Friday, January 20, 2012

Yoga--and me

Ten or more years ago a friend and I took a yoga class at TCU. Maybe 10-15 people in a big, bare room with one mirrored wall. I think it was the mirrors that did me in--even ten years ago I saw that when I leaned over, some things--like my face--didn't stay in place but sagged. Demoralizing. And I didn't particularly like anything about the class, could never stand the relaxation at the end. So I quit, and when all about me were raving about yoga, I resisted. It wasn't for me. I walked for exercise.
Several things happened to change that: both my daughter-in-law Melanie and my good friend Elizabeth began to study yoga and today they are both certified instructors. And I realized that I was no longer sure-footed and didn't have the self-confidence for my daily walk that I once had. It took a while but one day I announced to Elizabeth that I was ready for lessons. She, bless her, didn't gloat, just set up a businesslike arrangement for lessons at my home. I had to convince her I didn't want candles or mood music with the lesson, but gradually I mastered some poses and semi-learned the relaxation/meditaton at the end--the first time I tried that, Elizabeth said indignantly, "You're reading the titles in the bookcase, aren't you?" Relaxation has never been easy for me, but I got to where I did a half-hour workout and began alternating--yoga one day, indoor recumbent bike the next.
I was pretty faithful until I got Sophie last July, then a twelve-week old energetic Bordoodle (half Border Collie, half poodle) pup. Taking care of her wore me out and gave me plenty of exercise. I quit doing anything else. And once you quit, it's hard to return. I did some yoga sporadically but my muscles soon lost the pattern and my conscience kept nagging at me.
Like many people I made some 2012 resolutions, a return to yoga among them. I find I approach it far differently now--for one thing, since retiring two years ago, I am a much more relaxed person and the relaxation part is easier for me--it always turns into prayer (eyes closed, no reading titles) but I do a survey of my muscles, relaxing them body part by body part, and I try to clear my mind of anxiety, negative thoughts and the like. I am also much more focused on my breathing, so that I approach yoga poses with more concentration than I did before I see all this as part of real growth--physical improvement yes, but emotional or spiritual growth.
And my two role models? They're both so busy teaching--and Melanie has an  unrelated day job--that they complain they don't have time for their workouts!
My resolutions also included watching my weight go down, not up. I have a friend who says he lost 17 lbs. by portion control and omitting bread. That's what I'm trying, and I've lost two lbs. I figure slow and steady does it.

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