I can't believe I've reached my two year anniversary of doing yoga. Time flies!
Two years ago, what seems like yesterday, while walking my dog, Benny, through the nearby field I decided then and there that my aches and pains needed to go. I pulled out my cell phone from my pocket and called the local yoga studio (Living Yoga Aurora) that I kept passing on my daily commute to and from work.
I signed up for two private classes with the owner, Claudine. I wanted to find out how yoga would be like before taking an actual class with other students, and I wanted to get some feedback from an expert on those exercises that would work best for my trouble areas. The instructor was incredibly aware of every little muscle group and skeletal issue, and immediately targeted various great exercises for sedentary workers like myself. Those first two sessions were incredibly tough, and flew by as if they'd just been a minute long.
After completing the second, private session I immediately signed up for the upcoming yoga fundamentals class. There I learned each and every basic pose and how to tweak it as flexibility improved with practice.
Before the last class I started going to a gentle/restorative class on Saturdays, which became one of my very favorites both for the pace, exercises, and the instructor. Since then, I've never looked back! Yoga is definitely for me.
I've felt the most affinity for gentle/restorative and hatha yoga, and eventually progressed to vinyasa level 1. I still get knocked out by vinyasa sometimes, but I persist. What a difference to feel a good muscle ache versus a bad muscle ache. A good muscle ache follows the stretching of a tight muscle group. A bad muscle ache is a lower back pain that's there because your neck and shoulders are hunched up over a computer!
Even though I haven't been as regular with my practice over the past six months, every time I go to the studio I feel renewed and refreshed. No wonder cats and dogs stretch to their heart's content, we should too.
My favorite poses are shavasana (of course!), pigeon pose, warrior three, and tree pose. Wide-leg forward bend (plus a twist!) is also a great mind-clarifying pose...it's neat seeing the world from a different perspective.
Over the past two years, yoga has helped me focus on the moment (something I thought was impossible), it's stopped weird aches and pains, and there's just no feeling that can be compared to stretching a muscle you've been sitting tightly over all day at work. The feeling of release is amazing.
It's also neat being exposed to a variety of different instructors who have their set classes, some specialize in visualization, some specialize in high-energy, some specialize in proper form and managing every inch for success.
The studio I visit has all the props you could ever need, but I have my own mat, strap, and two blocks. I usually bring a hand-towel because I really heat up during practice.
I've recently invested in a bolster for my practice at home, to help me do some gentle poses that can relieve some tension in-between classes. For example, it's great for supported supine backbends, supported supine heart openers, and for supported shavasana in cobblers pose. Bolsters are also great when doing a forward bend during cobbler's pose or a supported child's pose--keeps the knees at the right distance.
I now have dozens of workshops under my belt, ranging from a gong bath to guided meditation, and from a visualization board to a wellness program.
I enjoy the excitement stepping into the studio, hearing other students' conversations, seeing instructors prepare for class and greet students as they sign in, and then the energy focuses and quiets down as we journey through a class together. It's so lovely to be in a room of like-minded people who are in the moment...from when we set an intention as we begin the class, all the way down to intentionally tuning out during shavasana and saying namaste as we close the day's practice together.
One of my favorite yoga phrases is: allow the mat to reach up to support you. There's few things as comforting as knowing my mat, and yoga practice, will always be there for me. Namaste!