Is it a lifestyle? Is it a workout? Does it improve your strength? Is it just stretching? Do you really need a yoga mat? Is it only for girls? A lot of stereotypes, opinions, judgement and maybe even misconceptions related to one word: Yoga. But what is yoga? Where does it come from? And why are so many people talking about it nowadays? Questions I unfortunately won’t answer in this blog, since I rather share with you how this inflexible guy ended up on his head doing a headstand and how this guy fell in love with yoga. What you can expect from this blog is answers to questions like; why did I decided to start doing yoga? Why do I choose to wake up at 5am on a Saturday morning to go to a sunrise yoga class on the beach? How am I experiencing yoga and what is it giving me? Find it out below!
Before I start I would like to tell you how yoga and Daan Kahmann are not a good match. At all. I am the type of guy who gets out-stretched by his 78-year-old grandmother when bending over to try to touch your toes or the floor. I would be happy if I’d reach my knees. And that is not an exaggeration. I am incredibly inflexible and I would always have the feeling I would tear every muscle I have when doing stretching.
Growing up as a kid I used to play field hockey for about 8 years. Therefore, my muscles always have been very short. I was always the one who wasn’t able to do any flexible movement whatsoever.
'So how did this inflexible, stiff guy ended up on his head with a beautiful sunrise? Why can he do all these yoga poses (see pictures below) and why did he decided to write a whole blog about it?’ Some questions you might be asking yourself at this point. Let me tell you, some questions I am still asking myself up until this point. How did I end up doing a headstand and the other poses? Spoiler alert: practice. First, Let me take you back to the reason why and the moment I took my first class of yoga.
I have always had this fascination for yoga. Not exactly knowing why, but yoga was always something I wanted to try. Maybe it was because of the hype around it or the fact that I was meditating on a daily basis, and yoga felt like the next step. Probably it was because I knew I could laugh at myself for being the most inflexible guy of the whole class. I don’t know, it was just one of those things...!
Coming to Barcelona I wanted to get outside my comfort zone and try all the things that I always wanted to try. After discovering the website Meetup, which is an amazing website and I would recommend everyone to check out here, I was ready to try all the things I always wanted to do. I started of going to salsa classes, unfortunately not something I felt committed to since me dancing is probably worse than me doing yoga. And then I found this meetup called: ‘YogaEmotion sunrise class’. That name immediately caught my attention. On the beach, doing yoga when the sun is coming up on a Saturday morning, that sounded attractive to me!
This was the best way to try yoga, I thought to myself. Since I love the beach I figured I could go to the yoga class, take a swim afterwards and would feel reborn. So I signed up, super excited for this new experience! And there I went, Saturday 21st of October around 06:30, to go to the beach for my very first ever yoga class. Equipped with a huge towel and my swimming pants, I felt ready!
I wish I could take you back to this moment I walked to the beach for the first time. The scenery looked stunning. These pictures are giving you a tiny impression of how it looked, but seeing it in real life made waking up early totally worth it!
But man, was I destroyed after that practice. Not destroyed because of the intensity of the training nor because the teacher was though, but destroyed because it became painfully clear how inflexible I was. There was no denying anymore, I had to accept the fact that I wasn’t flexible at all and that there was a lot of work to be done.
However, instead of taking the easy path and quitting the yoga since ‘it was just not for me’, I decided to see it through, as a new challenge. A new adventure, something I could improve on. I decided that I was going to make this my Saturday morning routine, since I loved the fact that I woke up early, went into nature, did a yoga practice with an amazing group of open-minded, fun people and that I had the whole Saturday ahead of me. Ooh yes, and because I loved the morning swim afterwards!
Lots of people called me crazy for waking up that early on a Saturday morning and going to the beach to do yoga. They couldn’t get their heads around it. Should I’ve tried to convince them that they were wrong? Tell them that they didn’t know what they were missing? Tell them that it was worth getting up that early and tell them all the benefits yoga could give you? No, because I don’t believe convincing anyone works. Maybe they are right, and maybe you need to be crazy to try something like that? Who knows? Maybe I like being crazy and trying new stuff?! It doesn’t matter, all that matters was my personal experience. And that first experience was amazing!
That was the moment I got hooked. I was looking forward to the next practice for the whole week. When I was finally allowed to join the Whatsapp group called ‘Yogis’ I felt part of the yoga movement. I was a true yogi now. I was ready to work on my inflexibility. I wasn’t backing away from this challenge because it felt like I was tearing all the muscles in my body when doing yoga. I was determined to continue and experience the progress.
So to come back to the question why I started yoga? My answer is because I was curious. Curious to experience what the hype was all about. To experience why everybody was talking about this magical word called ‘Yoga’. To see if the stereotypes were right. But most importantly: because I want to improve my flexibility.
And that last sentence is also the answer to the question why I want to get up every Saturday at 5am to be in time for the Saturday’s sunrise yoga practice: because flexibility equals freedom for me. Being able to move and bend your body in every desired, possible way is something I call freedom. I want to be more flexible and be able to touch my toes. I want to be able to find the balanced spot and stay in a headstand forever. And I want to get rid of the feeling that I am ripping every muscle I got. I want to be more flexible.
There you have it, my reasons why I love yoga, even if it’s at 7 am on a Saturday morning. Do I believe everyone should try yoga? Only if you want to and because you are curious. I strongly believe in all the psychical benefits yoga can give you, such as: increase flexibility, increase muscle strength tone, improve respiration, energy and vitality, weight reduction and protection from injury. Moreover, I believe in the mental benefits of yoga, e.g. create clarity and calmness, reduce stress, increase body awareness and developing coping skills (according to the American Osteophatic Association). But where I don’t believe in is that you have to try yoga because the world does it and because it will give you instant results. Because it won't. It takes time. Lots of time. I am still the same inflexible guy I always was, but I do notice progress. Practice is the key.
Yoga for me is an amazing way to spend time in nature, focus on my body and mind at the same time, increase flexibility, start the weekend fresh and be surrounded by amazing, fun people. It is something I started doing every morning now, because I love doing it and I want to practice more. Not because the Internet, Instagram or whomever told me to do it every morning.
Before I end this week’s blog, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the YogaEmotion group of people! First of all, a big shoutout to the teacher, Zlata. She is an incredible teacher who does not judge you on your level of flexibility. She coaches you to improve your inflexibilities. She does not teach one way of yoga, she allows you to create your own. If you can’t touch your toes when bending forward? Touch your shins! If you can’t reach your shins? Try your knees! ‘Whatever works best for you’ is a sentence she always uses. This acceptance was something I needed when starting yoga, since I knew I was the ‘reach-for-your-knees-guys’. Moreover, it’s an approach I believe in. Don’t try to do things a certain way because people tell you to, find a way that works for you! Check out all here content here, since it’s truly inspirational!
Secondly, I would to thank the group of amazing people who would join every week’s class. We would go for breakfast after the class, just having fun and laughing around. It is amazing to meet all of you guys and I am happy to be part to this incredible meetup.
And lastly I would like to give a major thank you to the photographer, Boris Hadjur, for all the amazing pictures!! Follow him here, since he is just a hobbyist who loves making pictures of Barcelona and does an incredible job!
So now it’s up to you! Do you want to try yoga? If you do, but you don’t have a beach near you, or a amazing meetup? Try the exercise below! You don't need to do them all at once, start small and just pick one. I do it every morning and the progress is insane! Hit me up here to get some more tips and tricks, or to talk about your yoga experience!