Ali Maffucci, founder of Inspiralized, is taking us along on her journey as a beginning yoga student. Check back here monthly for updates and follow along with the hashtag #yjtrueconfessions.
OK, I’ll admit it: I’m someone who used to think of yoga as a stretching workout only suitable for “rest days.” I’m also the type of person who believes that exercise time is wasted if you’re not profusely sweating and/or out of breath by the end. If you don’t have “jelly legs” an hour later, what was the point? I love HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts and high-cardio fitness (spinning and running are my go-tos). You get the picture: I’m a no-pain, no-gain exerciser. And stretching? I’d rather sneak in an extra set of squats!
I know, I know, not very yogic of me. Which is why I decided to challenge myself and make a commitment to practice yoga at least once a week for the rest of 2017.
Before I get into why I am making yoga a weekly priority in my life and how I plan to stick to the goal, let me introduce myself and my yoga background (or, lack thereof).
Meet Ali Maffucci
I started the culinary brand Inspiralized—the ultimate resource and community for cooking with a spiralizer, the kitchen tool that turns vegetables and fruits into noodles. I also created my own spiralizer, the Inspiralizer, and have written two New York Times best-selling cookbooks, Inspiralized and Inspiralize Everything.
Considering this, I think it’s safe to say that I have the healthy-eating part of wellness down. I eat primarily vegan and vegetarian, but I’m also your average 29-year-old woman: I love wine, pizza night, and curling up with my husband, Lu, after a long day and polishing off a bag of chocolate chip cookies. I practice moderation and the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time I eat whole, real foods and 20% of the time I let myself indulge in life’s delicacies, like rosé and chocolate.
I’ve always thought I was a woman who lived her life in total balance—until the end of last year, when I found myself consistently lacking inspiration at work, feeling fidgety and restless in the evenings, and not giving myself enough tranquil time.
My “me time” was my at the gym, but my workouts almost always included blasting hip hop music through my earbuds while doing split jumps and burpees, or following a spin instructor’s commands to blaring house music. My mind didn’t have time to relax, reflect, and listen to my body and what it wanted. I also found a disconnect between my diet and my exercise: I was eating mostly plant-based and humanely, but the workouts I was doing were so harsh and tense.
See also 10 Myths About Yogis
Why She’s Committing to a Year of Yoga
So, as 2016 came to a close, I decided not to make a resolution, but to set a challenge for myself instead. I wanted to commit to something for a full year—to give something a chance and see if I could fit it into my life forever. Instead of imposing a restriction on myself or setting a strict regimen, I wanted to do something good for my soul, which I don’t nurture as often as I’d like. I flirted with the idea of meditation, but I wanted something that would also introduce me to a new community. And so I decided to become a yogi!
As I mentioned, I’ve always viewed yoga as an “off-day” workout. As part of my plan for 2017, I’ll be doing yoga on my regular workout days (I strive to exercise six days a week with one rest day). I’ll still keep my rest day, which will help me view yoga as a priority in my overall wellness—both mental and physical.
I’ve got my concerns: For starters, I’m not flexible. I can barely touch my toes and I definitely can’t lie on my back and extend my leg straight up in the air. I’m also not centered mentally. As an entrepreneur, my brain is trained to run a mile a minute. What’s more, I have pretty high expectations of this ancient practice: I’m hoping yoga brings a sense of peace to my life, along with the physical benefits of muscle strength, respiratory health, and improved flexibility. Most of all, I want to learn how to listen to my body and train myself to breathe well. (I find myself holding my breath throughout the day, which I know isn’t exactly ideal.)
I’ll be turning to my community of millions of blog readers and hundreds of thousands of social media followers through Inspiralized—as well as all of you, YogaJournal.com readers—for support. To read about my yoga journey and help keep me accountable, check back here each month and in the meantime, follow along with the hashtag #inspiralizedyogayear.
In the meantime, what’s your best advice for me as I embark on this yearlong journey toward becoming a yogi? What styles of yoga should I try, what gear do I need, and what do you wish you knew when you started practicing yoga? Tell us on Instagram @inspiralized and @yogajournal with hashtag #yjtrueconfessions. Any and all advice, welcome!
See also The Best Yoga Mats of 2016