Yoga Love

threesome_yoga_tree_pose

Back when I didn’t know a thing about yoga, just the word itself would conjure up images in my mind. Mostly of New Age-y people wearing chakra jewelry and chanting Om while twisting themselves into pretzels.

I was intrigued by yoga and knew it was an ancient practice that undoubtedly had some sound health benefits. And everyone from Madonna to Sting to my son’s second grade teacher gushed on and on about how it’s changed their life. Still, I was skeptical.

I could never imagine myself in all my klutzy glory even attempting a single pose, let alone practicing regularly. And now a mere couple of Downward Dog years later, I have become one of those wackadoodle people telling everyone I know that yoga is life-changing.

How can some simple poses and stretches do that? First, I’ll introduce you to the old pre-yoga “can barely bend over to tie her shoes lest her back snap like a twig” Darla. I’ll take you back to that first day my husband dusted off an old Yoga DVD he bought me (and I failed to hide adequately). He dared (okay, begged) me to try it while I was 4 months pregnant with my second child.

On a typical day, I am a nervous, high-strung, OCD-ish, dangerously bordering on neurotic person. Being pregnant only magnified these lovely traits. I was in a state of constant emotional flux, with my heart and mind racing into a million different directions at once.

I was 36, I knew this would be my last baby and I wanted to savor being pregnant and truly enjoy it this time around. I needed to chill. I wanted to chill. Could stretching a little and some deep breathing do that for me?

It was time to try.

After I glanced around to make sure no one was watching and drew the drapes, I popped the DVD in, rolled out my yoga mat and prepared myself for a painful and uncomfortable experience.

A breathy, much too calm voice filled the room. I heard the words “asana” and “namaste” and giggled. I breathed in and raised my arms. I breathed out and my arms came down. This isn’t so bad, I thought. Breathing? Easy! Innn and ouuuuut. Stretching? Piece of cake!

Then the first pose: Mountain pose.  Okay, I thought, I can do that. It’s basically just standing. Oh yeah, I am so good at standing. I nailed it.

Feeling confident, the next day I decided to do some cat-rolling. After all, I was a mountain yesterday, how hard can this be? After much eye-rolling at the yoga DVD’s command to “tuck my tail” I felt something. No, not my back popping, but something else: Release. My mind was clear, my body, light. How strange, this new sensation. It felt, well, damn good. I breathed in and let the peace enter. I arched, I tucked.

And I kept at it, getting into a routine. Breathe deep, stretch and reach, let peace come.

After several months, I noticed that I was getting quite good at the poses which were so hard in the beginning. Look at me! I can do upward dog! And I’m not in agony! And hey, it actually feels good! My body is stretching, my spine is aligning or lengthening or whatever spines are supposed to do! I can do this!

After many months of practice, I noticed huge changes. I was calmer. My mind was quieter. I was more patient with my kids (even my husband). I slept more soundly. I ate healthier. I wasn’t constantly sick and run-down with a cold. I enjoyed the moment more. I felt good in my body. This klutzy old achy body had become something I could now admire and treasure.

What did yoga do for me? It changed my life.

When I first began, it wasn’t a big constant in my life, but I knew I enjoyed it. So I made sure to sneak the time in here and there. I continued to do yoga all through my pregnancy. Granted, I never tried any “you’ve got to be freaking kidding me” poses and I did them at my own slow pace. But I grew to love yoga. I even (gasp) started looking forward to doing yoga each day. It became a vital, relaxing and happy part of my day. This from someone who normally starts then ditches an exercise routine after a few months.

Today, I practice almost every single day for a half hour. I yell to the kids and the hubby, “it’s yoga time!” and I roll out my mat. It’s really “Me” time. It’s the time to center myself and feel the spirit inside my body at peace. Get into that groove.

I am constantly amazed at the poses I can do now that I never thought were possible. Just an inch or two here, reaching just ever so slightly more each time…eventually I get there. I keep trying and trying. Sometimes I feel myself wobble. I might even tip over and fall. I try again. Next time it might be easier. With this practice I notice that I am gentler with myself and much more forgiving.

