Finding Balance

31 Aug

Yoga is one of a handful of hobbies I have.  I’ve been practicing yoga now for several years.  Before I started practicing it, I had a preconceived notion that it was for the lazy, not a “real” workout, and was, for lack of a better word: lame.  The first time I went to an actual class, I was moved; and my life changed.

I had been going to a pilates class biweekly, so my impression of myself was that I was strong, fit, and in shape!  I attended a regular run of the mill yoga class, and I did find it challenging.  I realized I was not as flexible as I thought I was.  My balance was a mess!  I started to do some research, because that’s what I do whenever I get “into” something.  I found a yoga studio that practiced “Baptiste” yoga, which is a particular style focused on transformation.  The room is heated to a balmy 95 degrees.  Initially, I was not sure I’d be able to take the heat and I really didn’t know what to expect, but quickly found the heat enables you to get more out of your practice.  It allows your muscles to melt into new positions, places they have never been before.  I drink plenty of water beginning an hour before class and I make sure to eat a lot of protein at the same time, and not within an hour of practice.  (I’ve heard stories of people having to walk out to puke because they either ate too much too close to class or they did not drink enough.)

What I really like about the studio is the narration throughout the class.  The instructor talks about a given idea, and for me, it is helpful to keep my mind from wandering off track.  The instructors are also “hands on,” which means they will come by and gently place hands on you, in order to discretely correct your position, or even challenge you to find your edge.  There is no competition in yoga, another benefit.  You do as much or as little as your body needs in that moment.  No one is worried about what anyone else is doing on their mat.  They are each focused on their own breath and connecting that breath with movement or stillness in a particular pose.  At the studio where I practice, it does get crowded, but hearing everyone’s breath in unison creates an indescribably positive atmosphere.  We are all breathing in one another’s positive energy.  We also chant, which I find empowering as well.  There is nothing like hearing the vibration of your own voice flowing from your body and all the while, feeling the vibration coming from others.

September is National Yoga Month.  I went to class this morning.  I like to meditate beforehand.  While I’m in child’s pose, lying on my mat (before class), I center myself and set my intention.  This also helps me to maintain my focus.  Today the theme, if you will, was balance.  Within that balance, it was effort and ease.  On my mat, I discovered today that sometimes I get caught up in the effort.  What I learned was that if I invite more ease, it just happens.  Lately, I have been feeling stress creep its way in at an unhealthy level at times.  I am learning that I need to just let things be.  Yoga for me is a spiritual time for connection.  I get to be away from my husband and children, and experience something for myself; a rarity in my busy life.  It is a way for me to center myself in preparation for the week ahead of me.  Not only is yoga transforming my physical body (I just had a baby 12 weeks ago), but it’s transforming my mind as well.  If you’ve never tried a class, give it a whirl!  It will change your life.

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