Yoga-cising

I’m a runner. But I also do yoga. In fact, PrayerPoseMom is a direct reference to a yoga pose.  It also says something about how important prayer is in my life, but that’s another day…

For those of you out there that think yoga is all about chanting “ohm” and being all green-tea, bendy, new-age-ish, macrobiotic Gwyneth Paltrow wannabees, let me just say… I understand. My mom did some yoga with neighbors back in the 70’s and that’s what it seemed like to me. Women sitting in our living room with Carol Brady shags and coffee breath saying “ohm” so many times that I’m sure it tainted my view of it a bit.  So I started practicing yoga with more than a little skepticism.

But as I stated earlier, I run.   Now.   But back in the way back days of yore, I used to be a springy little twig of a cheerleader kind of girl. The kind always out in my yard practicing cartwheels, round-offs, and a layout here and there. Or doing flips off the diving board.

But then, as it always does, life happens. College, jobs, marriage, household chores, and babies happen. And your young, lithesome, bendy body disappears. And at some point you look at yourself in the mirror and say, “what on earth happened to me?”

After three little watermelon-sized creatures emerged from my body, and a move to flyover country, I began to exercise.  With all the Tae-Bo and running I was doing, I found I wasn’t very stretchy anymore.  I quickly learned that I’d lost that lovin’ limber feeling.

Then one day I saw Gwyneth on some show talking about how yoga had helped her stay in shape.  This was before Apple and Moses came along and her enviable figure got so very, very out of whack.  As if.  So, “Self,”  I said, “why don’t you look into yoga?”  And look I did.

I finally found the Bryan Kest Power Yoga series.  On VHS.  That’s how long ago I began doing yoga.   I remember the first time I tried it.   I thought. I was going. to DIE.

You know that sore muscle feeling you get when you haven’t exercised certain muscles in oh, twenty years?  Amp that by a million.  And beyond that, I couldn’t get my knees off the floor in upward dog, much less do the vinyasa (flow from pose to pose) from plank pose to upward dog.  My arms were just too wimpy.  But I kept at it.

And then I discovered Inhale on the Oxygen channel.  Taught by Steve Ross – not to be confused with the “happy little tree” painting Bob Ross – yoga becomes fun.  He plays

Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and other not-so-sitar, whiny sounding background music.  He laughs, he makes jokes, he sings.  Yoga isn’t so…  organic and new age-ish.  It’s just healthy.

In fact, that was one of the things that kind of puts me off about yoga – the new age-y stuff.  In most of the yoga dvd’s I’ve done, or any of the classes I’ve taken, there is always some kind of mumbo jumbo about chi (which is the flow of life energy), or our own personal life energy – prana – and as a Christian, that kind of stuff tends to hinder me from the full yoga practice in the truest sense.  But I just kind of use the valuable portion (to me) of yoga, and mentally discard the useless (to me) part of it.

Because I do yoga, I find it easier to relax.  I have increased flexibility and improved performance in other exercises.  I have a “centered-ness” during any physical activity that comes from paying attention to my breathing and posture.   And I have balance (both literally and figuratively) that comes from doing yoga these past several years.   In fact, I once was gifted by my cousin with a massage, and the masseuse remarked that I was uncharacteristically non-tight.  When I told her that I did yoga, she said that if everyone did yoga, she’d be out of a job.

While I can’t say that for sure, I do know that I love yoga.  After I’m done, I always feel like I’ve had a massage.  I’m loose (in a good sense!) and I just feel so doggone ready for whatever comes next.

And oh yeah, I can once again do this:

Not bad for a 47 year old….

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