Most people who have been practicing yoga for a while have a yoga transformation story. This one is mine. Below, you’ll read about who I was before the yoga practice found me, who I am now, and how practicing yoga every day changed me.
WHO I WAS BEFORE YOGA
It’s hard to say how much of “who I was before yoga” had to do with age, and how much of it had to do with the yoga. Maybe it’s just that I’ve grown up and matured, but I don’t truly think that’s it. I firmly believe that the yoga played a big role.
Before I started practicing yoga, I did not have a movement practice to speak of, other than dancing my (very drunken) ass off at concerts. I didn’t go to the gym or workout at home, I didn’t take fitness classes; I never work toward progressing in anything other than school or work.
For a while after college I worked a corporate job, so I lived a mostly sedentary life. One in which I restricted my eating so I wouldn’t gain weight. I never really starved myself, but I had an incredibly unhealthy relationship with food.
After being laid off from that corporate job during the recession, I decided to go to grad school, and started nannying. Nannying brought movement into my life because I was constantly on the go with the kids, but I still didn’t have a practice or discipline in my life. I never partook in any conscious movement.
I treated my body with very little regard. I rarely moved it and I didn’t nourish it well. I didn’t love it; I didn’t even like it.
Mentally + Emotionally
My mental and emotional state was in similar shape to my physical state. I had no practice to lean on, and mostly just let myself be ruled by the constant mind chatter.
I let my thoughts control me – clinging to every high and plummeting with every low. I self-medicated with booze and weed, keeping myself in a somewhat dulled state.
I have never really been one to talk to others about my feelings or emotions, but I also didn’t write them down, reflect on them, or even allow myself to sit with them. I did a lot of stuffing down and bottling up.
I was your stereotypical angry New Yorker. Always right on the edge of anger. Always looking for a reason to lose my shit. I was defensive, judgemental, and mean.
WHO I BECAME AFTER YOGA
I sometimes think of myself as “BY Natalie” (before yoga) and “AY Natalie” (after yoga), kinda’ how we talk about years as BC or AD. When mean or unnecessarily angry thoughts pop into my head, I’ll think “Woah, I’m having a BY Natalie moment!”
In many ways it feels like I was a completely different person.
My yoga practice started as a purely physical experience. That’s what I was seeking, and that’s all I knew for a long time. It was the physical practice of asana that opened me up to the greater world of movement and fitness.
I really liked how my body felt when I moved it with intention, and I started to seek out other fitness modalities. Over the years, I’ve fallen in love with HIIT, group fitness classes, spinning, and weight lifting. Today, I’m the kind of person who gets up at 5am in order to fit in my physical movement time. I can’t imagine not exercising regularly.
Adding exercise to my life also led me to rethink how I was nourishing it. In order to be able to work out every day, and to feel good doing so, I had to eat well. My relationship with food has evolved into a healthy one. I would never think to deprive myself of food anymore, and the food choices I make come from a place of love for myself.
Which brings me to my relationship with my body…a relationship that has also evolved. It’s not perfect by any means. I still have moments of self-judgement, but I have way more moments of self-love. I’ve seen what my body is capable of and I am so grateful for this strong, able, beautiful vessel that I’ve been given.
Mentally + Emotionally
To say that I’m a calmer, kinder, more present person than who I was before yoga would be an understatement. My mind is more clear; my emotions less turbulent.
What started as a purely physical practice has, over the years, evolved into a mental and spiritual practice as well. I have explored the practices of pranayama and meditation, and I use those tools both on the mat and off.
I’ve learned to harness the power of my breath to get me (more) calmly through tough moments, and I’ve started to notice when I’m slipping in to judgement or mean-spiritedness. I live a far more mindful life.
Does this mean that I’m not judgemental anymore and I never get pissed of? Absolutely not. But that’s not really what it’s about. It’s about noticing when these types of thoughts and emotions are creeping up, and acknowledging them. Sitting with them and reflecting on why they are arising.
I credit my yoga practice (which includes asana, pranayama, and meditation) with this increased mindfulness and awareness.
Why Practicing Yoga Every Day Mattered + Continues to Matter
I’ve talked about why consistency matters here on the blog before, and the reason I’m so adamant about it is because I’ve seen it work.
To be completely honest, I stumbled into a consistent practice. I was in a dark place when yoga found me and the relief I felt from practicing was so profound that I just kept coming back each day. I needed it.
Now that I’m in a much better place, physically, mentally, and emotionally, I find that I don’t have the same pull to practice each day. I have to make the conscious choice to do so. Sometimes days will go by where I don’t get on my mat. When this happens, I start to feel the need for a practice.
My muscles feel tighter. My thoughts move more rapidly; more loudly. I start to feel a sense of ungroundedness. I might snap at my fiancee or get a little snarky. These are signs that I need to return to my mat to bring me back to me. And the more regularly I return, the more regularly I feel like my true self.
Practicing yoga every day allows me to see progress. Progress in my physical practice, for sure, but more importantly, progress in how I treat myself and how I interact with the world. Progress towards being my best self.
INSPIRING A YOGA TRANSFORMATION
The key to a yoga transformation, or any transformation really, is showing up regularly. The changes that I’ve described here would not have come about without me getting on my mat and practicing yoga every day.
So if you’re looking to inspire your own yoga transformation, I invite you to commit to a daily (or almost daily) practice. Download the consistency worksheet below to help you stay on track. I promise that your body, mind, and soul will thank you.
Free Consistency worksheets!
Download the free yoga practice calendar + sequence builder to help you maintain a consistent practice!
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