I recently sat down with one of my good friends, Tiff DeLancy to talk about our Love of Yoga. I've been wanting to write this post for quite a while now, ever since yoga became an integral part of my life. I feel very blessed to know Tiff, not only as a friend and person, but also because of her knowledge of yoga. She is a certified instructor who has been practicing seriously for the last eight years. She is the wife of Topher, who's amazing photography skills you've been witness to here on Things We Fancy, and new mother to little Nora Jane.
What got you into yoga?
I started going to yoga shortly after I graduated from high school. I used to do dance and was really missing it, but needed something a little more gentle on my body for exercise. I hate conventional exercise, like running, lifting weights, etc., so I figured yoga would be a good alternative. I originally went to a class at the gym with my roommate, then started branching out and going to different yoga studios. Originally, I decided to go purely for physical exercise, but once I started doing it more I realized there was so much more to it. Eventually the meditative and spiritual side of it became more important to me than the physical practice.
I decided to go to yoga, for several of the same reasons Tiff did, though not until a few months ago actually. I have a hard time with conventional exercise as well, and I knew I needed a lifestyle change. I have never really struggled with weight, which can be credited purely to good genes. However, I was unhealthy, not only with taking care of my physical body when it comes to exercise and eating well, but spiritually as well. Several events of the last couple years of my life left me feeling constantly stressed and off balance. There was a deal going on at a yoga studio near my house and I figured it would be fun to take advantage of it. After just one class I knew that this was the place that I needed to be. I began to notice it became easier for me to let go of anxiety and calm down, yet my body started to feel stronger and leaner. I was instantly addicted.
What would you suggest to someone who wants to start practicing yoga, but is maybe scared or doesn't know where to begin?
The first thing you need to know about yoga is it isn't about "getting there". It's about being there, being present. When you step on your mat you're there for YOU. What you'll find is no one else in class really cares about what you're doing because they're so focused on what they're doing. It doesn't matter if you can do a headstand or can barely touch your toes, it's about you and your practice.
The best place to start is by just going and trying it out. The only thing holding you back is you.
For me the best thing was going to a beginners class at a nearby studio. I have found that the instructors at studios tend to have a lot more experience and knowledge than in other places. It's also helpful to attend a class first, so you can learn proper alignment and not injure yourself. Instructors will also give you options so that you don't push yourself too hard, and they can come around and check your body to make sure you're practicing safe yoga. I've heard several yogis say, getting to class is the hardest part... the actual practice is easy. Like Tiff said, the only thing holding you back is you.
Benefits of Yoga:
keeps muscles limber
improves balance and strength throughout the entire body - core, legs, arms, upper body, hips
has been known to lower blood pressure
good body detox
aids in chronic pain relief
helps you sleep better
your own physical therapy
In what ways has yoga began to affect the way you live your personal life?
After practicing, you have this overall sense of peace and you know that all is well. Yoga will affect you mentally more than you think it will, and it creates a change that you don't even know is happening. Since practicing yoga, I have come to understand and believe that everything that happens in my life is a spiritual message. Each event that takes place is part of the journey.
It has also influenced me to embrace more natural ways of life. It really influenced my decision to have a natural childbirth at home. I couldn't have survived it without the things I learned from yoga. I was able to trust my body more, to know it's process and not have any fear. Because of developing a mind, body, and spirit connection I could place myself in a meditative state and endure the pain. Positive affirmations helped as well as breathing.
For me, it has guided me to live with an overall sense of wellness. The physical practice has really strengthened my body, and I've lost weight I didn't know I needed to lose. I have more energy and sleep better than ever. I have noticed that I'm also able to handle stressful situations better through breathing techniques. I'm not as quick to anger, and I look at things much more positively. One of my favorite things about yoga is it teaches us to treat our bodies as temples. I've learned to treat my body better than I ever have before. I'm now much more aware of the things that I'm eating because I want to be healthy, and I can definitely tell the difference! (To learn more about how I'm changing my eating habits you can visit this blog.) I now walk through my days with an added sense of awareness, but also peace and stillness. Meditation has also become a daily habit.