Yoga For The Second Half Of The Year

Mondays can be stressful for many. It’s the start of the work week for some (though for us moms, every day is a work day), and often the day we have to return to being “responsible adults.” Today is also the first of June, a new month and the halfway point of the year. Back in January, I started focusing my life toward being a more positive, healthy person. Since then, I’ve lost 20 pounds, written several chapters of several novels, published several articles, and worked hard at being a caring and compassionate mother to my son. I am not quite where I want to be in life, but I am constantly working on improving this.

One thing I’d like to work on is getting back to my regular yoga practice. At the start of the year, I started my 30 Days of Yoga challenge thanks to online yoga instructor, Adriene Mischler. Adriene’s yoga classes exude the kind of positivity that I am always seeking out for my own life, and I can only imagine much if not most of that is thanks to her commitment to yoga.

Photo Credit: daveynln / Flickr
Photo Credit: daveynln / Flickr

My own journey with yoga began back in the summer of 2004. At the time, I was in college and found out about a class called Yoga and Meditation that I could take for credit. I’d heard a bit about yoga, but wasn’t too familiar, so I figured i’d try it out. Little did I know that this class would change my life.

There were maybe 20 of us in the class, each with our rubber yoga mats, waiting to discover this ancient practice. Our teacher was an older woman with shiny blonde hair and a kind smile. Twice a week, she led us in our practice for an hour and fifteen minutes. We always began with several sun salutations, then shifted into warrior poses, triangle poses, and balance poses before retreating to do floor work. Throughout the class, soft music played in the background as she quietly walked among us, shifting our bodies into better postures and positions, her voice and hands softly guiding us. At the end, we would lay in shavasana (corpse pose) for at least 5 minutes, allowing us to absorb the practice fully.

Afterward, we would spend about 20 minutes in meditation, sometimes guided but often not. At times, we would chant hypnotic words we didn’t entirely know, yet somehow they felt completely natural after a while. Over a decade later, I am still seeking out the kind of harmony I often achieved during these in-depth classes.

Another portion of our classes was to read books that might inspire us to live more peaceful lives. One of them was Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. Another was Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. We would reach chapters and have group discussions, often times while taking walks outside. I actively listened and participated in these talks; taking in the wisdom of people from all walks of life. I suppose this is the closest thing to a spiritual retreat as I’ve ever experienced.

Photo Credit: Purple Sherbet Photography / Flickr
Photo Credit: Purple Sherbet Photography / Flickr

Since then, I have practiced yoga at home, from my memory of my first class as well as with videos. I’ve also dropped in on classes on occasion, when finances were steady and the timing was right. Yoga helped me during my pregnancy with Maggie; during my healing journey after she passed away; and throughout my difficult, high-stress pregnancy with William (I highly recommend starting or continuing a safe, prenatal yoga practice while pregnant).Yoga taught me how to breathe and how to clear my mind and how to stay calm. Despite all the other preparation work I did prior to giving birth to William, I know it was yoga that helped me through those 12 hours of labor.

If you’ve never practiced before or are unconvinced about why yoga is so wonderful, there are countless articles in magazines, journals, books, and online stating the powerful, often transformative benefits of yoga. Speak with anyone who has ever maintained a regular practice, and they’re more than likely to tell you how much it benefits their lives. From stress and anxiety reduction to improved flexibility and circulation to pain management, yoga’s benefits are numerous.

As a mother, it’s often difficult to find quiet, alone time for myself. Unless I wake up before dawn or stay up past midnight, I don’t always get to have time for myself. Between feeding, teaching, and playing with and cleaning up (after) my son, and feeding myself, and grocery shopping, and doing laundry, and organizing the house, and writing articles, and writing blog posts, there is little time for other things. But this morning, I decided to at the very least do some Desk Yoga. I’ve also been practicing yoga with my son (and by that I mean I attempt to have a normal practice while he runs around with noisy toys and tries to climb on me or crawl between my legs or tugs at my hair). It’s not the ideal situation, but I realized that unless I make the time (even if it isn’t as peaceful as I’d like), i’ll never do yoga. Plus, I’m hoping this begins to set a positive example so that he might want to practice when he’s a bit older (he’s already started copying my downward dog!)

My intention for the next six months is to simply keep at it. Sneak in some yoga while in bed or at my computer or while my son plays with his cars or anywhere, really. Have you started a regular practice yet? It’s never too late to start. Set some intentions from now through December and check back in with yourself then. You might find yourself getting closer to the life you want to live if you just start today.

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