|(Photo by Terry Doyle)|
From the time I squeeze myself into the yoga pants that I would never wear outside the yoga studio, through my awkward Adho Muka Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog) and tippy Vrikasana (Tree Pose), yoga makes me smile, even outright giggle at times. It also makes me sweat, stretch, and relieves my stress.
Many experts claim yoga increases core strength and balance, both important as we grow older. And flexibility exercises are touted as “ideal” for women. I know my clothes fit better since my year in yoga practice, and I can slip on a pair of fancy heels without having to sit on the edge of my bed to do it. Tighter tummy and balance improvement from Bandhasana (Bridge Pose) and Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasana (High Plank Pose) while listening to violin music in a 75degree room is fun.
I haven’t left the snowy northeast so the yoga studio provides a weather escape several times a week. It’s warm, the music is relaxing and people speak kindly there. Class begins in Sukhasana (Easy Pose) and the instructor talks of coming to my mat and leaving the outside world. She reminds me to focus on myself and to set my personal intention each day. My yoga practice then has meaning specifically for me. I find that my intentions are often the same: 1) I want to be kinder to myself and to other people, so I focus on letting go of judgments and trying to just love myself and other people. 2) I forget to be thankful for many things in my life, so I set my intention to be mindful of that, during practice and throughout my week. Then I reach and stretch and lift and twist and bend, responding the best I can to the directions given. It feels good to move a bit more smoothly and with more grace and power every session.
To be fair, it is humbling when some women are wrapping their hands around their ankles in Uttanassana (Standing Forward Bend) when I’m pushing to reach my shins. And the day I fell out of Garudasana (Eagle Pose) and knocked over the 19 year old next to me was a little embarrassing. But I retreat to my mat and settle into Balasana (Child’s Pose) eyes closed, smiling to myself because I’m wearing bright blue yoga pants today, and that in itself is fun.
(Thanks to Dawn for sharing her enthusiasm about yoga. )