After thinking about it for a couple of decades, last year I decided to take a yoga class. Unfortunately, I bravely walked into that class 30 minutes late. I can laugh about it now, but that day I was mortified. As I walked across the classroom, I really wanted to say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I was looking for the donut shop?” They might have believed that I was looking for donuts rather than a workout, except I was carrying a brand new yoga mat in my hands. Determined not to be a complete idiot, the next week I arrived to class 30 minutes early.
Thus began my yoga journey which inspired a blog post called Conquering Mind Over Matter on a Yoga Mat. In it, I wrote how Donna Ornter, owner of Balance Yoga Studio, told me during a private lesson that I had a pretty Warrior II. We even took a photo of my “pretty” pose. Goodness — I was practically standing straight up, which isn’t the intent of the pose. A couple of weeks ago, as we were recreating the photo, I scolded her for calling my Warrior II pretty back then.
“Well, it was pretty,” she laughed. “And it was the best that you could do at the time.”
If for no other reason, that is why you should find a yoga class rather than buying a yoga DVD. A teacher will encourage and inspire you. A DVD will only frustrate you and reinforce all the little doubts in your mind. Thoughts like you can’t do yoga. Or that it’s hard. Or that it’s a waste of time. Or. Or. Or. Believe me, yoga is for EVERY body and EVERY mind. If I can do it, so can you.
A year later, my Warrior II has improved. It still has a long way to go, and I constantly struggle with the poses and with balance. But yoga is a journey, not a race. More than I ever expected, I’ve gotten stronger and I’ve gained a lot more flexibility.
Last fall, I found my way into another yoga classroom and began working with Marcy Snodgrass, owner of 3 Hearts Yoga. After attending one of her hot yoga classes, I wrote the blog post, Thoughts I Can’t Swat Away. I’ve discovered that Marcy’s studio is the perfect place for me to challenge my determination and my yoga resolve. My subconscious has gotten as much of a workout as my quads. I’ve shed a lot of emotional baggage as well as sweat in her heated studio.
In November, Marcy invited her students to do a 90-day pose challenge. We were to work on any pose that was giving us difficulty. She promised that after 90 days of focus and intent, our ability to do the pose would improve. I couldn’t decide which I wanted to work on because all of the poses are uniquely challenging. I finally selected Forehead to Knee pose, as it would demonstrate increased flexibility. When the challenge began, I was scared to stand on one foot while holding the other foot. While bending my torso over the outstretched leg. While breathing. And squaring my hips. And relaxing my shoulders. And smiling.
Knowing I’d never do it, one night during class I bravely gave the pose a try. I took a deep breath, grabbed my foot, and stretched out my leg. Then, I took another deep breath and squared my hips. Success! Someday, when I least expect it I’ll bend my torso over the outstretched leg and put my forehead on my knee. Until then, I’ll keep celebrating the courage I found to go for it.
Machine Gun Kelly has a song that is becoming part of my life’s soundtrack.
I hear voices in the air
I hear it loud and clear
They’re telling me to listen
Whispers in my ear
Nothing can compare
I just want to listen
Whose voices and whispers do I hear? I hear my teachers who are inspiring me to unlock the potential my body still has — even at 49. I hear the other students who are constantly motivating me. I hear my own voice redefining what the rest of my life will be like: healthier and stronger. Thank God that I made that brave decision. And then another. And another. And another.
I’m invincible — I am.