My first class at 502 Power Yoga was a Karma class. The room was packed beyond capacity, and the energy was high; you could feel the love when you walked in—which, when you’re new to this style of yoga, like I was, can feel overwhelming. My friend and I were the last two people to lay our mats down and I was ready to get my zen on and tune the world out — which is my default.
When class started and the instructor asked us all to generate hellos/give hugs/shake hands, I freaked out. She wanted me to what? No. I had come to do some yoga and stay in my own secluded world, not to meet new people or hug strangers. Not to mention, I was already sweating, as was most everyone I was asked to hug. Instinctively, I went directly to my friend and hugged her, but soon found I couldn’t avoid contact with other yogis any longer. I hesitantly shook hands and hugged two other already-sweaty people. I felt self-conscious for the entirety of my practice, worrying that the people I hugged were judging me for sweating before class had even started.
Coming into a class at a new yoga studio can be intimidating. However, when I started to meet new people at 502 Power Yoga, I realized that I was NOT alone. Instead, I was in this together with every other yogi in the room. I was connected to a room full of 30+ people—talk about powerful! Side note: The room is hot, full of badass yogis, and everyone is sweating. Nobody is judging!
In that same class, the instructor had us support our neighbors in Airplane Pose. I remember internally having a strong “Nope, nopeity, nope, nope” reaction to this; there was no way I was throwing off my balance to put my sweaty hands on someone else’s sweaty body. And then I felt another yogi’s hand on my shoulder supporting me, which gave me the nudge I needed, and I reached out to support my other neighbor.
Where can you go in your practice once you’ve moved past what is blocking you? For me, letting go of insecurities led me to become more consistent in my practice and made me fall in love with the Baptiste Methodology, which led me to taking the BIG leap to sign up for teacher training with 502 Power Yoga. Removing my rocks opened me up to following my passion and creating some pretty amazing friendships in a community that thrives off of supporting others.
It works that way; the support and community. You may come in feeling nervous, scared, or vulnerable, and then you realize we are here for each other. That support can move mountains (or fly airplanes in my case.) From that, strength in your practice happens. Growth in your life off your mat happens. Big things happen. The sweaty hugs are actually something I look forward to now.
Embrace the sweaty hugs and handshakes—it’s the beginning of something spectacular.
Who said that eating healthy can’t feel a little indulgent? One of my favorite desserts is this “banana ice cream.” It goes well accompanied with a Quinoa Salad and Peanut sauce dinner, or as an afternoon treat. Eat with a spoon like soft-serve, or add a little extra almond milk, stick a straw in it, and take it on the go!
2 ripe bananas, chopped and frozen
3/4 to 1 cup almond milk, or milk of choice
1-2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder (optional)
Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
Place the milk, bananas, peanut butter, and optional protein powder in a blender* or food processor. Blend until very smooth, like soft serve ice cream, adding more milk as necessary. Enjoy!
*High powered blenders work best, but I did make this in a cheap blender during my college years just fine; I had to add more milk to get it to blend, though.
Bonus Recipe: Pumpkin Bread Pudding
I love making this single-serve pumpkin bread pudding for breakfast, snacks, dessert…I typically leave out the maple syrup and it tastes just fine. Topping with natural peanut or almond butter is highly recommended!
I once heard someone say, “the only cure for Yoga-Sore is more Yoga.” While there is a lot of merit to this, there are also a lot of other kinds of sore. As someone who has experienced lower back spasms, soreness and pain from running, wrist pain, and general yoga soreness, the best advice I can give is “you do you.”
In other words, meet yourself where you are. The best way to avoid injury is by listening to your body. Pain is real. There are real times when you need to give your body rest. Our bodies do a lot for us every day and we need to respect that. There is also tightness, tired muscles, soreness, and general achiness. For those things, sometimes the best thing we can do is work it out.
Meeting yourself where you’re at does not mean doing the hardest variation of every pose because you know how. It means doing exactly what your body needs. That can look like dropping a knee in side-plank or staying in yogi squat instead of crow pose. It can also look like working your legs vigorously in Warrior II and then taking supported bridge for lower back pain.
