Hello blog, I’ve missed you! I hadn’t intended to stay away for so long but summer came, family activities picked up, and here I am, months later. One of the things that’s taken up my time is my new fitness routine. I’ve been practicing yoga for over a year now and in the last few months have upped the frequency to almost daily.
I first tried yoga eons ago when I was in college. Back then it seemed to be more of a new age-y activity. The class was for the gentle, meditative type of hatha yoga and my instructor’s name was Coco. She had long, gray, braided hair, complete with feathers. I stopped going after a few classes because it always seemed that I would fall asleep as soon as we got into corpse pose. A nice respite from an afternoon of classes, but I could have easily achieved that in the comfort of my own dorm room. Flash forward to last year when the neighbor who runs the daycare my daughter attends recommended hot yoga to me. My first thought was, “Uh, yoga? I don’t think so.” My second thought was, “Isn’t it gross with all those hot, sweaty people dripping on you?” She went on to explain that, no, it wasn’t nasty and that the heat really helped to loosen her muscles and relieve her arthritis. She gave me a couple of free passes, I thanked her and promptly forgot where I put them.
After a couple of months, I started thinking about trying yoga in earnest. For me, the thing with exercising has always been consistency. I’m not the type of person who loves to work out. I do it because I’m vain and want to look good and if it’s going to happen on a regular basis, I better love it. I also wanted something that didn’t require a ton of equipment or weights or lots of space. I had been training with weights and trying some primal-friendly, cross-fit type workouts and while I was improving my muscle tone, I didn’t want to be tied to heavy weights as I travel quite a bit for work. Yoga was my answer on those two fronts.
So I signed up for a free week of classes and, wouldn’t you know it, I ended up going everyday for five days. I would have been there seven days straight if it hadn’t been for the business trip that interrupted my free yoga. It was all the things I thought it would be – hot, sweaty, drippy. I was tired and sore but I also felt renewed and refreshed. Yoga is all about uniting and balancing opposites. In order to fully “be” in a posture, there is both pushing and pulling, extending and compressing. The muscles have to be engaged in every which way. And you have to breathe. Sounds simple but when you’re trying to hold a pose, the breath instinctively stops. Reversing that tendency and breathing through the pose is what will get you through it. This facet of training the body is what I was missing from other types of exercises. What I really value, though, perhaps even more than the physical aspect, is what it does to my mind. Taking 60 or 90 minutes a day (a huge luxury in and of itself) for my type-A, obsessive, multi-tasking self to quiet this chaotic mind is a humbling challenge. I have experienced some emotional releases mid-pose that have caught me off guard and almost threw me off my feet. I’ve recently entered into what will be a life-altering commitment and yoga is helping me to grasp and process it. Yoga for me is not just a practice but a space; somewhere for me to both stretch and think, exert and let go, rejoice and grieve. No matter how long of a day I’ve had and how I feel going into it, I always come out feeling better and rejuvenated. Physically speaking, I am probably in the fittest shape I’ve ever been and my body continues to evolve. I have more flexibility, better posture and I feel more symmetrical.
So I’m going to wrap up this yoga love fest. I hope you have a chance to try yoga for yourself, you might like it. I’ll be posting a recipe shortly, I promise!