Probably like everyone else, my reasons to try yoga had nothing to do with the amazing benefits that yoga has to offer. There were simply some problems that I had and wanted to solve. Let's be honest., We all have our “reasons”: because our doctor said so, we`ve heard that yoga is amazing for our health, we hope that yoga will magically solve all our problems. I heard from my coworker that yoga could help me to heal my acne (I suffered from acne nearly my entire life) and help the horrible back pain that I had been nursing for quite a few good years. She told me that a friend of hers healed his acne in less than a month with hot yoga, and she hooked me! Moreover, she suggested that she could join me if I was hesitant to go by myself. I heard about yoga a few times before I headed to my first class of Bikram yoga, in Tel Aviv, Israel 2010. Honestly, I had no fucking idea what yoga was. I even didn`t bother to Google and research what it was all about. I believed it would help me solve my problems, because it helped others. So, I trusted the words of my friend, and a few days later, we headed to our first yoga class together. I thought I was in good physical shape, as I was “an athlete” in high school and went to the gym pretty often. I will never forget this day! We came in to the studio, while filling out the waiver, I couldn`t stop looking around the room. For a moment, I felt we were on the beach, a kind of indoor beach. It was winter and pretty cold outside, but everyone was wearing their swimsuits and speedos. I looked at my “casual gym outfit” and thought to myself , '' Did I come into the wrong party?” As my feet stepped into the yoga room, I thought, “HOLLY SHIT! Why is it so freaking hot in here?” I knew that I was going to a hot yoga, but I'd never experienced this kind of heat, in my entire life. Then, I understood the “beach workout outfits” I’d seen.
As the class began taking a nice pace, I couldn't help myself from looking around and asking; “How the fuck they do that!? I'm way younger than most people in the room, and I am in such good shape.” This, at least, was what I thought, but apparently I was so far away from that!
Ninety minutes later, as we were in complete silence lying like dead bodies on the floor, for the first time in my entire life, I felt good and at peace with myself. Ever since I could remember, I had never, never loved, valued, appreciated, took pride in, or been happy with myself. I had lots of traumas and rough stories from my childhood, that was the main reason for my low self- esteem and many other problems in my life.
Riding my bike on my way back home from the class, I just couldn`t stop smiling!
I felt so fucking good and happy for no reason. I had barely been able to do a single pose from all the 26 poses that we did in 90 minutes. I could barely breathe because I was an addicted smoker and drinker at that time; I felt dizzy and nauseous the entire class. I realized that I was in horrible shape, but still, with all that, I felt true bliss for the first time in my life. I wanted more! I was craving that feeling again. Moreover, the fact that yoga challenged me physically was another good reason to come back again. I didn`t experience love at first sight. I am not even sure if I even liked the practice itself, but the feeling afterwards, that was what I was craving.
I don't remember how many classes I took before I left the country for the U.S, but it was enough to create a tremendous impact on my life and to pursue a lifetime journey that keeps me creating a better version of myself every single day.
I am deeply grateful that the Universe connected me with that girl, Yafit (my coworker), that I knew, I think less than a month. She not only introduced me to yoga, but she also was the only one who supported, believed, and pushed me forward to pursue my dream to try my luck in the U.S. (If you`re reading this Yafit, you have no idea how much gratitude and love I have in my heart for you!) BTW, we`re still in touch. Now she also lives in the States, and I just can't wait to meet and squeeze her one day.
My journey in the U.S. wasn't so easy and welcoming in my first years. I couldn't afford to take yoga classes regularly, but any opportunity that I had extra cash and time, I ran to take a Bikram yoga class before work. At that time, I was working from 8am to 10pm, barely making enough ( commissions only job) to survive the month and pay my bills. I didn't have a PC or a smartphone at that time. So, I didn't have the privilege of having YouTube as it's available to the world today. Any poses that I remembered, I was doing during work time when I felt exhausted and needed a positive boost of energy.
After I met my husband and we began living together, he supported me beginning a consistent yoga practice. It was in 2012, when we lived in San Diego, CA. I was first introduced to power yoga, and I did my first down dog. “Down whaaat? I looked at the teacher as if she were drunk, Down dog? What? Did I hear right?” Woooaaa, my world was blown away! I thought I knew what yoga was, but I had no dang idea, again! So yoga is not only Bikram!? Apparently, there were so many other styles of yoga that I couldn't imagine. Power yoga was a real kick in the ass! I enjoyed the challenging poses so much!
As the years passed by, I found yoga in the gym, it was way cheaper than yoga studios, and I began developing the practice of going a few times a week.
In 2013 we moved to Hawaii, our finances became more stable, and I could allow myself to have a membership in a yoga studio that I loved very much. The more I practiced, the more I wanted it. As I began noticing changes beyond my physical body , I became addicted to yoga, and sometimes I was taking two classes per day on my days off. I just constantly needed that yoga high. At that point I heard and was interested in information on becoming a yoga teacher one day. It scared the shit out of me. Anytime I saw the pricing of a teacher training, I took a step back. ‘Till one day…. Finally, I decided I could commit., I wanted to know everything about yoga: how to deepen my yoga practice, the ability to practice by myself any time I wanted, and maybe even to teach it one day. When I began my yoga teacher training, my English was so horrible, I could barely follow and understand what we were talking about in classes. I came back home, sat and translated every single word, learning English and yoga at the same time. It wasn't an easy journey, but was an absolutely worthy one. During my teacher training, I found out more and more different styles of yoga. My absolute favorite one has always been power yoga. I find everything I need in this style of yoga, although I do also enjoy many others like; ashtanga, yin, rocket, vinyasa, and a few more.
