She Runs by the Seashore starts her yoga journey

Here I am with my new yoga mat after finishing a recent class. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

After years of thinking yoga wasn’t really for me, I now find myself looking forward to my next yoga session.

When I did yoga early in my college career, I wasn’t fully invested in the idea. It’s now been probably almost 8 years since then, so I’m now also at a different stage in my life, which could make a difference.

My friend Dana teaches at Soul Yoga Studio here in Salisbury, Maryland, and I decided to try one of her classes in December. I loved it! After mentioning to my boyfriend that I really enjoyed the class, he got me a 10-pack of classes for Christmas. (Thanks, Mike!) Now, I have made Monday my yoga night, and I have also gone to two hot yoga classes with friends on Sundays.

The class I have been taking on Mondays, with Dana, is a Gentle Yoga class. It doesn’t seem to include extremely difficult moves, but it also doesn’t feel like it’s too easy. Practicing yoga is a new challenge for my body. For years, my only or main exercise has been running, and I am now trying to branch out — of course I’m not going to stop running; I just want to add other types of cross-training and exercise as well. (My friend Jordan also teaches there, and if you are reading this, Jordan, I want to try one of your classes, too!)

Yoga tests flexibility and balance in new ways, and I am excited to see how my body will adapt as I continue to keep yoga a part of my routine.

The classes I have taken move at an easy-to-follow pace, and it’s been easy to understand what I’m supposed to do, even though I’m still learning some of the poses and their names. For those of us who can’t do every pose yet, teachers provide modification options. The teachers refer to yoga as a “practice,” which is an accurate term for really anything — I think we are always learning.

I also like that the music is the regular type of music that I would normally listen to — a couple artists I remembered hearing are Ra Ra Riot and Alt-J.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the hot yoga class I took on Sundays because I don’t love running in the heat, but as you may have noticed earlier, I did mention that I went twice. I liked this class, too. It was longer — an hour and a half as opposed to the hourlong Monday night class — and more difficult moves were included (I just did modifications or tried to do what I could).

Although it felt hot, it certainly didn’t feel like running in the heat — which can be miserable for me. Those classes were also more crowded, but it’s nice to know that so many people will come out for something like this on a Sunday morning.

I took a picture to show the difference in my old yoga mat, at left, and my new yoga mat, at right. I hadn’t seen a yoga mat that looked like my new one before. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Since I’m getting more into yoga, I wanted to invest in a good mat. I previously had a mat I bought at Target — basically the cheapest thing I could find — and pieces are chunking off. When I asked Dana for a recommendation, she recommended the brand Manduka. I tried her mat before deciding to purchase my own. It’s very grippy and definitely seems to be high-quality.

The mat I bought was on sale, and for being a new customer to join Manduka’s email list, I got an additional 10 percent off. There is still one of the type of mat I got — eKO Lite — on sale for $48. You can also try Amazon if you’re looking for a discount off the regular price (I always am).

If you’re in the Salisbury, Maryland, area and interested in checking out Soul Yoga Studio, you can get a discounted rate if it’s your first time: either that one class for $8 or the first month of unlimited yoga for $40.

Any readers out there practice yoga? Has it impacted your running?

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This post has been edited to reflect the number of years since college. I actually made myself older in my earlier post.