Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Yoga: A Sort-Of Love Story

Yoga and I have had an on-again, off-again relationship for years. Almost nine years, to be precise. We first met in college, where yoga DVDs were sometimes waiting for me at afternoon practice, a welcome change from aqua-jogging or a second run of the day.
image from Amazon

Unfortunately, it wasn't love at first sight. Because that first yoga DVD was Denise Austin. If you need a video instructor who is beyond excited about yoga, Denise Austin is your girl. I mean, just look at the cover: even her pants are too excited about yoga. We joked that she must be on crack. Unkind, but apt. So I had no idea yoga was supposed to be calming.

As the years passed, the team got new DVDs and the experience improved. A more subdued video instructor made for a more relaxing practice, but I was still on the fence. More often than not, I was more sore after yoga than before, because I tried to stretch too far. Oh, Rodney Yee can bend like a pretzel? Watch this, Rodney. (Lesson: yoga is not a competitive sport).

But more and more, I kept feeling as if yoga was something I should do, and love. You don't have to look hard to find professional athletes from all kinds of sports shouting the praises of yoga, for strength, balance, injury prevention, rehabilitation, and relaxation. Why didn't I love it?

In grad school I found a class that met on the weekends, free at the campus gym. And that's when I started to enjoy it. But I wasn't consistent about it. If a better offer came along, I would ditch yoga in a heartbeat.

Fast forward to now: prenatal yoga. I had wanted to try it anyway, but when I read in Expecting Better that prenatal yoga has been demonstrated to aid in labor, I was sold. Fort Bliss offers a free class each week, and I've been going with an awesome group of ladies. It is relaxing (so relaxing), with the right amount of strength and balance poses, all modified for this growing, soon-to-be-in-the-way belly. And man, are there some bellies in the class. I'm inspired, and I hope I'm still at yoga class when I'm 38 weeks pregnant.

So I have fallen in love with yoga. Whether it will be a lasting relationship, or one that just gets me through this pregnancy, I can't yet say. Like every relationship, it has it's flaws. Yoga instructor jargon  makes me laugh: last week we were told to weave a golden thread with our breath. What?! But I feel both stronger and more relaxed when I leave class, in a way I don't find when I stretch on my own. I think I would stick with it even without the labor benefits. So our on-again, off-again relationship is on again for now.

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