Anyone who knows me, or hopefully reads Encore Voyage, should have figured out by now that I am one of the most snarky, sarcastic chicks you’ll ever meet. I am most emphatically NOT the type of person who comes to mind when you consider the practice of yoga. But as we headed down this road in retirement, I began to notice that getting up off of the floor isn’t as easy as it once was! I was losing core strength and stamina, and I didn’t like it ONE BIT!
Even I couldn’t imagine myself sitting in a room acting all zen-like. Heck, most people can’t even imaging me being quiet for that long! That said, about two years ago, when my brand new gym opened, I started one of the gym-based yoga classes. I figured I wouldn’t feel too stupid if I started out new like everyone else.
At the time, my thinking was that this might be a nice gentle type of workout. (I’m not a big fan of feeling my heartbeat in my ears!) I ended up attending two classes a week for the better part of a year.
What I didn’t realize is that
Yoga sneaks up on you, and quietly changes
the person you are, from the inside out.
- Slowly, steadily, your body becomes stronger, through the many asanas or poses. Anyone who thinks that yoga is just a bunch of stretches has been misled. Yoga is not for wimps! I can work up quite a sweat in a yoga practice.
- Your balance is improved from attempting balancing poses. As we age, lack of balance is one of the most common causes of falls. I figured it couldn’t hurt to be able to stand confidently on one foot while putting on my jammies, right?
- You do not need to be flexible to practice yoga! Flexibility is a benefit of yoga! I heard someone say, “You are only as young as your spine is flexible.” I have found that my lower back pain has disappeared as a result of my practice.
- Yoga is about self-acceptance! One of my favorite aspects of the yoga journey is that it is not about competition – not even with yourself! It’s about listening to your body and finding what feels good and right in that moment.
- There are many different types of yoga for many different purposes. Some move quite quickly, and others are more restorative. Certain yoga poses accomplish different things, and with a little training, you can pick and choose what is best for you. (As for me, hot yoga…two words – never.again!)
- Attending to the breath in a yoga practice yields a mindfulness and a quality of meditation that surprised me. This is where my snarkiness got tamed. I wasn’t expecting it. The more I practiced, the more I was able to see the carry-over into the rest of my day. I don’t get crazy in traffic. I don’t feel rushed. I am generally more peaceful, appreciative, and balanced than I was before. Crazy – I know!
I did find when I was first starting out that it was helpful to have a knowledgeable yoga instructor who could really guide me into the intention and correctness of the poses. It’s not about just yanking yourself around, trying to get into some shape. Yoga is much, much, more. Now I find that I really also enjoy a home practice, and YouTube has an endless supply of yoga videos, of all lengths and styles. A particular favorite of mine is Yoga with Adrienne. Adrienne Mishler has just the right personality, and is not too fast or too serious.
So how about it retired yogis? Anything else you’d like to add?
Oh…one more thing. If you do take up yoga, don’t cheap out on purchasing a yoga mat. Get a nice, slightly thicker one. Your knees will thank you!