But it was one of the best decisions of my life. I do it nearly every day — there's usually a couple of days a week where my schedule will keep me from doing it, but on those days when I know I'm going to be swamped, I get up an extra hour earlier to make sure I get time to do it.
Originally I thought I was just doing yoga for the physical benefits. In fact, I never had any idea, really, that yoga was actually an entire philosophical system similar to Buddhism, which I'd always felt drawn to. Only after I started learning about it did I learn this, and suddenly it all clicked into place. The asanas and the 8-limbed holistic path just make sense for me.
I'm certainly not as toned and muscular as some of the yogis and yoginis I've seen, but it's definitely toned things up for me. Friends have noticed that I look trimmer. I've gone down a size or two when I shop now, even though I weigh the same.
Probably the best benefit, though, is the completely involuntary change in my eating habits. I'm not on a diet anymore, but I eat so much better than I did before I started yoga, and it's had a profound effect on how I feel, probably moreso than how I actually look. A year ago you had to make me eat a salad by pouring ranch dressing and cheese all over it so I couldn't taste the vegetables; now, I actually crave bowls of salad made up of spinach leaves, mandarin orange slices, some pine nuts, and a light red wine vinegar dressing. As a carryover from my low-carb days, I still don't eat pasta, white rice, or bread except maybe a serving every couple of weeks (usually if we go out to dinner, for example). When I crave something with a bit more substance to it, I eat brown rice. And all my meals have become lighter and healthier naturally. I don't feel like I'm dieting...I just feel like my body has finally gotten into line on its own nutritionally. This doesn't mean I don't indulge in the occasional "oops, did I really just eat a half a pint of Ben & Jerry's?!" But those indulgences are far more rare than they used to be. And hoo boy, they weren't very rare before. And when they do happen, I get a far greater sense of having been satiated for a particular craving and a much smaller sense of the need to repeat it for a long while.
There is one thing I wish for. I wish that yoga classes weren't so damn expensive. I practice at home but have been looking at studios in the area. There are schools-a-plenty around SoCal and there are three within a few miles of my place. But they're prohibitively expensive, which is sad because I really would like to have a place I could go, say, once a week, just often enough to get the benefits of having an instructor check my alignment and my progress, feel the group dynamic of a yoga class, but continue practicing at home for the quiet, solitary, introspective benefits that I really enjoy. There's a hot yoga studio just down the street that has a drop-in class for $16. I'd really love to try hot yoga — I've stepped up my routine to an ashtanga vinyasa sequence that is a bit more physically challenging than what I'd been doing, though I'm still a beginner at it, and hot yoga uses those sequences in a really hot room to get you sweating. I may give the class a try.
And what I'd really like to do is find a place that has some kind of day-long intensive. There are many yoga retreats that take you off for a week or so to some exotic location to practice yoga against the backdrop of a rainforest or something. I don't want that. What I want is to take my mat, strap, and blocks somewhere for, say, 7am, and spend an entire day doing yoga, doing meditation, studying the Yoga Sutras, learning how to do inversions, getting good instruction on backbends, and things like that, and come home that night. Like a yoga retreat in single-day-form. Why is there nothing like that in this area? I'd pay decent money to spend a whole Saturday for one of those.
The closest I'll get is the Yoga Journal San Francisco Conference, which I'm not certain I can go to since it's nearly $300 to attend, not including airfare and hotel. Which is unfortunate, because they have a Beginner's Conference this year that has everything I listed above.
I need to find some $300+ extra writing work, that's what I need to do...