July 10, 2010

Tip of the day

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(Photo from Yoga Journal Website)  Believe it or not, I can still do this pose!  Granted, not as well as this guy, but I can do it!

If you’ve read my profile, you know that I practice yoga.  I love the way my body feels during and after a good practice.  I like the sense of awareness that it gives me of my body—where I hold tension, when I hold my breath, how my body responds to challenging poses, the confidence that I feel when I meet the challenge of a pose, and how much more relaxed and open I feel after the practice. 

Yoga is good for keeping my firey side/pitta dosha in check.  Yoga is an individual practice with an encouragement not to compare yourself to others but to work on self and turn within.   When I’m purposeful with my movements and when I look inward, I leave feeling refreshed with a different kind of energy than before.  Instead of anxious or restless energy, I’m rejuvenated and centered.

As you may know, yoga has a strong association with spiritual practices.  While I opt for a teacher and practice that focuses mainly on the physicality of the movements and practice, lately I’ve been using some of the quiet time in between poses for prayer and meditation.  I think about how grateful to God I am for my body.  I’m reminded of Psalms 139, and I take awe in how I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.  When I look at my body with appreciation, I feel less self conscious and am less likely to compare myself with others in a negative way.

If you haven’t yet tried, yoga, I encourage you to give it a whirl.  When I started yoga years ago, I was very, very out of shape.  I remember it being a big challenge for me to stay in downward dog for any amount of time.  You will be amazed at how quickly your body responds and gains strength.  Yoga helped me with sciatic pain related to a work injury from years ago.  It was the only intervention that eliminated the pain.  Don’t be intimidated if you enter a yoga class and have a yogi with a wisp of a body.  I took  yoga until 3 days before I had our daughter, so you can imagine how large I was at the time.   Yes, at times I felt like a beached whale, but I was aware of how you can adapt and take each position into different levels.  (DO NOT attempt yoga when pregnant unless working with a certified prenatal/postnatal yogi).  If you have a good instructor, he or she should be able to tell you how to alter the movements for your body type. 

Call around to different studios and gyms to ask about pricing.  Some classes, especially ones at community centers, churches, and synagogues, are donation only classes.  The Yoga Journal website also has lots of free information, downloads, and music to get you started.

One more tip for when you start your practice.  If you choose to buy your own mat, you’ll want to take care of it so that it doesn’t get very dirty.  When rolling your mat, first fold it in half with the inside top of the mat touching the inside bottom of the mat.  Then roll the mat and use a strap to secure it rolled.  If you were to roll it from top to bottom as most people do, the side of the mat that touches the floor or ground would roll into the side of the mat where you put your hands, feet, and sometimes face.  Yucko! 

Best wishes on your yoga practice.  Namaste!

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