I’ve always been intimidated by yoga. I love the idea of it, but the actual practice is a different story. Whenever I joined a class, I felt like I was doing it wrong. That all changed when I met Grace Warlick, who goes by the online name, “GraceYoga.”
The few times I tried yoga over the years, I loved the tranquility, the quiet meditation, the soothing music, the deep breathing, and the instructor’s calming voice. As long as I focused on myself, I was in love with the practice. As soon as I started looking around the room, and seeing everyone else balancing better than I was, reaching higher than I could, and looking like they were posing for a yoga magazine, I beat myself up, convinced I was doing it all wrong.
As women, we tend to be way too hard on ourselves. Whether it’s motherhood, job performance, or even a hobby, we are often quick to compare our inadequacies with others who are, in our minds, more capable and confident.
So, imagine my fear when a Growing Bolder producer came to me and said, “Hey, I would like you to interview GraceYoga live, followed by participating in her yoga class — on camera.”
Coming from a 25-year broadcasting career, I was fine with the interview part. But I broke out in a cold sweat thinking of doing yoga poses in front of a live online audience. Despite my producer’s reassurances of how easy it would be, I still went into the session with trepidation.
As soon as I started the interview with Warlick, aka “GraceYoga,” the 39-year-old certified yoga instructor, she put my mind at ease.
“If you can breathe, you can do yoga,” she said.
“Okay, cool,” I thought. “I can breathe. I’ve got this.”
Then I peeked at my co-worker, Jill Middleton, whose body was made to do yoga, and my nerves kicked up.
“Look at how she balances on one foot and isn’t even wobbling like I am!” I told myself.
As if reading my thoughts, the instructor said, “You will never look the same as someone else doing a yoga pose.”
That was my a-ha moment!
“Listen to your body as you’re practicing yoga,” she implored us. “Everyone has different body shapes and types and different limits. Just because a certain yoga pose is right for someone else, doesn’t mean it is right for you.”
Warlick encouraged me and the rest of our Growing Bolder yoga class to pay attention to what we were feeling.
“There should never be any pain in yoga,” she said. “Think of yoga simply as a way to wring out toxins from your body.”
My favorite example was when she compared our bodies to a dirty dishrag. Stay with me. It’s not as bad it sounds.
“When you do yoga, you squeeze all the toxins out, much like squeezing the dirty water from a dishrag,” she said. “Once the dirty water is gone, we can add clean water and use the rag again. Yoga takes out the toxins naturally and gently.”
Warlick started practicing yoga in college. She noticed the benefits immediately when her stress level lowered. She said she felt relaxed, powerful, and had a positive experience from the start. Weighing 200 pounds as a teenager, Warlick said that yoga helped her drop 75 pounds.
“Yoga helped me shed the weight and keep it off for the last 20 years,” she said.
In 2020, Warlick began streaming her yoga classes on the online platform Twitch.
“Twitch really brings people together,” Warlick said. “Everyone is so supportive, and the other streamers really care about the health and wellness of people.”
TV’s “Mister Rogers” served as inspiration for Warlick.
“He talked to viewers like they were the only ones in the room,” she explained. “My goal is to treat people one-on-one, even when a whole group is in the Twitch room practicing together.”
After the 40-minute yoga class with Warlick, I felt relaxed, which was like a miracle, considering the stress I felt going into the session. Yoga wasn’t as intimidating as I once thought. In fact, I would recommend yoga to people of all ages who are looking to improve their physical and mental health.
“Yoga is effective no matter what level you’re at,” Warlick assured me. “If you do the postures at your own safe, personal edge and breathe deeply, you will get the 100% benefit of yoga.”
Now it’s up to me to follow her advice and give myself some grace. I’ll be taking more yoga classes now that I can think of myself as a dirty dishrag, wringing out the toxins!