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  • Elyse

How I Found my "Why?"

Have you ever been asked about your "why?" Why you may have chosen a certain path in life or changed course? Your 'why' can change and evolve, but it's at the root of what you do and how you have landed where you are today. I have been thinking back a lot lately to my very first yoga class, and although I did not know it then, that's when I began to form my "why."

I was just 19 years-old, home on a college break and was working out at the gym. After my run on the treadmill and various machine exercises, I hopped into my very first vinyasa yoga class. I kind of hated it, kind of loved it.

Yoga was not a love at first practice for me. It would take years for me to truly love it, but that first class planted a seed. I remember feeling so uncomfortable, awkward and just out of place. Everyone seemed to know one another in the class, including the instructor, and had their own little chatty groups. It was a clique that I was not a part of, and the instructor never once said hi or introduced herself. She made plenty of eye contact, but that was it. Sure, I could have walked up to her myself, but I didn't (as an instructor now, I try my best to always say hi to students before they have to come up to me - it's not always perfect, but I think students appreciate the effort). However, despite not feeling welcomed, I remember liking the class and felt that it was a different full body workout.

Since my first experience with yoga was both positive and negative, I didn't really stick with the practice. I didn't even think of it as a practice at the time. I viewed it as that thing you do occasionally in hopes of getting a long and lean yoga body, nice stretch, and nothing more.

Over the next several years I tried various instructors and studios and had pretty similar experiences. Nothing was really sticking. Then, while I was in graduate school, I discovered a hot yoga studio. I won't say what kind of hot yoga it was, but I am sure you can put two and two together. While I was surprised that I enjoyed the heat, the instruction terrified me. I was even hit once - physically hit in the leg - by an instructor, because she didn't think my leg looked straight enough. I was then called out several times in class, but never by my name, simply by "hey you with the black pants and blue stripe." Let's just say I did not return.

Then the magical class happened. Or so I thought..

I discovered another yoga studio that practiced the original vinyasa/power style that I liked, but in a heated room. I remember thinking that it was the perfect combination and for the first time, was really excited to go to a yoga class. And it did not disappoint. The instructor, who also happened to be the owner, said hi to me (mind blown)! The class was challenging, dynamic and just had a good vibe. Even the other people in the class were sweet and said hello and shared their own yoga experiences. I had finally found a yoga home.

But then... (c'mon, you all knew a BUT was coming...)

But then the owner got creepy. There is no other way to put it. He was just creepy. And it wasn't just with me, he was creepy with most of the women. Thankfully he never acted upon anything (aside from a few stalker-ish texts), but to say it soured my yoga practice and experience would be an understatement. I started to feel dirty just by being at that studio. And in case you are wondering, I heard years later that this instructor had received a lot of poor reviews based on his creepiness and is no longer in charge of the studio.

After this experience, I did not step into another yoga room for almost two years. I continued to work full time in Higher Education and pretty much forgot about yoga until David and I moved to a new area. We were looking for a local gym to check out, and naturally, a hot power yoga studio popped up. Despite everything telling me no, I went to a class. The instructor welcomed me, she checked in, other students said hi, the instructor played with some new things in class and kept an open and honest dialogue about it. She was even a little quirky (in a great way) and "messed up" a couple of times with her right versus left side, but it was amazing, because it was genuine. The class was insanely hard, it was stupidly hot, but it was incredible. I knew I was home and it was at this studio that I realized yoga was more than just a tough workout or looking pretty in a pose. That's why I decided to do my yoga training at that studio and even taught there.

All of this was roughly seven years in the making. At first I did not know it, but there was always something about yoga that kept pulling me back, despite having some iffy experiences. When I decided to do my teacher training, I had this urge to show others that they can feel welcome and comfortable in a yoga class - even if it is a physically challenging class. I had also done my very first tricep pushup in a yoga class because the instructor said to me "hey, why don't you just try one without your knees on the ground and see what happens." Sure enough, I did one. This drive to welcome more people to the practice and help others realize what they are capable of doing, is what became my "why."

My "why" has since expanded and evolved, but the original intent - to make people feel welcome and capable - has always stayed the same. Now, when I say things like "yoga can be fun" or "yoga can be freeing" and "despite our differences, every single person in this class has one thing in common - yoga," I'm saying that this yoga is for you. That no matter who you are, you will be welcomed into my class with open arms. Of course, after I welcome you, I will challenge you. You may hate me for calling out multiple planks or yoga burpees, or you may love the class because your favorite song was on the playlist. But hey, that's all part of the practice. 😉

I appreciate you reading and learning a little bit more about the "why" behind the Yoga Burpees practice. Whether you are brand new to the practice or have been going at it for years, feel free to reach out to me with any questions that you may have - seriously, don't hesitate to contact me. You can also practice with me on Instagram, YouTube and of course, the Yoga Burpees on Demand Platform here. I'll "see" you on your mat!



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