Monday, December 10, 2007

A Practice for Life

I heard the calm voice of Leyla, my yoga instructor, say “Yoga means the union of mind and body.” She’s probably said that dozens of times as I have attended her level 1 class for at least 5 years. But I always stop to think about how that works.

As I was interviewed by a reporter for the Hill Rag today who was writing about “how yoga has changed your life,” I remembered that first class I attended at the suggestion of one of my employees. I remembered watching the clock tick away those 90 minutes and realizing how many poses I struggled with. And this was only level 1!

At that point I had constant pain in my hips and my work ID pic portrayed the face of a person who was missing out on a lot of life. It was just about the time of that first yoga class that things began slowly to change.

I had devoted the previous 20 or so years to raising children while trying to work and take care of a house and a yard and pets and aging parents. My own physical condition just never seemed to be a priority. Besides I hated exercise of all sorts.

I’m not sure why I went back to the second yoga class, but I did. And it became a weekly habit, sometimes even twice a week. I slowly weaned myself from using blocks to support me while doing down dog and lunges and learned to hold the poses as long as everyone else did (most of the time). I found stomach muscles and strength in my legs that I never knew I had. But I never had that drive to move on up to more complicated poses. Level 1 was just right for me.

That initial yoga class led me to a massage therapist, a meditation group, a personal trainer, an acupuncturist, an osteopath, a psychotherapist, a return to piano, this Blog, and countless new friends. I had a lot to say to that reporter about how yoga has changed my life.

My next challenge is to decide which yoga pose to be photographed in. I jokingly suggested shivasana, but maybe I should pick a pose that makes me look ALIVE, not "corpse pose"! Anyway, we’ll all be able to see what that reporter chooses to say about me and 5 other people in the January issue of the Hill Rag.


Blogger Water Baby said...

A&M provides a yoga coarse as our PE elective, so Red, my roommate, and I are taking it next semester because it seems like it should help us a lot, we have both struggled in our first semester in college and the mental calm that yoga is supposed to bring about seems perfect for us to learn!

4:59 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

WB -- I wish I had discovered yoga at your age. It really does help you in so many ways. The asanas, or poses, are supposed to be the "warm up" for meditation.

Good luck in your yoga practice! And give your Dad a big hug for me when you see him.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Excellent that you'll be featured in the Rag! Very cool!!

8:52 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- It's interesting that the Hill is just my adopted neighborhood!

8:57 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'll have to pick up a copy! Very nice. I might have to try yoga, too. I've hesitated with worry about my knees but you're doing it with your hips. Maybe.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- You should try my class sometime. 6:30 p.m. Monday. She knows exactly what to do for people with knee issues.

10:35 AM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

Ooh!! Shivasana was always my favorite too.

How about tree pose? With those long, lithe limbs of yours that would be a PERFECT photo!

4:43 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Learning to balance life is hard. What is worse is that we are not taught to do it. Mostly we are taught to work, work, work and to blow off steam and ensure we are like everyone else, but never to balance.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Ulysses said...

Maybe shivasana as a commentary on how you let your old conceptions of your limitations die.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gewels -- Yes, I thought of tree because I'm usually pretty good at it. I also thought of warrior 1. I'm sure I'll come up with something!

Richard -- It's only when we fall out of balance that we realize how important balance is.

Ulysses -- Unfortunately I don't think I will get a chance to add explanatory notes to the picture and most people are not going to see it symbolically, so I'd better pick a pose that makes me look a little more with it I think.

10:09 PM  

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