by Annie Vitale
I wouldn’t call myself a “yogi”.
I’m not sure I’m at that point yet.
I still struggle to touch my toes some days. I haven’t even set foot in a yoga studio. The thought of sweating profusely in a 90° room in front of other people does not appeal to me.
And it embarrasses me to say that I have to psyche myself up to shop at Lululemon. The place just intimidates me…don’t ask me why. The cost alone of a typical yoga practice can soar to an ungodly amount. $90 a month for a studio membership? $82 for a single pair of yoga pants?
No, thank you.
However, in spite all of this, I have managed to inexpensively fall in love with this practice they call Yoga.
Years ago, dancing was my life. From ages 3 to 18, I was in the dance studio 3-4 times a week. I was flexible, well-balanced, and coordinated. But apparently, if you don’t continue to work on those skills on a regular basis, you lose them…fast. So there I sat, about to turn 34, and I couldn’t touch my toes without grunting unattractively. Pathetic.
I don’t know what ignited my yoga fire.
It may have been the sight of a yoga studio opening around the corner from my house. Or maybe it was the fact that I was on Spring Break with nothing to do but clean and I was trying to delay that inevitable task. However, I’m fairly confident that my yoga practice began with the purchase of our new smart TV.
After a couple of days of watching mindless, bad movies and cheesy, old sitcoms on Netflix, I realized that I could easily watch YouTube videos on this 65” monster in front of me. That is when Adriene Mishler and Lesley Fightmaster became daily figures in my life.
Part of a large online community, these two women work hard to promote free yoga access to as many people as possible.
Unbeknownst to me, hundreds of channels on YouTube exist that allow you to practice yoga from the comfort of your own home in front of your TV.
I stumbled upon “Yoga with Adriene” first. Her life motto encourages people to “Find What Feels Good.” Sounds easy enough. This aspiring actress films free yoga videos in the dining room of her Austin, Texas home.
I began with her 30-Day Challenge and was not disappointed. Adriene has a cool, relaxing attitude with her viewers, laughing at herself, making beginners feel comfortable with whatever they are able to do. Her videos range from 16 minutes to a little over an hour, and some days are less challenging than others.
So I settled on a small challenge for myself – Yoga with Adriene every day for 30 days and see how it goes. And over the course of that month, a couple things happened. One, I started noticing changes in my body. I could touch my toes without drastically bending my knees. My chaturanga push-up began to get easier and I had more strength in my arms.
I craved this short time in front of the TV with this Austinite. I came home from work looking forward to meeting her at my mat each day. But another thing happened that I didn’t quite expect, something that kind of makes me cringe to say because it’s soaked in cliché. I began to feel more in tune with not only my body, but my mind and spirit as well.
“Yoga is really the art of waking up. Getting back to the true you. It can be that simple. Yoga offers up a way for us to see a world that is working for you instead of against you.”
I began to see the positive benefits of a yoga practice on my soul….and I wanted more.
What I loved about Yoga with Adriene was her 30-Day Challenge and how it became somewhat of a community centered around her.
Searching for another challenge, I found Lesley Fightmaster and her YogaFix 90 – “90 days to create a healthy habit”. Her last name sounds quite intimidating so I prepared myself for a hardcore instructor with a mean mug and tight abs. Instead, I found Lesley to have one of the most calming, inviting voices I have ever heard. She begins each video by asking her viewers to set their intentions for that practice, forcing me to face some of the stresses and inner challenges that need to be dealt with on a daily basis.
At the end of the practice, during the final shavasana pose, Lesley reads a quote from a book she is currently reading that emphasises her beliefs on positivity, respecting yourself, and being grateful for what you have…all lessons I could stand to hear over and over again.
Don’t get me wrong, Lesley Fightmaster’s videos are not just peaceful, relaxing flows. They challenge my body and leave me breathing heavily, sweating on my mat. I feel accomplished, pushed to my limit on most days. And I am able to do things that I wasn’t able to do 2 months ago. Touch my toes? Hell, I can put my palms flat on the floor.
My husband tells me to quit showing off when I hold planks while on the floor playing with my dog. He acts annoyed, but I’m pretty sure he’s enjoying the benefits as well.
Just the other night, I was lying in bed next to him, trying to help him de-stress after a very tense and trying work week. “What can I do to help?” I asked like the dutiful wife. “Just keep doing yoga,” he replied, with a sly grin on his face. Typical.
The thing is, I am not alone in my free yoga discovery. The Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel has over 700,000 subscribers and Lesley Fightmaster has more than 100,000.
People from all over the world are taking advantage of the easy access online. The online comments alone justify how many people enjoy this pathway into their yoga practice. And these are just two of the hundreds of fitness enthusiasts promoting yoga from the comfort of your own home.
You don’t have to have the perfect body.
You don’t have to be able to touch your toes.
You don’t have to spend a fortune going to the trendy studio in town.
You don’t even have to wear tight yoga pants.
All you have to do is get online and make a promise to yourself.
The benefits might be slow. You may not even notice them when they happen…but when they do, they will be plentiful and definitely worth it. Adriene and Lesley are the ones who introduced me to this positive, peaceful practice. Who will it be for you?
She began her yoga practice with the help of YouTube channels and continues to strengthen her body and mind from the comfort of her own home.
She believes that everyone can do yoga, no matter what your body type is or how flexible you are. All you have to do is try.