I am the least athletic person I know. There isn’t an athletic person in my family tree. The only exercise that I have ever enjoyed is walking. Until nine years ago when I started having extreme pain in my left arm. I had no idea what the problem was, but it hurt too much to ignore. I went to the doctor who sent me for a MRI. The MRI showed I had a herniated disk in my neck and the doctor referred me to a spine specialist.
The spine doctor prescribed physical therapy and when that didn’t help, he injected cortisone into my neck- with a HUGE needle. I received no relief from the injection and I was getting pretty frustrated. My physical therapist recommended a massage therapist that did targeted therapeutic massages and he thought she could help me. I cried after my first massage because it was the first time in weeks that my pain was better. After six weeks of treatment, I felt great!! It just so happened that the massage therapist own a yoga studio with her son. I asked my best friend to go with me and we attended our first yoga class. It was Hatha yoga, which is very relaxing and peaceful. I fell in love with the practice! I went once a week for several months and my herniated disk felt so much better.
I would like to say that stuck with the yoga. But, like many adults, life got in the way of taking care of myself. I did go for about eighteen months, but then I slacked off. I started a new job that was very stressful, and I just didn’t have the energy to go to class. I gained 20 pounds and got very out of shape. In May of 2015, we found out we could join the Monon Center in Carmel, IN for free through our insurance. I was delighted when I saw they offered yoga classes. I signed up for the beginner class since it had been so long since I had practiced. That is when I realized how out of shape I really was. I started attending class one night a week on Mondays. My instructor just happened to have a son that had graduated from the new preschool where I had started working. She was kind and made it easy to make adjustments. There were men and women, older and younger people in the class. I remember leaving those first few classes feeling relaxed but completely exhausted.
I started going more frequently and eventually my stamina and strength grew along with my passion for the practice. If you have never tried yoga, it is hard to describe how wonderfully selfish of a sport it is. You are completely focused on yourself and your instructor. It is ALL about the breathing and just deep breathing is so much of a tension reliever. Add in the yoga poses and pushing yourself to do your best, it is the BEST hour of the day. I really don’t pay attention to what the other people are doing; I just lose myself in the practice.
When we decided to retire to Oceanside, it was the middle of winter 2018. We were very busy getting our house ready to sell, not to mention all the paperwork of buying a home long distance. I stopped going to my yoga classes. Yup, I had been going for two and a half years and I had lost 25 pounds. But I was just so overwhelmed by everything going on in my life, that I stopped putting the practice I loved so much as a priority. I missed it, but honestly, I was so busy, I just couldn’t fathom driving the twenty minutes from my house to attend class.
Fast forward to June. We are in our new home in Oceanside and Molly buys me classes at a yoga studio here for Mother’s Day. I go – once. It is so far away from our house (not really) and I was still getting used to the new town. I just wasn’t ready to commit to the practice again. In my defense, going to the beach has a similar effect on me and that is what we spent the summer doing.
Finally, after Thanksgiving, I was ready. I had been doing yoga at home, but I had gained ten pounds since the move. I knew I needed to find a yoga studio and I needed to start making my practice a priority again. Again, through our insurance, I decided to join a gym that offered yoga classes. The gym is literally a two-minute drive from out house. I started going a few weeks before Christmas and from the beginning, it has been wonderful. I have the BEST instructor that I have ever had. She is funny, pushes the class to do their best and makes it easy to make adjustments. I have found my Nirvana again. I am going twice a week and it is MY HOUR to focus just on myself. I set an intention every time I practice for “peace, love flexibility, and mercy.” These are the qualities I want in my life. This is what I focus on while I am practicing. I spend my hour breathing, stretching and balancing. I sweat, I make mistakes and I love it! Yoga has brought strength and balance back to my body. I am working on losing the ten pounds (two pounds off!) and most importantly, I am committed to practicing yoga on a regular basis and this makes me a better me. I hope if you are reading this, you have some form of exercise that makes you feel that way yoga makes me feel. I wish you strength, flexibility, love and mercy.