Another part of meeting yourself where you are is realizing that there is no expectation, no bar to meet, no grading scale when you’re on your mat. It is a daily practice for me to step on my mat and tell myself “this is for me.” As a recovering perfectionist with a need for approval, this is a hard thing to swallow. My practice does not need to look like my neighbors’ or impress my teacher. It does not need to be ready for the cover of Yoga Journal or be Instagram likeable. It does need to feel good, it needs to stretch and work my body, it needs to strengthen and release, and it needs to be something I can be proud of right then and there. It needs to be for me.
So, should you practice yoga when you’re sore? Yes. Show up, do the work but take care of yourself. Allow yoga to restore your mind while you work out your kinks and soreness. Create a practice that serves you, and then take one heck of a Savasana.
**Disclaimer – I am not a medical professional. All statements are from personal experience.**
Let’s talk about sweat. I have heard women say on multiple occasions throughout my life, “I don’t sweat, I sparkle.” Previously as a runner and cross-fitter I rarely experienced sweat (or sparkle for that matter) in my workouts. Actually, I never did–ever. The first yoga class I had with 502 Power Yoga I was prepared for the 90 degree heat by being super hydrated, grabbing a towel once I entered the studio (although I did not think I needed it) and bringing in additional water. With that being said, I was NOT prepared for the sweat.
My laundry detergent was also not prepared for the sweat. Now I’m a lady so I won’t go into details, but my Pinterest research on “smelly gym clothes” provided me with loads of recommendations; I tried all of them. I tried adding baking soda. I tried white vinegar. I tried soaking. I tried not drying. All of my clothes still maintained a certain level of ‘ew’. It wasn’t until I finally got up the courage to ask a fellow yogi friend, Jess, about how she managed the sweat in her laundry that I discovered something as simple as Tide Sport was the answer.
With that problem solved, there are no longer concerns about odor or other potential issues with my yoga clothes impacting my yoga practice or my confidence. But more importantly I should not have been so embarrassed. Conversations about sweat are not the easiest to be had, but it isn’t going to break connections either.
Regardless of my previous sweat to sparkle ratio in physical activity, I can officially say I sweat at 502 PY and I do so knowing that no one judges me for it. Being part of a community that allows for questions, mistakes, falling out of tree pose for the 700th time that week, is ok. The reminders from teachers and assistants that falling out of a pose is perfect reminds all of us that just as we are is just how we should be in our lives. There is usually a sweaty Baptiste hug at the end of that 60 to 90 minute Vinyasa Flow waiting for me, and I love it. It has astounded me that adding yoga to my life has truly helped with self-confidence in such a big way and that’s regardless of sparkle, sweat or choice of laundry detergent.
Know always that the community at 502 Power Yoga is just that, a community. Come with questions. Come with hugs. Come as you are. Leave sweaty.
What first drew me to 502 Power Yoga was the promise of community by co-owner Sarah Smith. Being of service to my community, be it local or global, is my driving force. Even greater is my desire to work with and for children. Since November, I have co-led the studio’s outreach classes at New Directions Housing Corporation’s after school programs.
The mission of 502 Power Yoga’s outreach program is to make yoga accessible to anyone throughout our Louisville community. The sessions with the children at New Directions give them an introduction to the yoga practice, and encourage them to work together in a community and to use their bodies and minds in a creative way. Most importantly, we have fun!
Each week we are greeted by a handful of smiling children rushing to grab their favorite color mat. Once they’ve got their mats down, it’s time to get moving. To get them in a flow, we start with Sun Salutations, and pretty soon everyone begs for a turn to be the teacher. They also try to show up their teachers by dropping back into wheel and then walking around the room. I don’t have to pretend that I’m impressed! After our flow, we move on to a variety of other activities. We may do a team building exercise that uses cooperation and have students reflect on the process. Once we did partner poses, and now the kids want to climb all over us each week. The kids also enjoy story time yoga, where they create their own poses while we read a story. We spend the final minutes of our time together in a guided meditation. Meditation is about as quiet as you would expect it to be with elementary age students, but the reflections on gratitude or happiness they share afterward are always thoughtful.
When I first started with these kids, many thought yoga was simply closing their eyes in Lotus or Tree and humming, but over the past few months they’ve been introduced to a practice where they can move, create, and have fun. From my experience, I have learned that yoga is a vehicle for patience, communication, laughter, and community. Even if the students are still working to remember what namaste means, I feel powerfully the connection that our 502 Power Yoga community has with the greater Louisville community in this outreach program.