In my early 20's I started doing yoga. I kept it up for a few years off and on but I never really got into it.
I have attention issues which made the longer classes difficult for me, and as a Christian wasn't really into some of the more traditional yoga classes that put so much emphasis on self-worship.
Mid 20's and I was at University of Arizona, when I be-friended this amazing yoga instructor, Alexis.
She had the body of a 1950's pinup and these amazing biceps and delts.
I noticed that she always seemed very present. She was an active listener who was slow to respond in conversation like she was really thinking about what she was going to say.
She had a calming presence and never appeared rushed or impulsive, like she was in full control of herself.
To me, she was the definition of a strong and confident woman.
Her yoga class forever changed my thoughts on yoga.
Alexis played reggae and pop music and spent 60-90 minutes helping us students to push ourselves mentally and physically.
Whether we were holding a simple pose for a long time and training our brains not to focus on "what's next??!!!" or we were trying a new pose that pushed the limits of our flexibility and balance, she was always encouraging us to push past our comfort zones and appreciate the many things of which our bodies are capable.
The class emphasized being present and in control of our bodies and I thought it was just the neatest and most practical message.
I left Arizona moved home to Boston and continued doing various forms of "power yoga" for years but eventually quit when I had little money and no time and never really found another "Alexis."
I would occasionally attend free exercise classes that incorporated yoga poses like "planks", "child's pose" and "cat cows" and think, "Geez, this feels good. My body needs more of this!." But then I would forget about...
When I injured my shoulder back in October of this year, my doctor, chiro, and massage therapist all told me I need to fix my posture to better protect my shoulder and most of their recommended rehab exercises were yoga positions or derived from yoga poses.
So I decided to start moving again on my yoga mat, but this time I didn't have an instructor, I didn't have 60 minutes and I sure as heck didn't have the quiet that comes with a yoga class.
No, this time I had three raucous boys under 5, toys all over the living room floor and maybe 5 minutes to practice, if I'm lucky.
But I also had my 35 years of world experience and enough confidence in exercise to say to myself, "you can do whatever you want on your yoga mat to feel strong and present in your body today."
So I began to pick 5 poses every other day or so, and I did them in whatever order felt right and I'll tell you what it does for me.
1. It helps me to stop in the middle of my busy (often chaotic) day and check in with my physical being. What hurts? What's tight? Am I slouching? And I holding my tummy in? Am I breathing?
2. It improves my posture, something that is absolutely necessary for mommas of little kids and anyone that sits at a desk, sits in a car, or uses technology. I always choose poses that help me to have a neutral spine, and open chest, and more or less, a tense-free neck.
3. It helps me to calm my brain and be present in the moment I just focus on moving my body for 5 minutes.
The older I get, the more I notice that time flies by so fast and sometimes the multitude of tasks I have to complete in a day takes my mind off of enjoying the moment, being thankful to God for my health, my family, my food and shelter, my friends, and all the beauty in the world.
It also helps others to learn a little patience. If anyone needs a drink of water, a book, a new diaper, or me to find something for them, they can wait 5 minutes while while mumma takes care of herself, so that she can be a better mum to them.
So if any of this appeals to you and you would like to begin to practice time efficient, introductory-level yoga at your own pace in your own space, then sign up below for my Yoga for folks that don't do yoga program starting on March 30th!