very convenient yoga establishment moved in right up the street from me, I decided to give it a try. Right off the bat, the very first week, I managed to seize up a glute muscle. If anything, this shows how desperately out-of-shape I am. But I am not deterred. I think God put that yoga place there just for me.
So the first thing my sister wanted to know was whether I was planning to join a monastery next. No. But, let me think .... okay, no.
People of the Christian "variety" sometimes have trouble with things like yoga. It is, after all, a constituent of a pagan belief system. That said, it is also very good for the body. Is it possible to separate the spiritual side of yoga from its physical side? I'm counting on it. Some yoga places may put more of an emphasis on the spiritual element, but the place up the street from me does not. Oh, they have their little moment of "dedication" and the traditional "Namaste" at the end, but those are perfect opportunities to connect with the God of my Salvation, so they don't bother me one bit. This place, in fact, has a candlelight yoga session on the last Sunday of each month with "guided meditation," but I'm betting the guidance will go in a different direction from where my meditation ought to be, so I will politely decline that session, and guide myself to church instead.
So, I went out and bought my first exercise clothes ever so as not to stand out like a complete beginner. That was counter-productive, since I appeared to be the only one in new exercise clothes. But I was pleased to discover that I am not the most out-of-shape person on the planet. There are others, and they attend the same classes I do. When I told the physical therapist I've been working with (to help relieve my neck pain by building and strengthening my muscles) how I got my little "injury", she recommended that I park myself beside the fat guy rather than the class pretzel. Keeping the bar low in the beginning will ensure that I live to attend another class. I am no longer sixteen, even though my brain thinks I am.
So far, I've been pretty diligent to attend at least three sessions a week in two varieties, "Good & Flexible," with lots of down-dogs, cats and cows, twisting and stretching; and "Good & Balanced." The "balanced" class is heated, so I have the additional benefit of sweat detoxification, and it has things like warrior stance and one-legged standing poses...to improve balance, of course. I'm avoiding the "flow" class until I can manage to not fall over while assuming a given pose. I always feel good when I finish...very much like getting a deep-tissue massage.
Though I have a long LONG way to go, this is something I think I can stick with. Mark and I still have a membership at the Community Center where we can "work out" (translation: walk on a treadmill for 15 minutes and then sit in the hot tub), but for some reason, we never seem to get over there. "You should swim," my eighty-seven year old dad tells me. "It's great exercise." Yeah, but that means I have to actually go over to where the pool is. I don't have one in my back yard. I think the biggest problem is, I don't like going by myself, and Mr. Potato and I have such different schedules, it's rarely convenient to go together.
Yoga, on the other hand, is a unique kind of group activity, perfect for introverts such as myself. There are people there, so you're not alone, but everyone stays on their own little mat (personal bubble) and, unless you came with a friend, you can be fairly certain no one will attempt to start up a tiring and distracting conversation. Peaceful music plays, you do your stretching and contorting, rest awhile, roll up your mat and go home, rested and energized. Beautiful!
This is also a fabulous exercise option for older folks, not that that describes me by any means. It's low-impact, stretches those underused muscles that get tight over the years, and develops core strength, which is important for balance so that we don't find ourselves in the "I've fallen and I can't get up" scenario. But, as with any new exercise program, it's important to listen to your body and don't overdo. Park your mat by the fat guy the first few weeks and take it slow and easy. Remember, it's about getting and staying healthy.
Yeah for Yoga! Namaste.
Photo credit: Thank you A.E. Kurek @, etsy.com