by Laura Czys
So this concept of looking inward, inside out fitness, is a new twist for me. Maybe you’ll recognize yourself in some of this. Over break my back pain was acknowledged by E1. She hounded me to go to the doctor. She googled and used massage techniques that rivaled professional massages I’ve had. I listened. I went to the doctor and I signed up for a fundamentals yoga class at Amara Yoga.
Two of my friends (the buddy system—it really works!) signed on for a Saturday fundamentals session with Linda Lehovec. I didn’t do a lot of research other than I knew I was committing 2 hours of a Saturday to this. We arrived (five minutes to spare this time), and grabbed our equipment: a mat, a bolster, a blanket, 2 blocks, and a belt. At this point I had enough gear to go camping for the weekend. I hoped I wouldn’t regret it. I didn’t.
It was fantastic, so fantastic that we signed up for the second session the following Saturday—another 2 hour commitment. Linda was an excellent guide and I marvel at the divine in her! Her form cues, her corrections and the general pace of the classes were incredible. She made her way around a roomful of 15 or so people, providing personalized advice, encouraging us to go inward and listen to our bodies, calling many by name.
We practiced our form with the blocks at the wall. We worked with partners to help each other correct our alignment. This helped when we took it to the floor. And though I’ve done downward dog many times, this time felt different, better. For $25 you get the first fundamentals class and a week of free classes. For $10 more you get the second fundamentals class. The class schedule is posted online and there are a number of options for all fitness levels.
I realized after that first yoga class how much pain I had been in. I came home feeling so good, so pain-free. I don’t know about you but this seems to be a frequently recurring theme in my life, in many different forms—ignoring a problem, only to notice it in absence. What the heck??!!
After years of exercising, weighing the effects from the outside in, what a breath of fresh air to start from the inside out. “It starts and ends and is always present within the breath, ” says Joelle Walden, yoga devotee for 20 years and one of the many talented instructors at The Fitness Center. I asked Joelle to provide some insight to those new to the practice. She says, “When I first started practicing yoga, I was drawn to the physical aspects and didn’t think too much about what else there was to gain. Now, I realize that the “what else” is really at the core. If I was to pick one place as to where to start, it would be the breath. “
Some time ago I asked Joelle for a good yoga video to nudge me out of my fitness rut. She recommended anything by Rodney Yee. I found an AM/PM video at Target on sale for $9. It’s excellent, so excellent it spends most of the time borrowed by friends because it is a great introduction to yoga, very gentle. There are also some fantastic videos to check out from the library. And if you’re like me, trudging through the smart TV world, you can find some wonderful options on YouTube.
Monday night, warm and cozy in my family room, I tried out a YouTube video, “40 Minute Yoga Flow with Sadie”. It was an intense series, accompanied by my pup, Hope. While I was downward dogging, she was wrapping her little body around my head, sure the Kong in her mouth would entice me to play. It was more advanced but Sadie did provide some good modifications. Marvel at her divine when her feet go air-born in the crow pose. Another one I would give a bow to is “Yoga Flow 202”, a 30 minute series with waves crashing on the beach behind. It moves quickly through poses but is nice and easy to follow.
Whatever route you choose, I’d love to hear your yoga experiences. And maybe, if you’re tempted to try it out, keep Joelle’s further suggestions in mind–“When starting the physical postures, be kind to yourself and listen to your own body. It will be your guide. Let go of judgments, expectations and open yourself to awakening something deeper within you. Try shorter more frequent sessions like 20 minutes several times a week rather than once a week lengthy sessions.”
Yoga classes end with the heels of your hands at your heart, fingers pointing upward, heads bowed, Namaste is murmured. One person acknowledging the soul of another, the spark in each person.
Namaste, I recognize the divine in you. Do you?
Here are two Yoga workouts to try for free:
Laura Czys is a busy mom that finally found gainful employment, keeps searching for an extra hour in the day and is prone to kitchen dancing with the 3E’s. She rounds out the madness with Opie, the old cat and Hope Floats, the dog that launched these posts.