Seriously, though. What is the deal with yoga?

By TATUM

If you call the United States your home, chances are, at least one of your friends says that he or she practices yoga. According to a sort-of recent study, yoga has increased in popularity by nearly 30 percent since 2008. That’s 20.4 million Americans and counting.

But why? What’s so great about this stuff? No, seriously. What is in the Kool-aid?

As a newish yoga teacher, I can assure you that while yoga may not be for everyone, it can be – and that’s what makes it so appealing. You don’t have to be some sort of acrobatic skinny-mini to be able to roll out a slab of rubber, take a few deep breaths and stretch your bod. You can be any age, any size and at just about any level of fitness and a doctor will rarely tell you, “Stay away from yoga, it’s the worst.”

While an amazing spectrum of people practice yoga, it is often considered fitness for non-athletes. Look, I hated gym class as a kid. Aside from baseball, I don’t really even like watching competitive sports. And, to be honest, I only like baseball because the players’ asses look amazing in those pants (amirite?!).

So, when I first tried a yoga class, I thought, “This is what I’m talking about.” No one was yelling at me, I didn’t have to try to be better than anyone else. The teacher said I could stop what I was doing at any time and settle into child’s pose. It was perfect.

But not all new students had the same experience as me. I’ve heard countless stories about a yoga noob who tried a high-heat-mega-power-fierce-loud yoga class and left in the middle after nearly barfing all over the hardwood floors. My message to you is simple: go again, but go to a different studio.

Yoga has more styles than Christians have denominations, y’all. If you don’t want to sweat to the oldies in class, there is likely a studio close by that features lower temps, soothing music and gentler postures. If you were bored in the first class you took, there will always be more challenging classes to try, I assure you.

You are what you think.

Yoga philosophy maintains that we are our own teachers and much of what we say and do is a manifestation of our own thoughts. That is to say, if I think I’m ugly/fat/unattractive/boring/uncool, then I am. Along that same vein, if I believe that I’m worthy of love, kindness and a job that makes my heart sing – I will have it. So, as it relates to a yoga class: if you think you’re not good enough or it’s too hard or too hot or too whatever, it will be. The only reason you’re not going to yoga, getting your dream job, dating your dream partner is YOU.

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THIS is the Kool-aid. This enormous shift in thought is what keeps us coming back for more. Our world is so full of pain, anger, strive and push, that when we were given access to a practice that allows us to come as we are and practice in a way that suits our needs without judgment – we latched on.

For too long, we’ve been stuck thinking that there is some sort of rule book out there for life. As a Literally, Darling reader, you’re well aware that you do not fit the mold and that you don’t have to explain yourself. Yoga expands on that notion while giving you space to move your body and breathe.

Package this along with the countless other benefits of practicing yoga and you’ve got yourself a nation hooked on downward facing dog.

So, tell me, what’s really stopping you?

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Blessed with a weird name, a head full of awesome curls and a laugh that can be heard for several blocks (at least), Tatum rarely leaves a room without making some sort of impact. She started out as a child actor (yep), and spent her teens in the theatre. After one bummer review from a Minneapolis theatre critic, she decided to join the dark side and take up writing. For nearly a decade, she has worn several hats in the writersphere: blogger, reporter, editor, intern, contributor and copywriter. In 2011, she decided to turn her life upside down with yoga. Now all she wants to write about is yoga, health and wellness while making people laugh and encouraging them to be kind to themselves.
View Comments (6)
  • Great post, Tatum! Sometimes it’s hard to see past the faddish Lulu BS that has attached itself to yoga like an ugly barnacle and remember that it’s, like, seriously good for you. Mind, body and soul.

  • Who is this gorgeous and talented writer? I must find her and attach myself to her like the above-mentioned barnacle. Except I’d be an asthetically pleasing barnacle that’s less of a barnacle and more of a small, cuddly animal surrounded by rainbows and glitter. I’d love to read more articles written by this chiquita.

  • As a newish yoga instructor herself, I love your article! I always tell my students: yoga is exactly what you need it to be. I get a lot of middle-aged students who get despondent that they aren’t a “real yogi” — I tell them, “Do you enjoy yoga? You’re a yogi.” There is always a style that can fit your personality — from the fitness nut to someone who is looking for a complete spiritual awakening and everything in between. Bravo!

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