My confidence level from doing difficult poses has soared and this has spilled over into all aspects of my life. I feel this strange calmness inside of me, that little voice that used to be so negative now whispers that I can do anything if I simply keep trying.

Who knows? Maybe one day I will be able to do the elusive crane pose (I tried it once and ended up face-planting) but for now I’m happy with up/down dog, triangle, plank, warrior, child’s pose…add a namaste and a bow and I’m good to go.

I read a quote somewhere that said after a few years of practicing yoga, one of two things can happen; either you’ll have given it up or your life will be changed.

Well, I haven’t given up yet.

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17 thoughts on “Yoga Love

    1. Thanks. Plank is very very hard! Really works those muscles you didn’t realize you had….Funny how I used to see people doing yoga and I’d think, “oh yeah, I could do that, easy” and then once I actually attempted the pose I’d feel like I was dying. I’ve reached the point now where I only feel like I’m AMOST dying so that’s progress, right?? 🙂

  1. Hmmm…maybe I should give it a try. I am still in the mentality you were in previously. But then again, regular exercise in general is hard for me to be disciplined to do. Still haven’t started training yet for my half marathon! Well, keep it up!

    1. Thank you, I hope I can keep it up for the rest of my life! I got into running last year because I wanted to do a half marathon. I got up to 3 miles every other day (very good for me, considering I had never run a day in my life before!) but my ankle tendonitis kept flaring up, making it impossible to continue. Another reason yoga is good, less stress on my joints. Good luck to you in whatever exercise you choose!

  2. Mary the OINKteller

    Great post! I just started doing yoga – it is much harder than I thought it would be. I still prefer the Les Mills Body Combat class for getting a whole body workout in, but you don’t get the stillness of mind from Body Combat that you do from Yoga. Thanks for stopping by OINKtales – we tri-state girls need to stick together!

    1. Thanks! Body Combat sounds interesting. I’ll have to check that out…hmm. I agree with you that yoga can give you that stillness. Something I desperately need most days when dealing with two very hyper kids suffering from cabin fever!

  3. I have been trying out a number of different workouts on my comcast ON Demand. My favorite is a Bollywood workout. I tried the yoga and was pleased I could do some of it. Thanks for letting the rest of us know it is a possiblity.

  4. I started yoga at the YMCA last spring and am still at it. I always feel fantastic right after class. I need to start getting into a routine of doing it at home, like you do. I agree; it is fabulous for your body and your soul. I always enjoy your posts.

  5. Hi!

    I always thought yoga required flexibility. But you kinda make it sound easy…. Plus im beginning to think it will do my mental health some good 🙂 encouraging post!

  6. I have wanted to get into Yoga for a couple years, but don’t even know where to start. Seems all the classes are at weird times or too advanced… and I don’t know where to start with a DVD… any suggestions? I think I would need to do a DVD or something as I am more visual and a book wouldn’t cut it.

    Kudos to you for sticking with it
    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

    1. Thanks for your comments! When I first started out years ago, it was a DVD from this series, can’t quite remember which one. http://www.gaiam.com/category/media-library/yoga-dvds/yoga-for-beginners.do
      I also had a prenatal and pregnancy yoga DVD for awhile. I started out very slow and gentle and really took my time to learn the poses (still learning them!)
      Now I also DVR this series on Discovery Health channel: Namaste Yoga
      http://www.ovguide.com/tv/namaste_yoga.htm
      It’s a bit more fast-paced, really requires strength but gets your heart pumping. The poses aren’t held very long so it’s more of a constant flow through the poses and it really makes you concentrate on your breath–very important.

  7. Priya

    I came here through the random post reading option, Darla, and I am thanking WordPress already. It is an inspiring post for someone like me who practiced yoga when it wasn’t required much (as a child) and wriggle out of when I desperately need it (now).

    Like anything good, ayurveda and yoga make you “either … (give) it up or your life will be changed.”

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed my post, Priya! Yoga is such a habit for me now, I can’t imagine even going a few days without doing at least a few poses. If I don’t keep up with it, my body and mind suffer for sure. That is great you practiced as a child! I try to get my kids involved. My youngest copies me as I do poses and she’s getting quite good at it already. I hope it’s something they try more when they’re older.

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