In 2016 I reluctantly stepped on a mat at local Kansas City yoga studio. I knew this would be my last attempt at a modality that most were shocked to find I hated. (Not disliked…no, hated ).
As a collegiate athlete and believer in all things holistic, I couldn’t understand why I felt no connection with yoga. For years I tried to engrain this practice into my life, but every time I stepped on the mat, all I felt was anger. My athlete brain kept saying “I don’t get it… let’s just workout!”.
The following year, I found myself on the mat at that studio over 300 times.
As I grew to love this practice, I would come to realize that my reason for disliking yoga in the past boiled down to one thing: it forced me to slow down in every way possible. Each movement was meticulous in nature, guided by either an inhale or an exhale, and was often held for more time than I had patience for. The stillness of savasana at the end of the practice was enough to drive my active mind crazy. And the entire practice of yoga contradicted every notion engrained in me as an athlete-but itlikely would have saved my career.
The art of recovering the body after intense training is no longer taboo, and I would give anything to turn back time and give “Mariah the athlete” the yogic tools of recovery and rest that I have now. By incorporating just a few yoga postures daily, I would have prevented injury, sped up muscle recovery, and taken a few moments of silence in my mind.
With years under my belt of being both a yoga student and teacher, I can honestly say the tools I have received from this practice have changed my life. Now, I bring what I have learned to the world of athletics-a world that will always have a special place in my heart.