So the last few months, I have felt completely stressed out with my kids on summer break, my menopausal hormone imbalance, and trying to sell our house. I don’t know how many of you can relate but the showings seem to come at the most unfortunate times. Last week, they called at noon for a showing at 4 when I was knee-deep at work. The beds were unmade, the dishes were in the sink, and the children that I enlisted to power clean— were at the pool relaxing! ” Really Mom, It’s summer break!”
I decided I needed to practice some mindfulness in order to settle my erratic brain. Because I don’t know how to meditate, I thought of adding Yoga to my usual routine of running and Zumba. The first few weeks went well. I seemed to develop a groove after week #2; realizing that I’m not nearly as limber as I thought. Week #3 brought the reality that I was elderly and not that nimble 20 yo ballet dancer anymore. Week #4 –well, I can still cross my legs, but my splits look more like Gumby trying to morph into Stretch Armstrong than Natalie Portman in “The Black Swan”.
But here is the kicker! I walked into class to find all my cronies facing flat against the wall in some awkward squat position. I slowly and quietly turned to leave deciding I had entered the wrong class only to be called out by the Yoga instructor (damn, why did I try to befriend her?) saying—” Don’t worry-come in because we are trying something different tonight. NO JUDGEMENT in our practice. NAMASTE”
Much to my dismay, she was teaching Wall Yoga. I suffered through the difficult positions with my muscles quivering and sweat dripping onto my newly purchased chic pink Target brand Yoga mat. I drove home thinking that I must be the only person going to Yoga that doesn’t toke up before class. I then came home and googled (officially a verb now) Wall Yoga. OOPS–I’m the jerk! I proceeded to find extraordinary information on Wall Yoga’s amazing health benefits. Likewise, I was apparently incredibly fortunate to have found an experienced teacher here in the Midwest.
My ignorance has prompted me to enlist some exercise and Yoga experts to write some guest blogs for you all. After all–we are in this together and you certainly can’t trust my views on exercise. Jeez —I thank the Universe because usually I take my 19 yo daughter with me to class. I’m sure she would have posted a You Tube viral sensation of me trying to do these moves.
I’d like to introduce KATHY—our Yoga expert!!!
Aloha! I am a guest writer for Angela M.D.’s lovely blog. Because of her new-found enjoyment in the practice, Angela has asked me to write a post about the benefits of yoga.
But, before I get started, let me share a little bit about me. In 2012 I graduated from Carthage College with a degree in Exercise Physiology. Although I love the human body and all the amazing physical things it can do, I decided to go right back to school to finish a licensing program at Dominican University to become a Registered Dietitian. I am currently in my second (and final) year and will be looking for internships this spring. Upon this road of health, I discovered yoga. My passion for feeding the body and moving my muscles naturally moved towards yoga due to its holistic practices. After 3 years of practicing (during college), I decided that I wanted to share this wonderful lifestyle with the world! Ok, well maybe my friends and colleagues first…So, I became a registered yoga teacher (RYT 200) through Essencia Yoga in Wheaton IL. I love teaching and sharing my experiences with students of all capabilities and lifestyles, so I hope you enjoy this article and maybe visit me at the studio one day!
Ok, enough about me…let’s talk yoga!
Benefit #1: Relaxing
In this modern world we live in, every day is a day to do more, learn more, and simply accomplish more. We are taught from birth to be the best at whatever we put our minds to. While this is great and all, it is really good for us to slow down every now and then to assess our progress and reevaluate the route we are taking. Yoga helps your body to do that. By focusing on your breath, connecting it with the body, and feeling the sensations in each posture, you become more aware of not only your surroundings, but who you are as a person. After practicing for awhile, you might even begin to notice that the little things that used to bother you so much seem like just a cool breeze that you can handle much better.
Benefit #2: Strength
If you have taken just one yoga class, you will more than likely know what I am talking about here. In yoga, you use your body as the machine to move into postures and facilitate healing throughout. You build muscles you never knew you even had. As a matter of fact, I practiced for 3 years on my own before actually taking a yoga class and I was actually sore after the class! Having been an athlete my whole life, I was shocked that yoga could make me sore. It is important to note here that not all yoga is for building muscles, but the majority of the types do have some sort of asana (posture) attached, so a physical benefit will happen along the way.
Benefit #3: Strong Heart
Along with strength, yoga can increase your heart rate during class through flowing motions. Building a strong heart allows for the heart muscles to grow stronger. A stronger heart means a lower overall heart rate and is therefore a more healthy heart. Like any form of exercise, it is important to get that heart rate up just a bit so it can become stronger over time.
Benefit #4: Spirituality
By focusing on the breath, body, and mind, you may naturally become a more spiritual person. Being ”spiritual” can mean so many different things, depending on who you are and your current level of spirituality.
Benefit #5: Healthy Eating
Becoming more in tune with your body will not only strengthen and stretch your muscles on a deeper level, it will also create a mind-body connection that might possibly lead to choosing healthier foods. When we show care to our bodies, our mind wants to keep up that kindness; which is when we start reaching for more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
As you can see, yoga is so much more than just a physical practice, but the practice is usually where it all begins. Everyone is a beginner in yoga, your mat is your sacred space and no one will judge you (not even you!).
Thank you Angela, for the opportunity to write about a major passion of mine and I hope that all who read this may consider trying just one yoga class. Whether you want to grow stronger, more flexible, or find a place of peace to yourself for an hour, give it a try; I’m sure you’ll love it.
Namaste. (“salutations to you”)
Thanks to Kathy for her contribution and check out her site above or on the link to the right!!!