Being that I've always been an endurance athlete and prefer to spend my workout time going from one place to another, yoga as a practice has always been a challenge for me - both physically and mentally. I've always envied the women that breathe and move so effortlessly in yoga studios, looking so graceful and limber gliding through each pose while I fumble and fall behind them. I know, like my dedication to running they have achieved this through practice and commitment, but I just want to be naturally good!
My challenge is that I'm not one to be able to quiet my mind, let go of thoughts, or focus on one thing for very long . Instead, I tend to go a million miles a minute up there in that little brain I have, which makes yoga that much harder. Coupled with my terribly tight muscles due to years of compression exercise I'd rather blame my parents - my Dad can barely touch his shins, let alone his toes), I'm not a seasoned yogi.
Sure, I've dabbled in various classes over the years, but it has usually been during injuries when I've been reactive instead of proactive. I would go to Bikram Yoga (holy hotness) for a few weeks until I felt I had gotten through an injury, never to return again. Those spontaneous periods of time weren't enough to help me get to a point where I can move with grace or bend like a pretzel, so I've always shied away from yoga as a regular activity. I mean, I like to be the best at what I do and even if I place my mat down in the back of the room and try to follow along while trying to balance - I feel like they all know. They know I'm terrible. So, instead I've stuck to Pilates as an alternate practice of strength and stretching for my body and it's been good for me.
Last week I found a beautiful yoga studio along Main St. in Charlottesville, that offers Power Yoga as well as other classes that cater to one's choice of practice. Power Yoga is fast paced, somewhat fun (once you get past the discomfort part) and they play music! My first time was last week, and I found that it filled my need to be pushed (and inability to think about nothing) unlike some of the slower yoga classes that focus much more on meditation. I went to a lunchtime class, so it broke up the monotony of the day and gave me a great shot of energy and an attitude check which put me in the right place to get through the afternoon. I immediately felt sore in new places, which always makes me happy. I decided to buy a month pass, with a promise to myself that I would attend regularly and really give this yoga stuff a chance.
As a mom, finding the time to fit things like this into my day is tough (as you all know) so with some planning and prep work last night, I was able to get to a class this morning before work. Today's class was a bit more unpredictable and one of the major differences was there was no music. So, the goal was to connect with your breath and movement while making sure you "get out of your head". Ha, that's funny.
Don't think? How do you not think?
Here's a little example of what was going on in my brain during class (ssh, don't tell them I didn't get out of my head).
Get out of my head. How do I do that?
Focus on the noise coming from outside. (Garbage truck stops and glass shatters)
No! I'm supposed to focus on my breathing. (Deep breath in, deep breath out)
It's getting hot in here. What is that humming sound?
Downward dog, no problem. What did she say? Lift right and extend it out and up. Now, bring it to touch your nose. Wait, what? Bring my knee to my nose?
During half-moon pose: Oh hips. Oh hips. Oh my hips. Breathe Kelly, breathe. Oh, thank God that's over...
Is that a mosquito on the ceiling?
And so it continued, for an hour, until we were in Shavasana.
Shavasana is usually the time at the end of the class that I want to sneak out and get on with the day. As I lay there I'm usually allowing a flood of items from my "to do list" enter my brain and all I can think about is getting up, rolling up my mat and hitting the road. Today, however, I let myself give in and it felt like a much-needed nap. The heat was turned down, fans were blowing and I took the time to try to relax. I closed my eyes, relaxed my neck and jaw and really let my body sink into the floor. It felt good. No, it felt wonderful. I forgot about having to make a quick change and walk to work. Forgot about the stress of trying to sell our Vegas house, juggling work and family, all the things that move in and out of my brain all day - and instead I let go.
As I walked to work I reflected on the class and my efforts. Clearly I still have a problem getting out of my head and being "in the moment", but as I begin to learn the poses (and what they are called) I'm starting to feel more confident. Not necessarily confident in my ability to stretch or move like the other women in the room, but confident in where I'm at in my own practice. I have to make a mental note when I walk in that room that it doesn't matter where the other women (and men) are at, it only matters that I continue to work on where I am and my goals. We are all a work in progress (even the woman in front of me doing hand stands and bending like gum-by only can) and it's the journey that really counts.
Today I'm making a commitment to myself to go to a yoga class at least once a week (more if time permits), push myself in new ways, and be comfortable with not being the best. I'll leave the competitive stuff for when it counts.
I challenge you to do the same. What have you been avoiding out of fear of discomfort, embarrassment or even discovery? I know that juggling mommy duties, household chores and work (whether as a SAHM or working mom) can make it easy to put our goals on the back-burner, but they don't have to be put there. It's important to not lose yourself in the journey. So, do yourself a favor. Pull one of those icky and uncomfortable goals out, dust it off and make a commitment to start to do the work. You'll thank yourself for it, and your family will too.
Want to share your goal? Do it - it makes you more accountable and I'm happy to be a cheerleader!