On any given Monday and Thursday at 10:15 AM you’ll find me on a mat, soaked in sweat, head to toe in a room that’s at least 90 degrees. Every muscle in this 61 year old body has been worked hard, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I am a yoga mama—who would have thought????
Six months ago I had my annual physical and asked my doctor what I had to do to get rid of chronic back pain and lots of little aches that seemed to be occurring too frequently.
With a straight face, he asked me if I had tried yoga. I laughed out loud—do I look like I can do yoga? I can’t sit still and am unable to tie myself into a pretzel. He has been my doctor for more than twenty years and knows me well. He said to try it—it’s good for a lot of “stuff” but make sure you find a teacher you like.
I left his office thinking he was crazy. Later that week, I told my knitting group about his advice. To my surprise, many knitters (all shapes, sizes, and ages) around the room did practice yoga and had recommendations. I began to rethink this yoga idea; my back ached while I was cogitating.
A week later I arranged for a few private lessons with the most highly recommended teacher, Kirsten. Learning some of the basics at home where I could fall over, get stuck and be completely confused was a smart move. Kirsten was compassionate AND smart. She knew her yoga and successfully convinced me that I could do it. After the first session, my back felt better, but more importantly I realized that I could actually do this and like it.
Yoga brought new words and new perspectives into focus: breath, paying attention to my body, alignment, gaze, flow, eliminating distractions. All had relevance both on and off the mat. Every class I’m able to do something that I was unable to do the previous class. There are times when I see my shadow on the studio floor and, in amazement say “That’s me!” I don’t mean that in an egotistical way—but it really is quite a surprise for me to see myself flowing from one pose to another while breathing and working hard.
When Kirsten had an accident and took a leave of absence, I jumped right into the next class with a new teacher, Megan. Yes, I was a little nervous. The new class was more rigorous, and it was a heated classroom. Would I like her? Would it be too hard? Would I cry? The answer is all good news. Megan pushes me beyond my comfort zone in a similar way that I pushed my students to write and think critically beyond their usual limits.
No, I’m not doing handstands yet, but every class I make progress and continue to work on my daily practice, incorporating the new poses learned in class. Making the quiet time to do this for myself has been a real gift. I do owe a great deal of thanks, not only to Dr. Tracy who first put the bug in my ear, but also to both Kirsten and Megan… and also to my daughters who both practice yoga and offered encouragement and strength through this whole process.
I like what yoga does for me. It’s centering, quieting, and peaceful. It also strengthens what needs to be stronger and relaxes what is tied in knots. So it is with great joy that I include yoga in my life and can’t imagine living without it.