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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Connection, openness and acceptance

During some personal crises in my life, I discovered yoga. I had done yoga before (in college), but more as something to to with my friends than as a practice. Then, when I had an incredible amount of stress in my life, I saw there was a convenient yoga class at my local YMCA. I started going.

Yoga was exactly what I needed. I am learning about breathing and the importance of expelling stress and tension out of your body. I am learning to breath deeply before I say something I will regret (though I've not yet fully learned not to say it). I am learning to accept where I am in life without judgement and to know that I may be different tomorrow. I am learning about openness, about letting in and letting go. All of this is in the present tense, because yoga is a practice and I always have something more to learn.

Yoga in a class is great and I can check yoga DVDs out from my library, but I also discovered Do Yoga With Me, which is a website with hundreds of free yoga videos at different ability levels, different lengths, and different styles. They have yoga for runners (my other regular form of exercise) and for writers (with practices for your wrists and hands). My cats and dog enjoy my yoga practice as well, though their participation is less productive for me. Having my face sniffed during meditation or belly sat on during shavasana pose is distracting; it's also a moment for me to learn not to be distracted.

All of this moves me to a new space in my life, one that is hopefully more compassionate and more open. Maybe a new space that is less stressful.

What about you? Have you tried yoga or do you have other ways to combat stress in your life?

13 comments:

  1. Jennifer!

    You are so much more healthy and balanced than me. The whole time I was reading your blog, I was thinking - I think I may need to do yoga. And then your final question, how do we deal with stress...? You do yoga and I enjoy martinis. :)

    But seriously, thank you for the link to the online yoga site. I sat through one yoga class once and made a giant fool out of myself. BUT with the level of stress I have these days, I think this might be just what I need.

    I can still have a martini from time to time, right?

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    1. Since I often do yoga before I make dinner, I also often follow up yoga with a glass of wine.

      As for making a giant fool out of yourself, one of the things I like about yoga is that acceptance of where you are and not comparing yourself to the people around you. So, if everyone else looked elegant and nimble and you felt like an elephant trying to dance, that's okay. :-)

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  2. I really like yoga. I took a class in college too and really loved it. I've gone back from time to time over the years, but with the kids my schedule changes constantly and I haven't found a class that I can stick to permanently.

    I will go back, once life calms down.

    And in the meantime, I'm having a martini with Ava. :-)

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    1. Try the website! Then you can do it on your schedule and you don't have to wait for life to calm down, you can let yourself calm life down.

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  3. Jennifer,
    Thanks so much for sharing the website. I'm going to check it out. I've done yoga in the past and it was great at relieving my stress. I really liked the instructor, but she left and opened her own studio. I could go to her new place, but it's not convenient to get to and doesn't have good parking. Location, location, location! LOL. Plus, I would have to go to a night class and the reality is I don't want to go anywhere after dark in the winter. I have good intentions, but it's not happening.

    My favorite stress reliever is pilates. I've been going for 2 years to my friend's studio. It's a reformer class, which involves equipment. Think hospital traction meets circus ;) There are only four reformer machines, so we have a small class. There are only 3 of us who attend regularly, and part of the appeal is all the laughing we do. The ladies are great inspiration for me too, because they are both a lot older than me and they are in fantastic shape. The stretching is wonderful, and like yoga, it's noncompetitive. I see improvements in flexibility and strength each time. There are things I never thought I could do that I can do now, and there are still things to challenge me.

    I had to laugh when you mentioned your dog sniffing you and your cat sitting on your belly. My animals are the same way, but if I close my door to exercise, my dog whines the whole time. :)

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    1. I've done pilates and really liked it, though my shoulder didn't (yoga doesn't bother my shoulder). I've never tried it on the machine, but been very, very curious!

      And I agree that part of the inspiration is seeing much older women and what good of shape they are in. It helps me keep wanting to go.

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  4. Oh, I definitely need a stress reliever in my life right about now. I may check out the website. With only one car between myself and the hubby atm, we have to share. So going to class will be impossible. But this looks doable and I need it. I need to learn to breathe and relax. Life has been in an upheaval for two years now. So thank you for sharing this. I can't wait to see how it goes.

    Though I have to agree with Ava that a Martini works wonders as well lol. ;)

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  5. I love yoga, but had to stop when we moved. Our new YMCA only offers it twice a week at 7:30PM which is an awful time for people with school aged kids. Thanks for the website. I'm gonna try it at home.

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    1. I hope you enjoy the website. I was so pleased when I found it.

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  6. I tried yoga a couple of times, but it took me forever to get out of those pretzel positions. :-)

    I just take an early morning walk every day to clear my head and get me read for the day.

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    1. Walks are great! I take a walk everyday with the dog and it is one of the highlights of my day.

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