My yoga practice started several years back when I came to the realization that I could no longer finish a run without stretching afterwards. But, somehow stretching alone was not helping enough to increase my flexibility (and strength) over time, but something about yoga was. At first, I wasn't practicing yoga regularly, only after long runs or speed workouts, where I'd try to catch a class at the gym here and there to help get a "deep" stretch for those tight muscles. I didn't really take it seriously at the time and I wasn't attending class regularly nor did I have my own home practice. A few years ago, however, I injured my hamstrings, first the right one which healed after six months, then the left, which took another six months to fully heal. As I was healing my hamstrings, I wasn't able to run regularly as I was used to doing. On many days, I'd find myself on the bike, cycling to keep up my cardio endurance. I had the bike on a trainer indoors as the climate I lived in at the time was not conducive to riding outside during many months of the year. I enjoyed cycling, but to me it wasn't the same as running. I craved those long runs that took me to a place of peace and solitude, wind gently hitting my face with each step.
Herein began my yoga practice. I got into a routine where I'd ride the bike first for ~45 minutes, then I'd move into my yoga practice for another 30 minutes or so. I would have devoted much more time to my yoga practice, but at the time, 30 minutes was all I could fit into my packed schedule with work, kids, and other life demands! In fact, I had to get my workout in before daylight ever set on the earth each day and before anyone else in the house was awake, or else it wouldn't happen! And so, that's what I did. I loved this time and looked forward to it each day, even in the wee hours of the morning. It was truly a labor of love! Truth be told, I felt so good after my workout that I wouldn't have it any other way. Post workout, my creativity was always in full swing, I had all the energy I needed to conquer my day, and most of all, a clear mind free of stress and chatter!
Why yoga? Well, my daily yoga practice consisted of asana (movement or active practice) and relaxation/mindfulness/meditation at the end of each session, five minutes of stillness, experiencing awareness. This practice armed me with both physical and mental agility skills that come in handy in any of life's circumstances we face each day. I started practicing yoga for it's physical benefits, and trust me, the physical attributes of yoga are still very important to me, but as I deepened my practice, I realized yoga was helping to still the chatter and settle my mind, all the while lighting my creative fire!