When I became a yoga teacher four years ago, I noticed that people always asked me the same questions — the most prominent being, “How did you get started?”

At first, I was taken aback because I had never considered it. My parents were athletic people who signed us up for sports the second we were old enough. Trying out every activity — from tee-ball to karate, horseback riding to weight lifting — our parents encouraged us to give it a shot if we showed any interest in the new endeavor. Sure, I went on a short hiatus now and then or changed up the activity, but I never stopped moving my body.

With that constant movement, I found the habit bleeding into my everyday life. I find random times in the day to stretch if my body hurts or for fun because I am bored and the kettle takes too long. But that is what I have done since I was a kid. I intentionally or unintentionally physically move when possible because it feels good. And I have my parents to thank for teaching me that.

My parent’s relationship with fitness shaped my views on how to take care of myself

My parents are still active in their day-to-day lives. My father started on the track team as a pole vaulter, and my mother was a cheerleader. He has since moved on to daily stretching and lifting to strengthen his body, as his job as a mechanic is highly labor intensive. My mother still loves to dance and practices Zumba, whether in person or online. She is also open to trying out a new sport, like rock climbing, when her kids bully her into it.

The big difference is that not only did my parents tell us that physical exercise was necessary for a healthy lifestyle, but they also took the time to join the fun. My mother went roller skating with us, and my father spent his weekends teaching me to pitch when I thought I wanted to leave cheerleading for softball. They encouraged our relationship to fitness and participated in the activities with us.

I started yoga at 13 because I desperately wanted to improve my cheerleading skills. I had gone to cheerleading camp for the first time and was floored when I learned that you could make a living as a National Cheerleader Associate (NCA) camp counselor. I had found my dream job, and with it, I knew I needed to step up my game if I was going to compete on that level.

My parents encouraged me every step of the way, and I spent six years trying to make this dream a reality. But in the end, even with all my training in weight lifting, yoga, and gymnastics, my dream didn’t come to fruition, and I traded in my pom-poms. I still kept the habit of exercising, though. It was just the norm. Even though I had left the team setting, I still made time in my daily schedule to train.

I am now passing on what I have learned

When people asked, “How did you get started,” my initial answer was, “Oh, I just started as a kid.” I shrugged it off as if there was no challenge for me to show up day in and day out to challenge my body in uncomfortable positions. It bummed people out. This leads to their follow-up question, “Why should I start now when I’m behind?” My intention was not to discourage anyone; the best part about yoga is that it isn’t a competitive sport against one another but an opportunity to improve one’s balance between mind and body.

Since then, I have changed my response to: “Oh, I started when I was younger. But when you start, isn’t important; that fact that you stick to it is what matters.” I want to take the focus off the past of “I should have started sooner” and make sure students focus on the fact that they need to stick with it because even if they started as kids, that would not benefit them in the future if they have given up on movement.

My parents didn’t teach me that I needed to start young to be an athletic adult. They taught me that I needed to follow my passions and stick with them for as long as they gave me joy.

One does not need athletic parents to live an athletic life. With resources like YouTube, you can access unlimited tutorials and courses and hundreds of hours of free material where you can pick any activity you wish and find someone ecstatic to teach you.



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