One of my good friends (Andrea Woodhall, a certified Yoga Instructor and the proprietor of Woodhall Wellness) has always been an inspiration to me for her fitness, agility, and physical prowess. From her younger childhood days as a gymnast to becoming a fitness instructor and yogi as she moved into adulthood, exercise has been a big part of Andrea’s life (and career).
While I grew up doing sports and dance, I was never interested in yoga. I had tried a few classes (and failed miserably). At the time, I didn’t understand the mind-body connection, kept forgetting to breathe deeply, and really couldn’t bend and move my body like the graceful yogis in class. But in recent years, that’s all changed.
Here’s a little background into my personal journey toward finding self-discovery and personal power through yoga.
Since Spring 2017, I’ve been regularly taking Reformer Pilates classes. A friend introduced me to this total body workout program, and I’ve been a devotee ever since my first class. Not only are the exercises challenging and fun, they help to re-shape, build, and strengthen the body in a way I’ve never known. Because of my newfound physical strength and agility, I found the courage to try yoga once more.
At the prompting of another friend, she encouraged us to take a “Yoga in the Vines” session with instructor Kate Balog. After asking me for months to take the class, one day I surprised her by finally saying “let’s go!”. Being outdoors in this beautiful mountain vineyard while doing Downward Dog and Warrior Pose was the inspiration I needed to finally understand the serenity and mindfulness that can come with yoga practice.
As a result of taking that one class, I not only felt compelled to share this elevating experience with all the Inspirations & Celebrations‘ readers (by creating the “Yoga in the Vines Tutorial Series” in collaboration with Kate), I also felt motivated to continue doing yoga.
With my renewed interest and enthusiasm in yoga, I gained strength, flexibility, and personal power through my practice. I’ve been continuing to take yoga classes, and most recently took Andrea’s Rejuvenating Yoga class at Wave Street Studios.
I had been hesitant about taking this particular class for a while (because it’s filmed and broadcasted live for the studio’s YouTube channel). Knowing that I’d be on-air while doing poses made me nervous because I hadn’t felt confident in my yoga abilities yet. But that all changed recently when I decided to face (all of) my fears and do everything that has ever scared me or forced me out of my “comfort zone”.
Her gentle, reassuring voice guided us as we moved through each pose. As I watched and listened to her, I had a profound personal realization that connected me back to my soul.
Here I was being led by one of my oldest and dearest friends (we’ve been friends since age 5!), being asked to do yoga exercises that come so naturally to her, all the while connecting with the inner voice of my spirit.
As Andrea reminded us, the practice of yoga is a personal journey for each of us. Our bodies all move in different ways, so it’s important that we stay mindful as we do each pose. While one person might be working on their core strength, the next might be focused on developing balance. That’s why it’s imperative for us to focus inward, rather than comparing ourselves with the next person.
As I did the yoga session, it reconnected me with my friend in a new and different way. I felt a kinship with her like never before. I felt the strength of our bond grow through our mutual interest in personal growth, internal strength, and self-awareness.
Whether you’re just starting with yoga or have been doing it for years, yoga is a journey toward self-discovery and personal strength. As you breathe deeply, focus on mindfulness and move into each pose with grace and poise, you can find a connection with your mind and body that goes deeper. Through this journey, you can develop an internal awareness and strength that you have never known before. I now understand what the yogis mean by this.
To learn more about Andrea Woodhall’s holistic yoga and fitness training sessions and online coaching, visit WoodhallWellness.com and watch her live yoga class on Wave Street Studios’ channel every Monday at 6 pm PST.
If you’re interested in practicing yoga moves at home, check out the “Yoga in the Vines Tutorial Series” on Inspirations & Celebrations. Namaste, my friends!