My other most recent change is adopting the practice of yoga. For years I have been saying I will take it up. I have been told countless times it would be a good addition to my workout routine. I have more or less put yoga on the bottom of the pile for many reasons. As it happens, persistent back pain, my preference for high intensity workouts, and repeat visits to my orthopedist resulted in a prescription for physical therapy short-term and yoga long-term. I dragged my feet starting up yoga because I seem to injure myself in every new athletic activity. Plus, I found it hard to believe anyone can walk into a yoga class and know what they are doing. Though I resisted getting onto a yoga mat, reminders kept popping up. Friends would ask if I had tried yoga yet. Articles would appear in my inbox about the benefits of yoga. My Mom and a few friends started telling me how great yoga is for back problems. One friend sent me examples of poses from a yoga book her Mom recommends for back issues. It was sort of like yoga was all over the place. I was avoiding yoga and yoga was not avoiding me.
Yoga is not for the faint of heart. If you are doing it right, it can be quite challenging. I mean the fundamentals can be challenging – I am not doing anything crazy like balancing on my pinkies. I have had moments when I have wondered if I would collapse onto the mat. The good news is I love a challenge and I love the process of learning. I overcame my initial injury concerns by taking one on one classes with an instructor to learn the right way versus diving in without any experience. I am so glad took this approach because it immediately revealed how disconnected my mind and body are when I exercise. I discovered I have been using my back muscles groups improperly (oh yes, that happens). I became aware of sore muscles that were probably last used when I was a baby learning to roll over. I am pretty sure my body is always running after my head. Yoga is teaching me how to reattach my head to my body (now there is a visual) and to develop awareness of muscles, joints, limbs and use of breath.
A few yoga classes have taught me I have needed to change the way I exercise for quite some time. Yoga is a good balance to weights and cardio in the gym. It is sort of a commitment to myself to strengthen what has been neglected and to gain different perspective on health and well being. I read an article and I cannot recall when or who wrote it but this stood out to me: Lifting weights builds muscle, yoga builds strength. Strength is a loaded word really. Yoga involves physical, mental and spiritual strength. All of those things are valuable throughout life and I am amazed how many AH HA moments I have in yoga sessions. I have dropped down to practice downward dog during conference calls because why not? You can take yoga with you anywhere you go.
My long term goal is to keep up with the practice to ensure I am active and mobile when I am an old lady. The thought of trying to change my ways when I have hit the years of stiff joints and decreased mobility is really unappealing. With any luck, in the near term, back issues will be a memory. That said, I had to step out of my comfort zone to step into a yoga studio, that is for sure. I still feel really silly when I start a yoga session and then get over it as I progress. I have yet to put my finger on why I feel so weird about it, however, that will come to me in time. My awkwardness on a yoga mat is far better than the pain and discomfort I have experienced with my back over the last 20 years. I show myself time and time again, once I make the changes I need to make, the long term benefits are always really uplifting….even if I have to be smacked in the head (or back) a few times.
Thank you for reading this blog!