I vividly remember nap time in kindergarten.
I dreaded it.
Our teacher would turn off the lights, have us pull out our mats and tell us it was time to rest. We’d all lay our little bodies down for some quiet time and inevitably… I’d get scolded for talking. I don’t think I ever napped during nap time.
Fast forward roughly 30 years, and I still struggle with quiet time. I’ve always explained it away as my “Type A” personality. Perhaps you are like this too. There are constant thoughts and ideas turning cartwheels in my mind. I tend to always fill the silence. I feel guilty if I’m not on the go, accomplishing something. While perhaps it can be argued that our DNA is somewhat programmed this way, one of my goals this year is to re-program it a touch, by learning to meditate.
My desire to quiet some of the chatter in my mind and increase my clarity has led me to the practice of yoga. For years I have watched others quietly twist and stretch their bodies into pretzel-like shapes at the gym. Truthfully, I’ve always passed on that class. NOT because I didn’t recognize the amazing health benefits from yoga, but because if I was going to put in an hour at the gym, I wanted to leave sweaty and exhausted thus allowing me to eat more pretzels, not sit like one. I didn’t understand what was really going on in those classes..until now.
Yes, now that I have a little more time on my hands, I have started to take Yoga (and Pilates)… and I like it! A few times a week after I run or bike or use the elliptical cross trainer, I join in on a yoga class. It was a little intimidating walking in, but I have been warmly welcomed by my fellow classmates and wonderful instructors. For me the practice is providing valuable life lessons in strength, flexibility and relaxation.
Strength: When we talk about strength we often think about physical strength, and without a doubt yoga helps with this. To the casual observer the poses might look easy, but even the basics call for balance and coordination. Yoga helps to prevent muscle soreness and promotes faster recovery between training sessions. While you are calming your brain muscle, you are engaging and lengthening others. Physically I can tell a difference (I may even be a little taller than 5’2″ now!). However it is certainly an exercise not just in body, but mind too. I think it takes strength to acknowledge that sometimes you need to step back and take a little time for yourself. Is this selfish? I don’t think so. Having the courage to make the very best of your life will help you help others make the very best of theirs.
Flexibility: Studies show that the added flexibility of yoga can help keep you limber as you begin to age. Each pose prompts a new give and take in your body. Yoga is a practice of harmony and balance. Outside of the classroom this has helped me become more flexible in everything I do. It has also opened me up to new possibilities. When faced with a challenge, yoga reminds me to stop for a second… and just breathe.
Relaxation: It’s amazing how slowing down the mind can help take the edge off. Stress and pressure are a part of life, we’ll always be coping with something. However, each time I go to class, I find myself slowly slipping into a more relaxed state. If I’m uptight and troubled when I arrive at class, I leave feeling refreshed with renewed perspective. Even the chilliest, cloudiest February day seems a little brighter one yoga hour later.
I can’t help but draw a parallel between my kindergarten days and modern day.
It makes me giggle each time I walk into class. We roll our mats out, the lights dim, and our teacher tells us to calm our minds. Slowly we make our way into child’s pose…
It’s never too late to revisit lessons that were started so many years ago. Sometimes in order to grow we need to go back to the basics.
- Yoga – At Home and Classes – a Balancing Act (joyofspa.com)
- Individual Combines Exercise Techniques for Healthier Lifestyle (everywherealways.wordpress.com)
- What Do You Think of Facial Yoga? (bellasugar.com)
- Yoga Pose of the Week: Cobra Pose (onyxandmint.wordpress.com)
- Lessons from a yoga mat #1 What does Samadhi mean to a girl in Perth on a yoga mat in her lounge room (whatmybodywants.wordpress.com)