Mandy is happy to be here!

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a bit of a journey this past year. We moved. Twice. So there’s that. I helped the family get settled, and now I’m networking my way into a new community for work, finding old friends and making new ones, and starting the Chubby Mommy Running Club in real life. Because I finally got t-shirts!

So I had to accidentally on purpose step up the exercise and changed my diet to combat all this stress. It’s worked pretty well, but I had to do crazy things like tell the world I was going to run a half marathon (which I DID!) and now, I’m training for the Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon, which means I have to wear a wet suit and jump in a lake.

And now I’m doing yoga.

Out of all the things I get lazy about (and lazy is just another word for scared) yoga is the biggest one. Most people think yoga is easy and relaxing. I suppose it is. There’s all that deep breathing and gentle stretching, after all. But to me, yoga means calming down and getting in tune with my body and my mind and my spirit. And there’s no place to hide from myself when I start doing that stuff.

There’s not a lot of joke telling in yoga.

Running is good because you can crank up the music on your headphones or chat with a friend for miles and miles, or watch nature or traffic.

Swimming is easy because no matter how much you’re thinking about elongating your stroke length (nice phrase, Coach Robin!) you still have to focus on not drowning.

Biking, I learned yesterday, can be a bit technical (Gears? Where’s the back pedal?) but yoga’s just you and your body and the floor.

So after my first try at doing hot yoga with the hippies, I avoided yoga for a while. Hippies don’t scare me in real life. Some of my best friends are hippies. I just wasn’t ready to get that in-tune with myself in a sweaty group that did super loud breathing and some chanting when I wasn’t expecting it. It threw me off guard.

Plus I had to sit cross-legged for many, many minutes in a row and it hurts my ankle. So the whole time I was supposed to be thinking about my breath, I was thinking ow, ow, ow instead of om, om, om.

But then I met Mandy. She’s a goofball and an athlete, a dancer and a calm, happy shot of joy all wrapped into one. She opened Just Breathe Movement Studio about a year ago here in Eugene, where she and her team of teachers offer Yoga, nia, Tai Chi, Pilates, and Therapeutic Exercise. I walked in one day to post a flier for the running club. We had instant good karma.

When I decided to train for Iron Girl, I knew I needed to take the next step and wrap my head around my head. I knew I needed to try yoga again, so I called Mandy and asked her to sponsor me and the blog while I take this little journey.

Yes! She said. Yes, yes, yes.

I went to my first yoga class at Just Breathe this week. I actually had to stop myself from skipping it, which seems ridiculous. As I was driving over there I remembered I need to get some of those little travel bottles for my shampoo before my trip next week. And you know, it seemed like maybe that exact moment would be a good time. But then I reminded myself that was ridiculous. Plus they have shampoo at the hotel anyway.

The problem with telling people you’re going to show up is you really should show up. So I did. And as soon as I walked in, Mandy’s joy spilled all over the lobby and then up into the yoga room. It was a calm, easy joy though, just right for yoga. There were twelve ladies in the room, and none of them were loud or smelly.

What I like about Mandy’s teaching style is that she soothingly talks you through each step of the pose, and helps you focus on that one little thing that reminds you to use the muscles you’re supposed to use, so you won’t tweak your back from trying to cheat.

I mean, not that I cheat on purpose or anything. It’s just, you know, my core is lazy.

So at the end of the hour I felt all my muscles, but I was really relaxed and happy too. And I didn’t even cry, although a few times I did feel some emotions moving around, but that could have just been my chi. I was feeling proud, and I knew I would come back.

And then Mandy called me over as everyone was leaving and said she wanted to talk to me about something. So of course my immediate thought was dang it, I did all the poses wrong and she thinks I’m not well suited to this class and maybe she should find another chubby mommy to write about her studio. But none of that was true. Because that would be ridiculous.

“I just wanted to tell you,” she said with her smile that lights up the room, “you are really beautiful.”

“Wow! Thanks!” I said, and gave her a hug.

And then I cried a little. Because, you know, yoga makes me cry.