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Finding Yoga in the Heart of Winter




Before we dive into the article, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Charlotte, and I’ll be writing some blog posts for I’m beyond excited to share my words with you, starting with my yoga journey:

When I was in high school, I was constantly focused on body image. There were myriad ways to spend my time better than worrying about how I dressed, how I looked, and a number on the scale— but due to a mix of tabloid magazines and TV shows, that is what I thought about.

I was also obsessed with exercise, and because of this my mom got me a book on yoga poses. It was probably her not so subtle hint to slow down, to enjoy these years where the biggest thing I had to worry about was school. And it worked— kind of. I followed some of the poses in the book, and eventually did stop obsessing over looks and popularity. I enjoyed my high school years.

Seemingly, I forgot about the book and about yoga in general until a friend asked me if I wanted to go to a hip hop yoga class at a studio near my college. I said “sure”, and was absolutely blown away. Not only were the intense vinyasa poses set to hip hop beats, but it was blacklight yoga! That made the experience seem like a spiritual party— the white leggings I’d worn glowed and the room was vibrant with color. At the end of the class, sweaty and subdued after a perfect savanna, I had changed my mind about yoga. It was really cool.

That fondness, and the studio, stayed in my heart as I trained for obstacle course races and half marathons. Then, post-college, I was on a trail run after work one day when I fell hard on my ankle. Running the rest of the way down the mountain wasn’t the hardest part. The hardest part was learning I’d fractured my ankle, and that I’d have to take it easy for a while.

Exercise had been my one outlet for stress, and it had empowered me to see myself and my body outside of just physical looks. Over the years, I saw my body as something that could take me through mountains, races, and more. I wanted to run ultramarathons, and now that vision was slipping away from me.

But the universe provided as it always does. A friend from college who I hadn’t seen in years reached out to me— the studio that I loved was offering a month for only $45. We started going every day. We were absolutely hooked. We grew inseparable, and yoga was a huge part of our friendship. It made us as close as sisters, and to this day, even when we live in other states, we are just as close.

Yoga became my routine— no day was complete without it. Having instructors who knew me by name, who cared about my journey, brought me closer to my yoga practice every day. Soon I learned they were offering a teacher training, and I leapt at the opportunity. I’d known I wanted to change career paths for a while, and this came at the perfect time.

Yoga Teacher Training, or YTT, was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I was working overtime at my job as an art teacher, and weekends were spent doing the training. Beyond that, it was the winter in Boston— and with that came cold, snowy weather that sucked the energy out of the city. I wanted desperately to curl up in bed for a whole day with a book and a chai latte, but I couldn’t. Still, it was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

As the spring arrived, so did our graduation. Soon I taught classes and transitioned to teaching full time. This was in 2017 and I’ve been teaching yoga ever since.

My yoga journey has brought me so many positive people that I now call friends. It took me out of my college years, where even though I kept myself in shape I drank heavily and didn’t treat my body well. Yoga gave me a profession that I adore, and a confidence that comes with breaking the normal career route.

I’ve taught yoga in four states now, and I cannot wait to teach it in more. One day I’d like to run yoga retreats in Costa Rica or Panama, somewhere that feels like an escape. Some days I feel exhausted, but I’ve had so many clients come up to me and tell me that I helped them heal from injuries, or I taught them how to love their body just the way it is. That keeps me going no matter what.

I don’t look like a traditional yoga teacher, or even a traditional yogi. I’m in shape, but I’m also curvy. I have rose-colored hair and a few tattoos. I’ve seen very few people that look like me in yoga magazines and Lululemon ads. But that’s okay.

You don’t have to look one way or another to be a yogi. You don’t have to dress a certain way, or believe in a certain thing. We have people in yoga who practice the spirituality right down to their diet (vegan and Ayurvedic), and others who come in wearing vintage rock and roll t-shirts and hot pink bike shorts.

The only thing you need to be a yogi is to try yoga. Let yourself fall in love with it. Let passionate, educated teachers guide you through poses and meditations. You don’t need to change who you are, but you might just change your life.

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