Why I practice?
I might chance losing your attention if I covered the gamut of reasons… so I’ll give you the bullet points….
In my early 20’s I laid on my back for 3 days unable to move.
I had to call in sick once I crawled to the phone. Lower back problems are miserable! I began practicing yoga (VCR tapes-ha!) and my lower back stopped slipping out of alignment. No more excruciating pain, no more days spent on the hard floor, and thankfully no more using up sick days. As a personal trainer, I know
that back issues rarely begin with the spine. Weak abdominal muscles (compounded by excess visceral fat) are a major contributor, considering abs are the supporting muscles for your back. I also know that muscular imbalances, misalignment of the ankle, knee or hip, and tight muscles all contribute to back pain.
Episode # 2 – A number of years ago I feared I was a candidate for a hip replacement. For months, I was in agony, unable to sleep, or even sit comfortably on the sofa. My hip ached ALL the time. After a chiropractic adjustment to realign my pelvic bone, hips, and spine AND the realization that I had been absent from a yoga mat for a year, I returned to my yoga practice and my hip pain disappeared. Tight muscles are one of the leading causes of hip degeneration! Like an annoying gnat, I now recognize when my hips are in need of TLC, and I tend to them with yoga.
My body feels more agile, and more youthful, the more consistently I practice. When I’ve missed a week or two my body becomes stiff and rebellious. The physical practice of yoga is only one facet of what keeps me returning to the mat. The more profound aspect of yoga is not the exercise, flexibility, or the bodily pain relief, rather it’s the emotional / spiritual / interpersonal benefits that I notice in my life.
When I’m struggling on the mat to hold a pose, I focus on my breathing. If I feed the body with oxygen rather than thinking about how hard a pose is I know I can work through the physical challenge. This translates to life off the mat. We all have a choice when times are tough: we can focus on how difficult a situation is, or take a deep breath and know we have the strength to endure. Hard times (and challenging poses) are temporary. Admittedly, I’m guilty on occasion of being a drama queen so I can’t imagine if I did’t have yoga as a mentor.
When I fall out of a pose and feel silly, or compare myself to the person next to me – I’m not engaging in compassion for myself. And WE ALL KNOW how detrimental self-judgment can be! Yoga reminds me to be kind to myself which in turn leads to greater kindness and compassion for others! This is an on-going practice, I’m by no means claiming to be absent of judgment or pettiness; however, challenging poses remind me to practice compassion and persistence. Falling is unquestionably one of life’s greatest lessons in humility. We’ve all taken an absurdly ungraceful fall whether on the ski slope, a snowy sidewalk, or even worse – while in glamorous heels having our red carpet moments with no ice to blame……Can you embrace these clumsy, embarrassing, or heart-stopping moments as another great learning opportunity? Yoga provides infinite opportunities for learning every time I step on the mat. A life-long teacher!
A window into my “Why?”
Thanks for asking and for your interest.