I Am A Yoga Girl - Jess Carpenter

After a failed relationship halfway through college, I bought a yoga mat with my mom and we enrolled in a twice weekly yoga class. Both of us were struggling with major upheavals in our lives. Through the first set of poses, the dim lighting, and the soothing voice of the instructor, I forgot about the cares of the world.

As someone with a type-A personality, it’s hard for me to relax. I feel useless when my list is not crossed off on a daily basis, and nothing irks me more than feeling like I’m wasting time. I had thought that yoga would be a waste of time, but as I folded into myself on child’s pose or felt my arms shake in chaturanga, it was clear that I was wrong.

I went from never doing yoga to falling in love with the smooth transitions and hard-to-achieve poses. But, the one thing that yoga has taught me five years later is one of yoga’s fundamental purposes—flexibility. There were days that I couldn’t touch my toes and there were days that I could easily get into scorpion. Though yoga taught me physical flexibility, it also taught me mental flexibility. I came to yoga with a broken, tired, and exhausted spirit, but I left with a fulfilled purpose and a new outlook on life.

As my life rapidly changed and I met my husband, then had two kids, yoga has continued to teach me flexibility in my life. Not only has it helped me heal physically from the great changes my body has gone through, but it also helped me to adapt to my everchanging life in a way that nothing else could.

Just like we go through positions on our mats, our lives change. It may be rapidly or slowly, but without flexibility, it hurts. Yoga teaches me to love myself as I am, even if that means I’m only on my mat once or twice a week. It’s a lifestyle, a way of accepting and opening up our hearts to others, and it’s with this that I’ve been able to adapt.

Yoga helps you to become flexible, but it doesn’t demand you start out that way. I came to yoga not knowing what I would find, but it opened up a whole new life for me. It made me strong and sure in myself, and it taught me that I can handle anything life throws at me. Flexibility is a hard thing to learn, but without yoga, I never would have succeeded in the changes I’ve gone through these last few years.

Yoga is flexible too, and there’s nothing demanding that you show up every day or push yourself to the limit. It’s an understanding practice, taking the broken-hearted yogis the same as the overeager students. It has taught me to better understand myself and others, and the inherent flexibility of the practice has been a comfort when things don’t go the way I planned. Through all of life, we are students. It doesn’t matter how long or how little you’ve been involved with the community, they take you as you come.

I’m a young mom, often overwhelmed by the shrieking of loud toddlers. I’m also a yogi, one who tries (and fails) to get on her mat whenever possible. But it’s because of yoga’s flexibility that I stick with it. Even though I may not practice as often as the typical yogi, I’m proud to say I am a Yoga Girl.