ericsmithWhy do I love Yoga?

To answer this I must first tell you a little bit about the Big E. As a former 2 x All American at Ohio State University and all throughout my fighting career, I’ve always had workouts that have been about contracting my muscles and making them more explosive. Which is pretty much all I knew. Then in 1998 I tore my rotator cuff, only to come back 2 years later and tear my other rotator cuff at the Olympic trials. So after years of training and doing everything from Tae-Bow to Cross- fit to P 90X, I never really found anything that challenged me mentally or physically like wrestling and fighting did. Then a great friend of mine Jamie Keene introduced me to Yoga at Bella Prana.

I walked in assuming I was going to straight kill it. Boy was I wrong. Fifteen seconds into my first downward dog my triceps felt like they were going to pop out of my skin. All I kept thinking was, “This is a resting pose? I’m going to be in serious trouble when we actually do non-resting poses.” Long story short, my first power yoga class had me feeling like I just ran half a marathon while fighting Mike Tyson in a swimming pool. In other words, I was exhausted and hooked at the same time.

The mixed feeling of pushing yourself to your limits physically while trying to remain calm mentally was utterly intriguing to me. I’ve done some pretty insane workouts from pushing Jeeps uphill to running stadium stairs while piggy backing my 200 lb teammate on my back. Out of all my workouts I’ve never been both mentally and physically challenged so equally. To me Yoga tests who you really are as a person. You get out of it what you put into it. Only you know if you gave 100 % in class. In other workouts I can use my speed, agility or athletic ability to get out of trouble. Not so much in YOGA. The more you fight a pose, the harder it gets.

It’s a 90 minute mental battle with your own mind and who is going to win? I know you aren’t suppose to keep score during YOGA but I do and let’s just say I’m not winning just yet. Being so new, every single pose is hard to me. Downward Dog makes me want to cry like a 16-year-old girl with no prom date. Tree pose has me more unstable then a than a wobbly table at your favorite restaurant. Warrior 2…oh Lord Warrior 2, this pose literally makes me feel like there is a little man jumping up and down on my arms while hitting my shoulders with a mini sledge hammer (kinda like Donky Kong). Long story short the poses are hard, but every once in awhile I make this breakthrough.

I start to breath in the pose and instead of fighting it, I give into it. And then it happens and I finally get it. I can’t explain it in words, but I know it feels like 1 small slice of euphoria. To me that is Yoga. When you can push yourself to a physical limit and just when you think you are going to give in you start to calm down and breathe, and all the tension and pain goes away. That feeling is the reason I love YOGA. Now if only I can get it to happen more often!

Why do I practice at Bella Prana?

Cuz of the teachers duhhhh! Honestly from the first time I came into Bella Prana, I felt comfortable. Now Bella Prana was the second studio I had ever been too at the time but the people, teachers and the studio felt warm and inviting. Each teacher brings something completely different to the table. Stephen K was a comedian that made me laugh. Greg H is the terminator/adjustor who lets you know how a pose is suppose to feel. Stephen B is the laid back surfer/x games instructor who has you upside down trying cool crazy moves. Then there is Roni, the inspirational teacher who takes you on a spiritual journey to places only your mind can take you (90 minutes with her and you are a better person or you are crying realizing you are not the person you thought you were). Either way, she challenges you mentally, physically and spiritually. I call her the Bermuda triangle due to the fact that for 90 minutes you get so lost in your own mind and thoughts that no one can find you. And only then do you mysteriously come back to normal life again lying on your back at the end of class (cue “X File” theme music)…