8 Things Kat Has Learned Practicing Yoga
A couple of months ago, with the help of a new friend, I started my journey to practicing yoga. In a short time I have learned a few things...
I have never been athletic. I avoid gyms. I am incredibly uncoordinated and very self-conscious about my lack of athleticism, but after reading so many things about the benefits of yoga, I wanted to learn in hopes that it would benefit me too. One on one yoga seemed like a safe bet as there wouldn't be a lot of people to point and laugh when I failed at holding a pose. I have a video that I've had for years... I've used it once and quit after 10 minutes because it's really hard to do the movements when you have to break your neck to stare at the television. A couple of months back, I made a post to Facebook asking for referrals for a yoga instructor who could work with me one on one. That's when I met Samantha. She teaches yoga at Evansville Power Yoga. She seemed like she would be a good fit. She was easy for me to talk to and I was immediately comfortable around her. If I was going to contort my body in weird ways in front of someone besides my cats, Samantha was the person I felt like I could do that with. And so, my yoga journey began...
1. I CAN Do Yoga
This was a shock to me. Like I mentioned, I have never been a physical or athletic person. In fact, I am pretty sedentary most of the time. The realization that my body can and will move like a yogi was a huge revelation. Not only will it move, but my body actually seems to enjoy the movement.
2. I FEEL Better
I have always suffered from tension in my left shoulder. As long as I can remember it has always been there, in part to poor posture, sleep position and stress and in part to my lack of daily physical exercise. I have gotten massages in the past, and the tension subsides... for about the first 20 minutes after I'm finished. Then it creeps back in. When I finish with a yoga session, that tension stays away for hours. Sometimes it even stays away for days.
3. I SLEEP Better
I don't know if it's a result of the relaxation that I get out of yoga or if it's the endorphins and other chemicals that my body makes when I practice yoga, but I sleep so much better. I am less restless and I wake up energized. It is truly some of the best sleep of my life, which of course makes for a happier, healthier body.
4. All Mats Are Not Created Equal
I have a yoga mat at home that I bought about a year ago (notice that I said I've been practicing yoga for a couple of months) and I hadn't really used it. When I started practicing yoga with Samantha, she had me use one of her mats. After several times of using her mat, and then using that (cheap) one I bought I year ago, I have realized there is definitely a big difference in mats. The one I have at home is far thinner and more slippery than the mat that I was using with Samantha.
5. Group Yoga Is Different... In a Good Way
After several one on one sessions with Samantha, I was finally confident enough to try a group session. I took part in Yoga on the Bridge. We were outside, on the walking bridge that runs along the river, beside Ohio Street. This was the moment that I put all of my insecurities and fears aside. I did yoga with other people! And it was amazing!!! I do still like one on one yoga with Samantha, and also solitary yoga practice as well.
6. Sometimes Child's Pose Is Enough
I have learned so many new and exciting yoga poses. My favorite is probably Pigeon Pose (Ardha Kapotasana in Sanskrit). Aside from tension in my left shoulder, I have recurring pain in my lower back/pelvic area on my right side and this pose really helps to open up my hip and relieve some of that pain. However, there are times when my body just won't hold that pose comfortably... <insert Child's Pose> This is where Child's Pose comes into play. When the poses are too difficult, or maybe my whole day is just too difficult to practice for 20 or 30 minutes, there is always Child's Pose. This is a great way to get some stretching and relaxation in with minimal effort. And that is ok.
7. It Is Progress Not Perfection
You've heard the expression "It's the journey, not the destination." Yoga is like that. This isn't about holding the perfect pose or doing one of those cool headstands. This is about gradually building my strength, focus, flexibility and meditation practice. This is about slowly becoming more in-tune with my body and breathe. And that is something that takes practice. It is progressive, and I am getting there.
8. I Have a Lot To Learn
Speaking of progress rather than perfection. I have a lot to learn and a long way to go. For now, I am content working toward the goal of practicing yoga every day, even if it's only for a short amount of time. Right now, I am carving out little bits of time for me and my body. I am working on getting stronger and more centered. One day, maybe I'll do one of those cool handstand things. I look forward to the journey.
I will definitely continue practicing yoga. It has been an incredible addition to my life in so many ways, beyond just the physical aspects, but we'll get into that another time. For now... Namaste.