by Melodee Thaxton – Destin Hot Yoga Beginner Series Student

Day Zero:  Here’s what I know about yoga.  I had an old yoga video that I tried to follow a couple of times.  Instead of a strap, I had to use a belt because that’s all I had available.  Well, I hurt my shoulder both times I did this one stretch so I put yoga back on the shelf.  I went about my life for several years, with wanting to try yoga always being a goal.  After moving across town and very close to this cool looking place called Destin Hot Yoga I happened to mention my interest in checking it out to a friend of mine.  She had actually been there before and said she thought it was really awesome. So I stalked DHY on Facebook and lo and behold, like a week later I saw a post about an unheated Beginner’s Series starting.  The mental gymnastics ensued as I hawed about whether to join.  Here’s a little peek of what went on.
Self:  6 weeks is a long time, I don’t know if I’m ready for that kind of commitment to something I’ve never tried before.  I really have no idea what yoga is about.  I don’t know anybody.  What am I supposed to wear?  Do I need to buy a mat?  My shoulders hurt those couple of times I tried yoga.  I’m not super flexible. It went on like this until I finally just took it as a sign that my friend and I had just talked about it and here comes the perfect opportunity to not only learn what yoga is about, but to do it unheated.  I’d be silly not to take part.  So I signed up!!

Week One:  Ok, so maybe I didn’t get much sleep last night over anxiety keeping me awake about it but I showed up anyway.  Alright, so now I know this is how you set up your mat.  Not too sure what we’re supposed to be doing until class starts so I’ll just sit here quietly and take it all in.  Ahh, meet the teachers, with such welcoming, positive energy.  Talking? Ok, we’re definitely cool with listening. I learned that yoga means union, that the“moves”are called asanas,and that they are but one limb out of ”the 8 limbs of yoga” .I also learned how to breathe.

Week Two:  Oh boy, here we go.  Something that looks as simple as standing now has several steps to accomplish first.  Lots of rearranging and turning around to look in the mirror and lots of reminders of “Smile!  It’s not that serious!”  So this is what Downward Facing Dog is supposed to be.  What it’s supposed to be and what mine is, are worlds apart.  Enter the introduction of another major tenet of yoga, “be where you are”.  Do not compare yourself to anyone else, not even to yourself or what you were yesterday.  Simply be where you are, RIGHT NOW.  Yoga takes practice y’all.  Lots and lots of practice.
Week Three:  Yep, my body is actually sore, pretty much everywhere.  It would seem I have never in my life lifted my arms above my head the way they are reacting.  I can only laugh as my legs wobble and shake as I just stand there, in a very specific way.  Who knew this much went into each pose?  I certainly had no clue.
Week Four:  Wow, so my whole life, I had heard about “runner’s high” but let me tell you, I felt no such thing after running.  But yoga bliss is real.  We actually got our hearts really pumping stringing together like 4 poses in a row.  I felt like I was on top of the world.  Now I know why they say yoga is good for your health and can be a workout.  It’s been so nice to love my body and learn not just what it can do, but also what it can’t do.  The teachers were excellent here because they took the time to explain and show how to use blocks, straps and blankets to help meet yourself where you are and do the pose safely.
Week Five:  I am no longer losing sleep at night and in fact I am looking forward to the days I get to go to class.  I find myself doing yoga throughout the day, practicing my ujjayi  breath in the grocery store when someone leaves their cart smack dab in the middle of the aisle or balancing on one foot while brushing my teeth or to put on my pants.  There is an air of sadness as the course comes to a close because it’s been such a journey!
Week Six:  6 weeks is hardly any time at all to cram in all the information, but somehow the girls did it!  I now know enough basic postures, and flow to feel confident going into any class I like.  I feel connected to each person in the class, the teachers, and especially myself.  I am more aware, centered, healthy, strong, mindful, spiritual, flexible, and even in better shape.  I can honestly say this experience has changed my life.  Yoga is the gift that you need, I invite you to receive it. Namaste!