Saturday, November 19, 2011

what I’m thankful for... part 4


“When I am anxious, it is because I am living in the future.
When I am depressed, it is because I am living in the past.
When I am peaceful, it is because I am living in the present.”

Yoga is about living in the present... occupying your body, stretching beyond what you thought were your limits, and erasing all stress for a short period of time. Yoga has the ability to ward off injuries from other more strenuous workouts, and give you the strength necessary to push your body even further.

I have not always believed this. For years I was a yoga skeptic. I went to a chiropractor, my GP, a psychologist, a massage therapist. Every one of them (with the exception of my GP, who gave me a prescription for anti-anxiety meds) recommended yoga to me as a way to strengthen the muscles that hold up my head and reduce the anxiety I was experiencing. I was running four days a week and lifting weights every other day. My neck and shoulders hurt more and more with each workout. Some days my neck hurt so badly that the pain made me sick to my stomach and dizzy. I was convinced that I must have some major nerve issue going on. The more it hurt, the more tense I became, which in turn created tighter muscles and more anxiety.

In hopes of breaking the vicious cycle, I heeded the advice of many and joined a yoga class. People were standing in the tree pose for several minutes. Just standing there on one leg! “You are a strong tree, gently swaying in the wind,” the instructor spoke quietly. I carefully placed my right leg onto my left. My right foot slipped right off my left leg and landed back on the floor. I was not just swaying, I was a fallen tree.

It all began to change the day I met an amazing instructor, Jim Gillen. Jim has an approach to yoga that I had never experienced before. He jokes during class, his voice and manner calm me. He corrects poses. After several months of classes with him, I realized that with his corrections, and a steady, focused gaze, I too was becoming a stable tree. I swayed slightly, but didn’t topple over.

I have been doing yoga regularly for the last year. I love it, crave it, it’s limbering me up and strengthening my body more than any other exercise ever has. Muscles made sore from running and weight lifting are stretched and soothed in yoga. My core strength, balance and anxiety have improved immensely.

According to a study done by The Wall Street Journal, yoga does not have mental effects. I am convinced that their study was not conducted for long enough to reveal those mental benefits. If something healthy can reduce my anxiety levels, I’m sticking with it.

Being fit is not a destination, it’s a way of life.

This is my new favorite pose.

and then there’s the cute clothes factor...

No more baggy Guatemalan prints from the 70’s are seen in yoga classes today. Yoga clothes have become so cute you’ll wanna wear them all the time. Since discovering Lucy (we have several stores nearby), I could be perfectly content living in workout wear. The compression of their pants gives the feeling of weightlessness. When I put their clothes on, I feel as fit as an olympic athlete. Throw on one of their awesome jackets, and voilá! They had a sale last Saturday, a birthday celebration with 25% everything in the store. I stocked up on a few necessities.



happygirl said...

I wish I could do yoga better. I'm too fat. I need yoga for chubby girls. :)

Cindy said...

Hi HappyGirl, You can do it! Splurge on some yoga clothes with compression. They make all the difference!

Anonymous said...

The core abdominal exercise machine include abs trainers, abs ball, abs slings, crunch benches, crunch machines etc. These machines are better than simple abs exercise because they help to contract abs muscles a lot more, isolate them and function best on them to develop them.

Cindy said...

Suzie, you cannot compare yoga (a workout for body and mind) to some stupid machines. Please refrain from trying to advertise your crap on my ad-free blog!!

jazgal said...

Yoga has made all the difference for me = going on two years now, I am so grateful for having this grounding, gently strengthening activity. I have so many chronic muscle issues that have only responded to the development of the core structure. (I had tried the machines at the gym, but they never engaged my brain in the same way - and they were boring to use!) Plus, I love the cute outfits - although they tend to be a bit pricey. :) But really, I would have had a nervous breakdown from all the stress of the last few years if it hadn't been for my yoga practice.