Friday, December 08, 2017

The Practice of Yoga

Yoga is the first physical activity that felt right for my body (well, maybe the second). I was never good at any sports whatsoever, I hate to run, I didn't start exercising regularly until I was in my 30's, and I'm a horrible dancer. The only reason I can think I wasn't the last kid picked for teams in elementary school, is that I might have been prettier than some of the other un-athletic girls.

When I stepped into my first yoga class in 1997, I was surprised to find it was much more difficult than I thought, in an exertion type of way. If I really exerted myself (which I tend to do, because I like to do things well and right), I found the poses could be very challenging especially when held for longer periods.

My first teacher, Pam, is the gold standard I have held all my subsequent teachers to. Her style of teaching is very precise, and she is explicit about the placement of all body parts and the pattern of the breath. This was an excellent introduction and foundation, and when I did branch out to other teachers at other studios and retreats, I felt comfortable that I was taught the fundamentals and was able to participate without feeling out of my league.

One of Pam's tenets I heard many times was how important daily practice is outside of class. She even had a habit of going around the room and having each student report how many times they practiced that week. For 16 years, I would say, "O" "1" or maybe an occasional "2" and wonder when this daily practice thing was going to affect me.

Then along came 2013. I was having a really hard time accomplishing the workload I was given as a 4th year school social worker. Not to mention the emotional toll a new coordinator had on me. I lost 19 pounds in 3 months time. I was commuting an hour to work each way and felt I had to be at work by 7:00 a.m. in order to keep on top of my new schedule. That meant I was getting up before 5:00 a.m. five days a week. I decided early that year that I would get up early enough to start about a 15 minute yoga practice each morning to help me cope with stress. I credit this routine with getting me through that year without walking off the job. Yoga practice allows for brief rest periods, and this is a lovely concept when applied to life. They really do help mitigate life's stresses.

Then along came 2016. I was keeping up my daily practice because I found it was good for my mind, body and soul. Thank goodness because Adam's death was an overwhelming blow, and I needed anything I could anchor to to get through those first anguishing months.

So here it is almost 2018, and I have found a yoga class and my daily practice that help keep me sane, flexible and grounded. It has truly become an important force in my life.

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