Focused Living, One Month at a Time

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Challenge #20 February 2013 – Yearning for Yoga

Yes, I can do this pose.
I will focus on practicing yoga this month.

Exercises are like prose, whereas yoga is the poetry of movements. Once you understand the grammar of yoga; you can write your poetry of movements.”   
-Amit Ray


I just didn’t get it, didn’t have any clue what all the fuss was about.  And why did it seem like anyone I talked to who was a consistent practitioner seem to glow from inside when they described what yoga was like - know what I mean?  But now I get it!  I really do, and it is indeed powerful and exactly what I needed without knowing it, and I have seen positive results in just this brief time of practicing.   So, when are you trying it?


Full disclosure:  I had been meaning to, but procrastinated, this challenge for five months now (sighs).  There was just something that fairly athletic me was afraid of - trying to get all bendy (which was what I thought it was only about at first) and being open to not being able to do it well right away was more than a bit of a challenge for me.  
I had tried yoga briefly here and there over the years, at one-off classes and on a rafting trip about a year ago, but it just didn’t stick. I really had no idea what I was doing, and felt like this was gonna be hard, when it is so much easier to stick to simple activities I knew how to do like running, biking, and swimming – where it is basically a matter of cardio and strength training (with a lifetime of familiarity attached).  It really was scary for me to think about going to a yoga class in public, with my stiff-as-a-lead-pipe hamstrings, and insecurities about falling or farting or who knows what else could go wrong in front of other people - yikes!

How it went

So of course I procrastinated getting started with a halfway decent excuse, I was traveling the first week, and all I did then was read an issue of Yoga Journal, (bonus:  great healthy recipes in there!) which got me even a bit more anxious – have you seen those ads with the naked lady with the impossibly perfect body is posed in some impossibly flexible position, selling toe socks or something…I will never look like that!  Or be able to do that!  Why bother to start?  (several sighs).

But I pressed on.  Easing into it within the comfort and security of my own home with a few yoga videos to start.  First some on YouTube, there are plenty of them out there.  Then I tried DVDs:  Yoga for Surfers, Yoga for Dummies, and one by Jillian Michaels called Yoga Meltdown which is still sitting there unplayed…The videos were okay, but NOT what I needed – I truly had no idea if I was doing these poses correctly, even when I could see the instructor from whatever position I was trying to figure out.

The Amazing Suzy at Yoga Loft!
Got what I needed

After a week or so of this going it alone, I gathered my courage and made it to the studio.  Just down the street from my house overlooking the ocean, Suzy at Yoga Loft welcomed me to my first vinyasa class with her generous spirit and EXACTLY the right style for me to finally start embracing this for realz.  The studio overlooks the ocean so we see and hear its power as we practice, which are personally very meaningful to me.   Practicing with someone to guide me and make direct verbal and touching corrections and adjustments, and sharing the live company of other really nice people who are also learning – THAT is what got me hooked, and made me understand why this was the best way to make this journey. 

And remember when I tried to meditate, and I couldn’t sit still long enough to get into it?  I started to realize that learning yoga was a better path for me to pursue because although they are definitely related, yoga is more movement related, and the various poses are more interesting to me than just sitting in the same position for several minutes, trying to will my attention away from distractions.  With yoga, it has been like learning a new language, for my mind, body, and soul all at the same time (not to mention the actual Sanskrit), which takes much more concentration and is helping me practice discipline and focus as I have wanted to this year – there is just no room for thinking about anything else when I am fully concentrating on triangle, or half moon, or tree pose, and I like that.

No, I can't do this one.
Beyond the practice

I know it will take a while to get much better at all the poses and to grow my own confidence level, but one of the best things to also come out of this challenge was the focus on deep breathing.  Since I started, I have been able to take yoga “off the mat” by simply focusing on my breathing for a few minutes when I am stressed or frustrated or needing to relax or refresh my outlook on whatever I am doing at the moment – it works.  And, I definitely feel like I am more conscious of my posture in a good way, another bonus. 

In conclusion
I laughed (trying to get into plow = ungraceful), I cried (a few tears at the end of a session = emotional relief), and I think I even got a bit bendier in the few weeks I have seriously practiced so far.  And although I still feel like I am doing chatuWRONGga rather than chaturanga, yoga is a practice I am extremely grateful to have found, and serious about pursuing regularly.  So, have you tried it yet?  What have you learned?  Namaste.  

1 comment:

  1. Yes! You describe this journey so well...I love that you discovered the bliss that comes from yoga and I can relate to every step and pose you took in the last month. Imagine this joy magnified....that is what is next for you! Wonderful writing and insight. Namaste, my dear friend.