The first thing I’ll tell you is that the teacher makes all the difference in the world. After working full time and walking the halls and playgrounds of an elementary school for ten years, I had the mistaken belief that I was in shape. Wrong! Sure, I could walk, but could I bend? My teacher Doreen, assured me that in time and with practice, I could. She not only taught me, she encouraged me, mentored me and made me believe in myself. She is truly a gift I continue to benefit from every week.
Secondly, I had to learn to leave my ego at the door. Yoga is not easy, especially at first. I was challenged to bend, stretch and move parts of my body that I hadn’t moved in years. And what’s worse, I didn’t realize how stiff and out of whack my body actually was. I quickly had to stop comparing myself to the others in the class, many who were far more accomplished than I could ever hope to be. Instead, I learned to enjoy their encouraging smiles and words of welcome each week. And finally, I had to learn to pat myself on the back for regularly showing up to class.
Third, my body didn’t always want to do what I wanted it to do. Balancing on one foot is still my least favorite thing to do. Yes, I can now do a plank instead of a plop, but it's still hard to hold the pose for any length of time. It took me a long time to not feel like a downward dope while doing a downward dog. And threading the needle often leaves me feeling knotted up. Yes, I humbly confess to releasing a tiny, embarrassing fart or two at first – I think I’ve got that under control now. Thankfully, no one ever laughed – although they may have wanted to. And no, I wasn’t the only one.
Fourth, yoga is as much for the mind as the body. Once you get into it you realize how beneficial taming and tuning the brain really is. And at the end of each class (my favorite part) I leave with a sense of peace and joy that I rarely started the class with.
Fifth, I’ve made a lot of friends. I love walking into class and being greeted by men and women I’ve come to know. Our group is friendly and welcoming- a tone set by our teacher and embraced by us all. Recently, my sisters have joined up and it makes the experience all the more enjoyable
Sixth, it’s really, really worth it. I want to be able to walk, move, bend and stretch for years to come and yoga is my key to insuring that future. I often find myself in a crowd at a concert or fair and see how many people my age struggle to freely move about. It’s a constant reminder for me to get out of bed and head to my yoga class.
No matter what your age or ability yoga is a gift you really should consider giving yourself.