I first started stretching and “down-dogging” a few years back. I began my yoga adventure at a local studio, taking in-person classes. I remember asking my classmates, “Why isn’t there a line around the block for yoga?” To this day, I still wonder. Yoga has done amazing things for me in so many ways. In fact, this Mother’s Day I received a new pair of “fancy” yoga pants as my gift. My husband said I’m a better mom when I do regular yoga, so he wanted to encourage the habit. In that same vein, I want to encourage others to give yoga a try.
- Yoga is for everyone. You don’t have to be thin, young or fit to successfully do yoga. You also don’t have to be super bendy and flexible. I found that there was no need to be self-conscious in a yoga class, even if you have one leg high in the air and your arms stretched overhead in quite an unflattering way.
- Fancy clothes are not required. I’ve done yoga in old leggings, shorts and t-shirts. My clothes are not name brand and they do the job just fine. Wear whatever you want and whatever makes you feel comfortable.
- You can do yoga at home! I’ve had the misfortune on more than one occasion of finding a yoga studio that I love and for whatever reason the location closes or relocates. There were a few times that I questioned if the universe was sending me a sign that yoga was just not for me. Then I found online yoga and it works. At home yoga gives me the opportunity to participate in a class at a time that works best. It also eliminates any self-consciousness about flexibility, ability or whatever else may be standing in your way. Plus, there are numerous free options available.
- Yoga is a journey. When I first started learning yoga, I asked the super bendy/super hip teacher who I thought was the coolest, “What level class do we move on to once we master this intro class?” Clearly, I knew nothing about yoga! But I have learned since then that yoga isn’t about leveling up or showing off. For me, it has proven to be about mental calm and finding inner peace. Who doesn’t want and need that?
I am no yoga expert, but I know when I stumble upon a good thing. There are moments when I am doing yoga that a stretch or a move feels so nice or powerful that I get emotional. It fills me with such gratitude for my body’s ability to do the practice and for having found the practice in the first place.
During the recent stay-at-home-entertain-two-busy-boys-while-working-a-full-time-job awesomeness, I stepped up my yoga game with free online yoga videos. Want to work on your tight shoulders? There’s a class for that. Need some quality downtime to recharge? There’s a video for that. Want to do a handstand? Ok, there’s a video for that, but I’m not even there! The videos are short which is ideal since a moment is sometimes all I can find. Because of this convenience, I have found a way to do way more yoga than ever before and an amazing thing has happened. I’ve found the energy and inspiration to supplement the videos with time on the treadmill. I know how to take calming, deep breaths when an overwhelming thought pops into my mind as they often do. I’m actually finding some of the peace that I’ve been looking for and with that peace comes gratitude.
I am grateful for finding those quiet moments, even if they are spent twisted and knotted in ways I never thought possible. In fact, it’s because of those seemingly impossible twists and turns that I do feel such gratitude. I can actually do this and it feels great! As a side note, my body is also changing. I mean, I’m not buff, but I can see the tiniest of little muscles poking out of my upper arm. I actually have muscles and they want to be used!
Over the last few months, yoga has proven to be an important tool for managing stress. I feel fortunate to have discovered it and just want to remind others that it is there and available to you. While you may not enjoy yoga, I hope you find “your thing” to help you deal with the stresses of 2020.
Yoga is a great stress reliever for me. How have you been relieving your stress and caring for yourself? Share it here. Your suggestions could help another mother. Here is a link to the at-home yoga that has been powering my stress relief: youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene.