gorgeous image by KnotYourWorld
I’ve never liked exercise. As a kid, sports were not my thing, as much because of the team aspect as the athletics required. Running is out of the question (get back to me when they make a sports bra out of woven steel). Biking is great but, unless you’re commuting or spinning, it takes a ton of time to get a real workout. Swimming is lovely, and beautifully solitary, but it’s hard to really focus on your body when you are trying not to run into the other lap swimmers at the park district pool.
Yoga is all the good parts of exercise without the things that make me crazy.
Don’t get me wrong, sweating and panting is necessary too. You can’t improve your endurance without them. I just do mine in the pool, where the sweating at least is hidden and I can pretend I’m treading water instead of catching my breath.
Yoga requires none of the same deception that gets me through other methods of getting in shape.
Maybe it’s the studio I joined – I know it’s partly the teacher (Carrie rocks!) – but I’ve never felt more at home in my body.
My family has strange joints; I have a right knee that occasionally dislocates. It’s never been easy or particularly safe to do traditional aerobic exercise. All I need is another injury that sets me back farther.
There are some strenuous poses in my yoga practice but they tax my muscles, not my joints. I have a great list of “big boobs, bad knees” variants to traditional standing, sitting, and prone poses. I never leave a class without my body reassuring me that I have gotten a good workout, but I’m never that sore. The amazing thing I’ve found out about yoga, is that it’s completely personalized. The instructor takes you through a series of stances and shifts, but you never have to go farther into them than your body allows.
I have learned more about my body and its capabilities in the past year than the previous 20. My body is not as flexible as I’d like it to be, or as strong, but it has power in odd places that I would not have expected. More than anything, it is mine. It’s nearly impossible to hate your body coming out of a yoga class. Regardless of your skill level, you feel stretched, relaxed, and a tiny bit taller.
Yoga (and the ladies at Viva la Femme) taught me to love my body. I didn’t think that was possible.
My body isn’t perfect, but improvements now come from a place of love. I don’t want to change myself because I’m not good enough. These days, I want to change because I deserve all the comfort a fit, strong body offers.
This is new territory for me and something I am excited to explore.