I dreamt of doing yoga last year but I never did any because I didn’t have time. Yes, that sad old excuse. But just like everyone else who trots “I don’t have time” out it’s a terrible porky pie. Or lie if you’re not familiar with cockney rhyming slang.
The truth is I don’t make time for yoga in my life because when I exercise I think I should get a cardio workout. So things like boxercise, cardiotennis or cage fitness get priority over yoga and yoga never gets done.
So with cardio exercise sorted I started the 52 Exercises quest in 2013 to try a different exercise each week and make time for gentler exercise like stretching, bending or even just breathing.
I thought I’d do heaps of yoga because there are so many different types to try but we’re half way through 2013 and so far I’ve only done bikram yoga and freestyle yoga. On average I’m doing yoga once every three months when I’d like to do it weekly. Still that’s an improvement on never doing yoga.
Here’s how to make life changes slowly but surely:
1. Accept the craziness and resistance that comes before change
So when I see a new Vinyasa style yoga studio in Noosa offering a free introductory class I’m there like a shot. It’s one of those rare Saturday mornings when I don’t have to shuttle the kids to activities because it’s school holidays.
Today I can do an activity of my own but even though I don’t have anyone else to get out of the door I’m still running late. I put my foot down and watch out for police cars, my mind flashing with the imagined embarrassment of arriving late to yoga and ruining the zen atmosphere.
Then I get lost, drive round in circles a few times and feel ridiculously stressed out when I pull into the suspiciously empty car park. But the yoga teacher Heidi and her partner Joe are chatting with neighbors so I haven’t missed a thing and won’t be disturbing anyone.
We head to the studio and spread out yoga mats. I ease straight into my usual delaying tactics by asking Heidi, what she does, where she does it and why. She’s a fellow travel nut who’s spent time in Cambodia, India and Seattle so it’s a great diversion.
But then we can delay no longer.
Heidi explains she chooses a different theme for her yoga classes each week and this week is about opening and softening the heart. She says that all our emotions gather like dust around heart and can harden there turning to stone which we need to clear. Six months ago I would have sneered at this but now I totally relate to it.
2. Push your limits daily or find people who’ll push them for you
Heidi explains that today’s class will focus on deep breathing and backward bends to help us open our heart and let people back in. It’s perfect for me.
We start sitting cross legged for breathing. Eyes closed, Heidi and Joe’s gentle suddenly Oms fill the room. I join in, feeling self conscious but knowing this type of breathing exercise is perfect for me because I’ve recently become obsessed with the enteric nervous system (or enteric brain) and stimulating the vagus nerve. I have the lovely Jen Gresham to thank for my new obsession because she gifted me a Sun subscription and I read about the “Belly in the Brain” there.
We don’t breathe for long though and soon start practicing some poses. The class is slow moving with a focus on holding and refining poses rather than rushing through them like in Bikram yoga and Heidi’s commentary is amazing:
“Lift up the belly of your right thigh, scoop the outside of your left buttock, can you feel your belly lift up?” She asks. I can.
“Lift your chin, rotate the outside of your shoulders.”
When I get confused she comes over and adjusts me, gently pushing down on my shoulder and thigh in a stretch which is wonderfully and painfully relaxing.
3. Listen to your body not your mind
At home that night I think about how kind Heidi was and wish we were friends. If I haven’t found my tribe here in Australia it’s because I haven’t dared to look. But now I want to spend more time with people who are interested in meditation and mindfulness. I want to talk with people who are open to things like the enteric brain and vagus nerve and into alternative living because the suburban lifestyle is crushing me.
Heidi said the yoga poses would make our minds go crazy but mine slowed down. She said the poses would stir up emotions and heartache and they did bring up old feelings of loneliness and sadness which have been dormant over the school holidays.
With the children at home I’ve been too busy to feel my emotions and although I’m not depressed any more my heart’s still aching.
I’ve been making big changes to my life but I know I need to make more. Meditating alone is not enough to change your life. There are other changes I need to make and words I need to speak but right now I don’t know what scares me more – change or no change.
I remember how Heidi talked about softening your heart to let people back in but I don’t know how. I don’t know how to talk about myself. I don’t know what to say.
But I remember that last year I dreamed of doing yoga and now I’m doing it. I remember my lessons in mindfulness and how life is less about dreaming and doing and more about being.
Change is hard. It takes time and practice. So let’s open our hearts and bodies and start changing right now.
Vinyasa Yoga Review – #28 in the 52 Exercises Quest
Cost: It’s normally $20 for a casual class but Heidi was celebrating the opening of her new yoga studio and Ayurveda center at Your Life in Balance in Noosa when I went with a first time yoga class free in July.
Time Exercising: 90 minutes.
Average Heart Rate: 72 bpm.
Peak Heart Rate: 112 bpm.
Calories Burned: 158 calories. But I think Heidi’s yummy Amazeballs which she treated us to after the class compensated for any possible weight loss.
Fun Factor: 6/10 – I don’t think yoga’s about having fun.
Fear Factor: 7/10 – It was a bit scary being the only person at the class to begin with even though Heidi and Joe were so welcoming and lovely.
Post-exercise Glow: 9/10. Oh yeah.
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Have you tried Vinyasa yoga? Or maybe you love Bikram, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Hatha or Kundalini yoga? Or is yoga something you think about doing but never do?