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This quote completely epitomizes the way I feel about my yoga practice (I have no idea where this photo came from, so if you know who I can credit, please share!). No matter what is happening in my life, if I get on my mat, I can be totally at peace with myself, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Yoga is the only thing that has ever been able to calm me down, dissipate my (pretty volatile) temper and truly change the way that I see the world and myself.

Recently, I was going through my yoga posts from last winter, and I can’t believe how much has changed!

The last time I posted, I was just starting a home practice from scratch and with no guidance (other than what the magical google and yoga journal told me).

I followed the sequences from this post for about a month or two, and then I slowly started adding more poses to my home practice. I started focusing more on flow (I found that I actually did like it) and breathing, and I even started working on headstands and other types of advanced poses. My home practice evolved very quickly, and I could both see and feel the benefits of it. For example, when I first started yoga, Crow Pose was very hard for me. Now, it’s a staple in my practice and I can usually balance for significant periods of time. It’s the same with Headstands. My shoulders have always been tight and non-flexible, but I can slowly feel them opening up – and I can almost do a Forearm Stand. I have never had upper body strength, but now I can easily do Chaturanga, and can even hold a Handstand for a decent length of time (with a wall for support, of course).

I was practicing at home several times a week, but then just before Easter, I took a road-trip back to Illinois and stayed for almost two months. Because there isn’t a lot of free space in my parent’s house to set up a yoga mat and practice, I twisted my sister’s arm into coming to yoga classes with me at my old yoga studio – Universal Spirit Yoga. She got really into it, and now she continues to take classes there, and even practices on her own sometimes. My mom has even started to go to yoga classes again, too. I am so proud of them both!

While I was still home, my good friend and I decided to take a week of free classes at Core Power Yoga. All of their classes are hot and so I was WAY skeptical, but I did it and I liked it more than I thought I would. I particularly enjoyed the cold lavender lemon washcloths they put on your forehead during Savasana – pure bliss, and totally genius.

When I got home, I started looking for a yoga studio in the area again, because I truly missed taking classes, and was looking for a place where I could have a teacher guide me on proper form and alignment. I stumbled upon a yoga studio just 15 minutes away from my apartment called URU Yoga. They had a wide variety of classes, including hot yoga, and they were super affordable.

The first yoga class I went to at URU was a hot yoga class at noon. This was less than a week after coming back to Florida from Illinois, and the humidity was killing me. Needless to say, the class almost killed me too. Other than it being WICKED hot (and me almost passing out on multiple occasions), I loved the instructor and felt great after I left. So, I didn’t let the hot yoga deter me, but instead I started going to regular not-hot classes. I loved it all – the studio, the teachers, the vibe. I had never felt this way about a yoga studio – not even the studio where I began my yoga practice.

This yoga studio is real, and the owners and teachers truly live and believe in the yoga lifestyle. The vibe I get from the studio reassures me that yoga is about finding who you are and becoming the person you are meant to be. It’s about broadening your horizons and pushing yourself to learn and try new things in a safe, nurturing environment. It’s not about how bendy or flexible you are, and it’s not just about getting fit – although that happens to be a super fabulous side effect of yoga – it’s about coming to class and being present on your mat, even when your world might be spinning out of control around you.

As you can probably tell, I’m totally loving everything about this studio. I’ve only been attending classes at URU for two months, but I feel like I’ve been going for years. My practice has strengthened and transformed in so many ways in this short period of time – I have recently found myself instinctively placing my hands in prayer position when I need to re-center – even if I don’t consciously know that I am off balance. I’ve tried many new things and I feel better mentally, physically and spiritually. I regularly go to at least one hot yoga class each week, and it doesn’t kill me! I sometimes hit up the forearm balances and inversions class, and while that class seriously humbles me, I am always grateful for what my body can do while I’m there.

Unfortunately, since coming home, I’ve also started a new job and am much busier than I was before, so my home practice has become almost non-existent. This is something I am working to change – even if I only practice for five minutes before bed. I’m also trying to get Alex to do yoga with me at home more often, too. It’s good for his hip, and it’s a wonderful way for us to spend time together.

I mentioned in my first post about yoga that I wanted to become a yoga teacher in the next couple of years. Well, I am excited to share that I have signed up for URU Yoga’s Teacher Training, which starts in September. I am grateful that I found a studio that I believe in, humbled that I am able to participate in the training with such amazing people, and excited to begin this new journey and see where it leads me.

My mom comes out to visit this week, and I can’t wait to bring her to some of the beginner yoga classes at URU. After our trip to Orlando (DISNEY and Universal!!!) my sister will come back and stay with me for awhile, and I can’t wait to have her join me in my regular classes. I wonder how much her practice will grow in the month that she is here…

I know that all of this might sound a little crazy to some of you – but don’t knock it ’til you try it. I couldn’t even get through an OM chant without laughing when I first started yoga… and look at me now!