I was so passionate that I decided that I wanted to begin teaching before I graduated. I knew no one would hire me without my certification and with my horrible English, so I started finding ways to find my own students to begin my teaching journey. As we lived in Hawaii, it was “pretty” easy., Craigslist, Meetup, beach yoga, etc.. Step by step, before I even realized, I had a small group who came to practice with me weekly.
When I graduated, I already had some teaching experience, so it was easier to find a teaching position in yoga studios and hotels. I jumped on every opportunity, even the free ones.
All I wanted was to teach and to become better and better as I went. Shortly, I noticed that my personal practice and passion for yoga inspired countless people around me– and around the world through social media to practice yoga and even to become yoga teachers themselves.
I loved it very much! I never thought that I would become an inspiration for someone. Me, the girl that never believed in herself and was afraid of her own shadow. I remember, deep down I always wanted to become a teacher when I grew up, but a teacher for first grades, where the kids are still cute and nice lol. As I recognized that in myself, I finally found what I truly wanted to be and do in my life as a professional path. Very quickly, I quit my job and became a full- time yoga teacher.
Yoga for me is food for my soul, mind, and body. I literally can't live a day without yoga. Even when I don`t have time to practice, I`ll do a pose or two, and my day already looks and feels better. Yes, I also have those days when I feel lazy, tired, unmotivated, depressed, you name it. These are actually the days when I need this practice the most! How do I convince and motivate myself to step on my mat? Without overthinking, I sink into the child's pose, take a few deep breaths, do a few cat/cow poses, and before I even know it, my body begins to move and explore. Sometimes it will go for 10 minutes, sometimes over an hour. The time doesn't really matter, what matters is the connection with yourself. When I feel like I can't move by myself, I put on an online class of one of my favorite teachers and just follow along with their cues, trying to bring all my awareness into my breath.
As someone who has experienced lots of anxiety and depression since early childhood, yoga has been the best tool that I`ve found to help me with all the shit that I`ve been carrying with me since then. I finally stopped comparing myself to others. I didn't need to look in the mirror to ensure that I`m enough anymore. I`ve begun to feel happiness from within, and love and accept myself just the way I am.
“A little confidence issue story: Since 8th grade in high school everyone laughed at me because I didn’t have boobs. Yes, I always had small breasts. Since I discovered a push-up bra, it was a constant part of me., I even considered a boob job a couple of times. That was until yoga taught me how to love and accept myself just the way I am. Today I barely wear a bra, and I feel super comfortable and confident with myself.”
I finally stopped pushing for perfection., I finally stopped being obsessed with my external looks, and making everything harder by trying to make myself look better. That mentality didn`t change overnight, I would say it took a good few years to shed lots of layers, maybe the first 4 to 5 years after I started practicing yoga. It still comes back here and there once in a while, but I know how to deal with that now. I know how to let go, and bring my awareness to more important things. I know my value. I know how to love and respect myself and my body so much more than when I was younger.
Sometime along the way, yoga wasn`t enough for me anymore. I was craving more knowledge and education on how to become the healthiest version of myself. Yes, yoga has helped me with countless problems, but I was still struggling with health issues, fatigue, acne, etc. I didn't know how to eat right for my body, I didn't know how to keep my energy levels up throughout the day, I was sick a lot, and I didn't want to feel that way anymore. To find answers to my problems, I enrolled in a health coaching online university. It was a mind-blowing journey for me. Shortly after graduation, I enrolled in a fitness nutrition specialist program. Not only was I finally able to help myself improve my personal health and kick ass with custom nutrition plans that were designed for my needs and my lifestyle, but I took my yoga practice to the next level. With proper nutrition, I was finally able to do a fucking handstand that I had been practicing over 5 years with no success. As my nutrition changed, I was able to gain more strength quickly and the handstand just became second nature to me. I finally knew how to eat right for my body and support my yoga practice with the right nutrition. Additionally, I'm helping many other people live at the peak of their health and performance with my custom nutrition plans for their individual needs.
Today, in my late thirties, I feel better than ever, and I am beyond grateful for my journey that now allows me to help others create a better version of themselves.
It's all a matter of habit. If you want yoga or any other fitness to be part of your reality, you must create a daily habit of practice, until you realize you just can't live without it.
It's never easy, and you will face a million reasons why not! Make a strong one for YES and follow it, every single day. Do it for yourself, do it for your family, do it for God, just do it! Create a lifestyle practice to be your best self. If you need a mentor or coach, I am here for you! I did it for myself, and I `ve done it for many others. I would be happy to help you.
Every single day I get message or five with questions about yoga:
How do I find motivation? I constantly work on my mindset and my priorities.
How do you find time? I wake up at 5am, and I don't watch TV.
How long is my practice? Sometimes 5 minutes, some days up to 2 hours, but I do my best to keep it every single day.
Do I practice everyday? Of the 365 days in a year, at least 350! So, basically YES!
Please help me! I want to do yoga more. No one can help you besides you! You can sign up with me for a private coaching / mentoring program, but you and only you must do the work!
Have you always been so flexible and strong? Not at all! When I began my journey, I had zero flexibility, zero strength, zero body awareness.
This is a little piece of all the messages I receive daily! Your habits, your priorities, your mindset, your action steps, your excuses, your choices, even the people that you surround yourself with have a lot to do with where you are today in life. Do you want change? Begin to work on these areas and see what happens!
I hope you enjoyed your reading! Namaste, Liel.