The Unlikely Story of How I Started Yoga

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My sister got into yoga. Not surprising, since she was a gymnast and had the flexibility of a contortionist, whereas I could barely touch my toes. My aunt taught yoga. She was the black sheep of the family, living a vegetarian, “granola” lifestyle in the mountains of Whales. I secretly admired her but was way too materialistic and conformist to want to follow in her footsteps. Plus, I thought doing yoga meant I would have to give up eating meat.My university roommate went to yoga every Friday at the YMCA and I never understood why. To me it just seemed like a waste of time when she could be getting a real workout in our favourite aerobox class or on the treadmill, at least. After my parents divorced, my father gradually became a dust-to-dust atheist and I decided I didn’t believe in God either. I was very judgmental and weary of Yoga’s spirituality. Needless to say, if you had told me that less than a decade later I would be opening a yoga studio, I would’ve called you crazy.

At 21 years old, when I finally did try my first yoga class it was for purely superficial reasons: namely, Madonna’s arms, Christy Turlington’s abs and Gwyneth Paltrow’s butt. Even then it took my most influential trendsetting friend to convince me to go with her.

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My original motivation for doing yoga: Gwyneth Paltrow’s butt.

That’s when something unlikely happened: I started practicing yoga almost every day. I got the physical benefits I was after but the real transformation was something I never could have imagined or even thought possible:

I stopped being afraid.

I stopped being afraid of what other people thought of me and whether or not I was good enough for them. Rather than change me into something I wasn’t – as I had originally feared it would – yoga helped me be true to who I really was.

The background hum of anxiety, as familiar to me as my own breath, had disappeared.The fear didn’t go away forever but the state lasted just long enough to create a significant shift in my life. On the outside nothing had changed. I was still bartending at night struggling to make ends meet, but on the inside, I felt free. I went from placing my entire self-worth in other people’s hands to connecting with an inner-confidence that felt like coming home. The feeling was so powerful, that my outer-world eventually started to reflect my new fearless frame of mind.

I moved cities, changed jobs and enrolled in a yoga teacher training. Most astonishingly, I attracted the right people at the right time to realize my new dream of owning a yoga studio. Who knows where I’d be if I hadn’t given yoga a chance. It took a lot for me to try my first class, so I empathize with all the people sitting on the fence, which is why I came up with the idea for Yoga Myth Busters.

Yoga Myth Busters is a series of short videos that help debunk the false objections people have toward trying yoga. Have you ever heard or said, “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible”, or “I can’t do yoga because I can’t relax my mind”? Some Montreal celebrities have. Check out their videos here.

My goal is to help remove the intimidating barriers that keep people from connecting with their true, authentic power. Nothing lights me up inside like seeing people realize their potential!

I hope this blog will inspire you. Not only to try yoga, but to overcome the doubts and fears that keep you scared and small; to align with your inner-guidance system and have the courage to follow it; to expand into the amazing life you were meant for. If you have a yoga myth you would like busted or someone you would like to challenge, reply here or follow me on instagram @melhappytree using the hashtag #yogamythbusters.

Photo credits:
Nina Konjini
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