Yoga Improved My Life and How It Can For You Too

A few years ago I left New Jersey and moved to the San Francisco Bay area for a great job opportunity. Who would have thought moving 2,800 miles would expose me to yoga. It was the second day of working with my CEO when she asked me to bring a change of clothes because we were going to take a yoga class offered at the main campus.

I remember thinking to myself, “Yoga? This is such a California thing.” My boss sold me on the idea because it would be an opportunity to meet other employees throughout the company. To impress my new boss, I decided to go. I wasn’t going to lose anything by trying it out and who knows I might even enjoy it.

At first I didn’t get yoga but would occasionally take the class on campus. I eventually became friends with Will, the yoga instructor on campus. Although, I thought yoga was interesting I eventually just stopped going. I probably only attended 4 classes in a span of 2 months.

At this point in my job, I was extremely busy growing into my senior executive role and building a marketing department. I was working 6-7 days a week pulling in 70+ hours. I didn’t mind it because I enjoyed what I was doing and in many cases didn’t feel like I was even working.

Eventually all that work, mental challenges and traveling around the country took a toll on my health. I went from fresh faced in 2008 to stressed out Jason by 2011.

Jason Vitug
Jason in 2008 to 2012

I developed breathing problems; intermittent headaches and my body ached all the time. I was hospitalized 3 times and one time during a business trip outside of Boston. I literally couldn’t get out of bed or move. My assistant tried getting a hold of me because I missed an appointment. She got worried and called the hotel who promptly called the EMT.

I spent 2 days in the hospital being monitored and they ran every test imaginable. I had 104 fever, shakes, sweats and aches but they couldn’t find any potential causes. I remember the doctors going over my results telling me I was the sickest healthiest person he has seen. Eventually, the diagnosis was I contracted a traveling bug.

I went to a doctor in Jersey who wanted to put me on migraine relief medication that may require me to take some other pills to counteract side effects. I opted to wait for a second opinion.

When I got back to Palo Alto, I went to my doctor who ran some more tests and found nothing. She eventually determined that I was getting sick from stress. The pivotal moment was when I experienced vertigo. If you haven’t had vertigo, well it’s not the same feeling as being dizzy. It’s worst.

My doctor wanted me to do more outdoor activities and suggested I try yoga. I replied, “Yoga? Oh yes, I’ve do…er…done that before.” She says, “Great. Well try again and go on hikes, read a book not related to work and listen to calm music and relax your mind.” I remember thinking again this must be a California thing.

In order to get my mind around the idea, I decided to think of this as part of my workout routine.

So yoga and I met once again.

Jason Vitug Yoga Belly
At a yoga retreat in Northern CA with Yoga Belly Studio

My instructor friend who held yoga classes in my company’s offices opened his own studio, Yoga Belly. My first class was at 7pm after a hectic workday. Will instructed all of us to lie on our backs and relax.

As I lay on my rented yoga mat with my eyes closed, my mind began racing to every thought possible. I was thinking about my inability to relax, then the work I needed to get done, my future trip, my relationship and family back in Jersey. Every thought possible was running through my mind and I didn’t realize my body was trembling.

Will placed his hands on my shoulder and quietly goes, “Can you relax your shoulders?” I uttered back, “Yes, it’s relaxed.” He responded with, “Okay but you shoulders are arched forward.”

After class, Will mentioned that my body would tremble during poses that involved doing nothing. He said I have all this pent up body stress. He challenged me to take yoga for an entire week consecutively. I ended up taking yoga 20 times that month.

Yoga helped me relax, improved my health and it also took away this hip pain I had from a bad fall during snowboarding.

I went to yoga with the idea that I wanted relieve stress and fit in a work out in between my busy schedule. I ended up learning a valuable skill in taking “me” time. The hour or 90 minutes in yoga class is time that I focus on the present moment. I set my intentions before class, have thoughts of gratitude for people and life and get in touch with my breath.

Don’t get fooled. Yoga is a workout but you can’t help but hear the inner you when you’ve quieted the noise in your head. However, it’s not too shabby that I can now do head stands and arm balances.

Jason Yoga Headstand in Borneo
Jason Doing a headstand in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo

With all that said, yoga is great but can also be expensive. Some drop in class can cost $15 all the way to $40. Monthly fees can range from $95 to $200 a month. It all depends on the studio and the teachers that are available. I’ve noticed there are more yoga classes in urban centers or ritzy suburban towns.

If it wasn’t for my boss or the instructor at Tyco who are now two people I consider friends, I would have not discovered yoga. I hoped this story helps you discover yoga as well.

Don’t let the price keep your from doing yoga. There are ways to take classes without breaking your budget. My first advice is to shop around for the best studios and try each instructor. You’ll discover not all instructors are the same and you’ll connect to a style of teaching that suits you. Don’t get discouraged with your first yoga class. Try another with a different instructor.

6 Ways to Enjoy Yoga on a Budget

Yoga for Free

Do yoga with YouTube. Yoga is great in a studio which is my preference but if your budget conscious you may want to mix your yoga practice between studio classes and at home. Check out Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube. She has dozens of videos that are easy to follow.

Do yoga through email. I signed up for this free yoga challenge course through email. You receive one yoga email each day for 30 days taught by Erin Motz. Whether you’re new to yoga or want to get into it more, it’s a great deal. My friend who lives 1700 miles away challenged me to see who can complete the course. We both won.

Volunteer at a studio. Many studios offer an opportunity for you to volunteer your time to check in students, prep studio and clean after classes. In return, you get access to free yoga classes.

Yoga at a Discount

Ask for first-time student specials. If you’re new to yoga or looking for a new studio, ask about special rates that get you to try the studio. Some first time student deals can knock off 70% in your first month’s dues.

Check out Groupon and Living Social. The daily deal apps can score you a discounted rate on a studio. It’s usually reserved for first time visitors but read the rules as each promotion can vary. I’ve seen a first time 30-day unlimited class that normally goes for $95 reduced to $30.

Purchase a pack of classes. You might only have one day a week to squeeze in yoga so paying for a monthly pass may not be ideal. Many studios offer class packs that can range from 6, 12, 20 or more classes. Terms vary but most can can be used anytime within a timeframe.

Gym membership. Some gyms offer yoga as part of your monthly membership. If you have a gym membership find out if it includes yoga classes. Although some instructors teach at franchises gym locations and in studios, the yoga experience can vary drastically.

Read More >>> 7 Ways to Save on Gym Memberships

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Jason Vitug

Jason Vitug is founder at phroogal, creator of the award-winning project the Road to Financial Wellness, and author of the bestseller and NY Times reviewed book, You Only Live Once: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life.

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