The first twenty years of my adult careerhood (is that a word?) was strictly fitness. I worked at big, hard core, hard body health clubs as well as more family friendly YMCAs. I taught lots of aerobics classes, lifted lots of weights, and corrected lots of people's forms during their exercise. Then....
I took a yoga class.
At first it made me mad. I know, how weird is that???? I had already lifted weights for two hours and taught an aerobics class that morning. I saw the yoga instructor walk in as I was packing up my music. I thought 'Oh yeah! Yoga! I keep forgetting about yoga. I probably should stay and do it. After all that working out I just did, I probably really could use a nice, easy, little stretch class.' - Yeah, Right!!!!!!
My muscles started quivering. My body started sweating and I started to get muscle cramps. THAT made me mad. I had no idea that there was actual physical work involved in yoga. Who knew???
Well, I realized that I wasn't as strong, balanced, and flexible as I thought I was and decided that I probably should continue the yoga. I didn't. I was busy. Ya know, right?
Well, let me rewind a minute. My mother didn't breast feed me as a baby. You didn't know I was gonna rewind back that far did ya? :) Well, she didn't! You don't know what kind of damage that does! I could have been a model if my mother hadn't stunted my growth!! I know, I know. But, that's what I going with, anyway. So, anyway, I nursed my son when he was a baby. It was the most relaxing thing ever once you get past the first month when you feel like nothing more than a cow. I told my mother how relaxing it was and she said it was because I was sitting down and stopping. Nope. That wasn't it. It was the nursing. If I had known she was wrong, I'd still be nursing that teenaged young man today!! Hey, don't judge me! :)
So, when I stopped nursing, I sat down with my sweet baby and waited for the relaxation to kick in....waiting....waiting....Hey!!! There's no relaxation here! I was robbed!!!!
When he was about two, I took a yoga certification for some continuing education credits for my group fitness certification. At the end, we lay in savasana for about ten minutes with some guided meditation. I sat up from that and went "Oh yeah, baby!! There's the relaxation I've been missing all this time!" I've been hooked ever since.
Okay, fast forward back to now. So, I've been teaching yoga for about ten years now. I love it. I'll tell you why. It helps with flexibility. When I'm practicing yoga, I don't need as many chiropractic adjustments. There's that whole relaxation thing I just told you about. It builds strength, not big, bulky muscles, but actual strength you can use in your everyday life. It also adds nice definition to your muscles. Bonus!!!!!! It helps you to be more mindful of your body. That's important for several reasons: 1 - it helps you to avoid injuries and 2 - it helps you know what your body needs nutritionally, thereby preventing illness. Yoga is also a wonderful stress reliever. Did I mention that its very relaxing???? Well....The actual DOING of the yoga is not relaxing. But, the golden reward of savasana at the end is truly heaven.
Okay, now that I brought up heaven, I have to bring up something else about yoga. I heard on the radio today about a minister who wants his parishoners to stop doing yoga because its anti-Christian. That is one ignorant minister. So, I wanted to say this, lest this happens in your church. There are some eastern religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc that yoga is an integral part of their religion. Yoga itself, and by itself, however, is not a religious act, depending on how you use it. Here in the United States, where it's taught in mainstream gyms all over, its just the asana practice that we do. There are some forms of yoga where you only chant or meditate. Here, however, its mostly just the physical part that we do and it can actually ENHANCE whatever religion you practice, even Christianity. You're supposed to be quiet and meditate to know God, anyway. How many people really practice that? How many people even know how to quiet their mind, if they even know what that means, exactly? Yoga can help you do that. The picture at the top of this article is the Sun Salutation. That's a wonderful place to start if you're learning on your own. I reccomend that you find a yoga instructor and take a class. If you're a beginner, look for beginner classes. If you want a real treat, go to a bigger city and take a class at a real yoga studio and not a gym. I will warn you that you may find chanting at a yoga studio. But, you get the whole "zen", relaxing, experience. And I promise, they will not try to convert you from Christianity. In fact, you might find that the majority of instructors are Christian as well.
Do your mind and body some good and try yoga! You'll love what it does for you. - Namaste!!! :)