I need yoga. You might, too.
Here’s me a year into a yoga practice followed by me just starting a new yoga practice.
Let me back up.
I’ve been an off and on yoga practitioner for about 15 years. I discovered Rodney Yee videos in high school and did them and some other home video style yoga moves semi-regularly through college. I half-assed some prenatal yoga before Doc was born, and it was pretty great for me when I would actually do it.
I’ve had some issues in my lower back for many years, also. I would develop pain on one side after walking for a long time or carrying heavy things. However, late in my pregnancy, I developed something called SPD, which caused not only severe pain in my low back and hips but made walking very difficult.
Unfortunately for my job, I have to be on my feet a decent amount and also carry a lot of heavy gear (I do solo video production work). I noted that during my second trimester when people were first finding out I was pregnant there were a lot of offers to “help carry that” or “push that cart for me” that I didn’t need, but when I was huge and miserable and my pelvis was falling apart all those do-gooders had faded into the woodwork. (Family leave policy in this country is an absolute joke, but I won’t get started on politics now…)
After Doc was born, the condition improved but I was still left with lingering issues and pain. Carrying and lifting a baby all day wasn’t helping.
I tried doing yoga again. Now, folks, I don’t know why this stuck this time, because it certainly wasn’t a magic quick fix. And after the first session I recall things felt worse, not better. But after 2-3 good yoga sessions spaced a day or so apart, I started to notice a huge improvement in my pain level. After only a couple of weeks, the pain was nearly GONE.
I still have flare ups and it’s always when I have been slacking. I’m a working mom with lots of hobbies, so I don’t get as much yoga time as I’d like. I’ve tried to do it while hanging out with my kid but I wouldn’t say it’s an ideal way to get a good session in. So now I do yoga 1-2 times a week and it’s working very well for me.
You can easily see in the above photo I’m nowhere near perfect form. But one of my favorite things about yoga is the idea of accepting where I am today and appreciating myself for showing up. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Healthy living isn’t a goal, it’s a way of being.
So, from this relative newbie to anyone who’s thinking of dipping in their toes, some suggestions.
Take a class.
I don’t regularly take classes because I can’t find any locally that fit into my oddball schedule. Also, I tend to veer off and do my own thing a bit. But I do recommend taking a class at some point early in your practice. And then finding a way to fit one in occasionally thereafter. A trained teacher will help make sure you’re not going to injure yourself with bad form. Plus you’ll get some new ideas of things to incorporate into your home practice.
Use a mat.
Find a mat before you even do one pose. I find even simple poses to be like 1000 times harder without a mat. If I would not have had a mat to start out, I’m not sure I would have stuck with it. Other accessories like straps and blocks can be substituted with belts or towels or books. Borrow someone’s yoga mat once or twice if you want to see if you like things before buying.
Find a source that works for you, then try some more.
There is no shortage of free online videos for beginner yoga students. (I highly recommend the Yoga with Adriene youtube channel for newbies – there’s something for everyone and she’s SO chill and good at what she does.)
But here’s one more suggestion for finding good home videos: your local library. Mine has dozens of yoga DVDs available, and if you’re from a small town whose library doesn’t carry these, use the miracle of something called Interlibrary Loan to try some. Talk to your local librarian if you need help with this, or search yourself with www.worldcat.org
Be kind to yourself.
Remember earlier when I talked about how I love yoga because it’s about accepting yourself as you are today and appreciating that you showed up? If you do take a class and find an environment that doesn’t make you feel this way, get the heck out and don’t go back. It’s not supposed to be this way, and whether it’s the fault of the teacher or the atmosphere of the group, you shouldn’t have to waste your time being intimidated.
Find what feels good.
Piggybacking off the idea that your class and practice should reflect an appreciation of where you are now, so should your individual poses. When I’m in a pose and I know if I shift just a bit I can get something that works better for me, I do what’s better for me. Perfectly following a teacher who knows nothing about my body would be a time waster. I am an expert and master of myself. If I feel like I need a little extra child’s pose today because my hips are tight and I hate doing planks, guess where I’m at during planks? Forehead on the ground.
Hmm. I’m starting to think that there might be some overarching metaphors here that I could apply to my own life in general…
Now, this is primarily a knitting blog so I’m going to share one video, it’s a quickie. Enjoy!