Society and Culture
Yoga Got Me Through Law School and the Bar Exam
I joke a lot about the struggles of law school and bar prep. I’ve done it here, and here, too. I’ll likely do it in the future as well. I’m beginning to realize that constantly discussing a problem is an exercise in futility if there is no talk of a solution, though. With that in mind, let’s talk about my solution for getting through three years of law school. It’s called working out, and more specifically for me, yoga.
I first discovered yoga about four months before I entered law school, when an ex of mine suggested I try a class. I resisted for various reasons, the main two excuses being “yoga isn’t a guy sport” and “I want a real workout when I go to the gym.” Finally, after avoiding taking a class for months, I checked it out one day. That was in April 2010, and I started attending classes semi-regularly after that.
When done correctly, yoga is a great workout and an amazing way to minimize stress in one’s life. It’s calming and meditative, but it’s also very physically demanding and pushes your mental limits.
I was a casual yoga attendee before law school; I would go to a class a week at my gym, and only if there was nothing else more exciting occurring. I always noted how much better I felt after a class, but I chalked that up to endorphins that accompany physical activity.
The Law School-Induced Breakthrough
During the all-important second year of law school, I was more stressed out than my first year. (Side note: contrary to popular belief, law school gets more insane with each passing year. If it doesn’t, you’re doing something incorrectly.) Just going to the gym or running for thirty minutes was not having the same mental effect that it once did. Because I was so busy, I figured the safest bet was to cut something from my schedule, and working out got the boot. For the majority of that semester, I rarely worked out, which gave me more time to focus on school, internships, OCI, and the million other things with which second year law school students juggle.
Right around finals time, I was getting dressed to go to the library, and my jeans didn’t fit. I was livid, and I let all of my law school friends know (in typically dramatic fashion, with a few expletives thrown in) that my legal education was not worth getting fat.
I immediately joined a yoga studio that was equidistant between my house and my school. This way I’d have no choice but to work out. The plan was to re-try yoga as a way to ease back into a fitness plan.
That was in November 2011, and the rest is history.
Anybody who knows me now will tell you that I’m obsessed with yoga and working out. Something about mental and physical exertion while pushing your body to limits that you never before thought possible really calms me down. In fact, I don’t think I’d have maintained my sanity throughout the remainder of law school without all of those down dogs and warrior positions.
The Evolution of My Obsession into Full-Blown Addiction
This is especially true during bar prep, which I disrespectfully refer to as Guantanamo. Guantanamo was so terrible that I went to the gym five or six times a week, just because the mood-enhancing endorphins served as a counter-balance to the joy-stealing lectures about secured transactions, trust law, and the thousand other subjects that New York insists on testing.
Even now, in my post-bar exam/pre-results purgatory, I go to the gym to counteract the stress and anxiety that accompanies the five or six “so did you pass the bar yet?” inquiries I receive a day. In the beginning, I’d say “If I pass you’ll know, and if I don’t we’ll never talk about it again.” Now I just say “Namaste,” which luckily is just as off-putting to some people. Either way, I get asked less about the bar now.
All of this is to say, to everyone who is in law school and learning all of the awesome and not-so-awesome minutiae of the legal world, be sure to give yourself a physical outlet. It may not be yoga, but definitely do something. It’s not good to be stressed out all the time, mainly because stress causes you to frown, which leaves wrinkles, which makes you look old. I suggest kickboxing—believe me, sometimes the law will make you want to punch things.
Peter Davidson is a recent graduate of law school who rants about news & politics and raves over the ups & downs of FUNemployment in the current legal economy.
Images courtesy of [Peter Davidson]