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Needing Lazy Yoga

June 25, 2010
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Yoga has always been something that I wanted to do…one day. It’s something I imagined myself really enjoying…one day. Something I could practice regularly and grow through…one day.

I’ve been one daying for far too long.

When I was 21, in a motion to become more “healthy and sound,” I bought a yoga DVD from Target. When I returned home, I eagerly put the DVD in and stood in front of the television in my bedroom, decked out in my favorite pieces from my work out wardrobe. Ready to make a change and ready to try something new. I tried going through the poses with the hollywoodfied instructor one time. It wasn’t easy for me to stay calm and focused on my body, my breathing, and what I was supposed to be doing. I probably made it in about seven minutes before removing the DVD, feeling defeated and unqualified for this popular practice everyone else seemed to love.

I have no idea where the DVD is now.

When I first started my current job, I looked up some “Office Yoga” poses. Ways to breathe and form my body when things got stressful. I followed what the piece of paper printed out in front of me said. I tried. This worked about two times in the last two years. Then I decided that lying on the floor under my desk was a much better way to calm myself when I got stressed. This has worked about two hundred times in the last two years.

Since I’ve started living one healthy decision at a time, I’ve been inclined to try again.

A few months ago, after the ringing in of the new year and a declaration of my fabulous self, I decided to try a short morning yoga routine via YouTube. On my little netbook, on my living room floor, with the volume up as loud as it will go and yet it still not being loud enough. Not knowing the poses, I spent a lot of time moving my head out of whatever pose I was “doing” and looking at the screen. It felt good, but it never felt right. It felt like something I should try again, but I never have. It’s bookmarked. Maybe one day I will get there.

I’ve downloaded 3 Yoga Podcasts from Yoga Download. I’ve started the “Yoga for Runners” podcast about 17 times. Each time I get discouraged by the third pose because it’s hard for me to follow along and have to keep checking a pose guide, and I never feel like I’m doing it “right.” I know that this will get easier if I do it more often, but I also know that being frustrated by yoga is the opposite affect that should be taking place. So it remains on my list of things to do; “Master Yoga for Runners.” Or at least “Get to the forth pose on Yoga for Runners.” Ahem.

This winter I joined a gym and did a class challenge. I tried to take each class at least once. I went to one yoga class. It was just yoga – not hot yoga, not advanced yoga (clearly), not power yoga – just yoga. It was okay. I felt a bit outside of my body and not in a good way, necessarily. I felt like I couldn’t control my motions and that I was failing. My mind was wandering. I didn’t want to do yoga again. I didn’t want to feel that way again. I didn’t go back to yoga.

Earlier this week, I read Healthy Ashley’s declaration of 30 days of Yoga on her blog. I thought, “I will just do 10 minutes of child’s pose every night for 30 days. It will cleanse me and restore me.” I kind of thought of it as a joke. As if my dear friend Ashley would be doing some crazy Yoga poses I didn’t even know existed for 10 minutes, stretching and twisting and becoming one with the air. I pictured her defying gravity and reaching new levels of self. Of course, I would be rolled in a ball and on my living room floor, allowing myself to fall asleep.

I told her I was going to do it. I was going to do 10 minutes of child’s pose every night. I tweeted about it. I tried to make it into a point and laugh at myself joke. “Lazy Girl commits to napping via yoga every day for 30 days.” Hardy har har. “Wordy, Healthy Living blogger demonstrates sit-in on the floor of her own living room.” Or something.

The thing about point and laugh at myself jokes is that they often have a reverse effect.

There is this list in an old journal that reads “Reasons I will never get married.” The list is fairly long, and was written while I was in college. At my bachelorette weekend, my high school best friend turned Matron of Honor, Danielle, read the list aloud while other bridesmaids, including my sister, along with my mother, helped me to put together centerpieces for the reception tables. I was pointing and laughing at myself for such a silly list I wrote at such a cynical, bitter time in my life. We were all pointing and laughing at me, at the list, at youth.

Now I point and laugh at THAT girl. The one who was embarrassed by the list because she thought, “oh! how clearly foolish she must have been when she was younger.” I laughed at how I was trying to be so independent and un-settle-down-able. I laughed at how WRONG she was. Or was she?

When I pointed and laughed at myself for doing 10 minutes of “nap time yoga” each day, I didn’t realize how much I would NEED it. Because of the girls I pointed and laughed at. Because of the cynical list writer, and the bride. Both of whom, in hindsight, were just a scared woman learning to understand herself better, and trying to define herself in one way or another. Because of this, I need it.

As I start to write about and sort through the emotions of the last seven years I need it. I need it as I often find myself reliving some of the goodness- the memories of laughter, and love, and admiration. The accolade and the successes I found in various areas.

I need it as I relive some of the hard times. The painful situations I found myself in several years ago that for so long I pushed to the back of brain in order to move forward, trying to get past any wrong doings either done by me or to me. I need it as I finally take the time to sort through things I’ve avoided working through for years.

I need it as I start to understand myself better – who I was then, and who I am now- and the similarities and differences between the two girls I pointed and laughed at not that long ago. Along with the similarities and differences between those girls and who I am now.

After I declared 10 minutes of “lazy girl yoga” each day for 30 days, I started doing a bit more reading about yoga. I visited yogajournal.com and yogadownload.com and a few specific blogs who share their yoga journeys. I found myself becoming a bit more interested. And becoming a bit more intrigued, realizing that this may be something I need. Something to learn more about, in order to learn more about myself.

The last two nights I’ve done restorative poses. Child-Corpse-Ragdoll on Wednesday for 20 minutes. And 30 minutes of corpse Thursday night, before bed. It was like a pre-bedtime body nap. I sat on my living room floor, following the steps from yogajournal.com to get into the pose. I had to reread the paper several times to assure I was moving my body in the right way, in order to not move my body in the wrong way. It was awkward, but I kept on. I don’t want to just do these poses the way I would if I looked at a photo of someone else doing the poses. I want instruction. I want to lengthen my spine, and “narrow my hip points toward my navel” and “release the front of my shoulders” as necessary.

I don’t want to do Yoga for the sake of doing Yoga, you know? I don’t want to do yoga because everyone else is doing it. I don’t want to do yoga because it’s trendy and I recently saw an episode where Carrie and Samantha chat from mat to mat. I don’t want to do yoga because I “should” do yoga. I don’t want to do yoga because I really like yoga pants, even though I do REALLY like yoga pants. I want to do yoga to get something out of it: I want to do yoga with purpose. Several purposes. Probably even a few purposes I don’t even realize yet.

This morning I tried one sun salutation. Just one. Not rushed, but not slowed. Mountain to forward fold to plank to four limbed staff to upward dog to downward dog to mountain, again. It was awkward. It felt weird. I felt like if I was smaller, if I was fitter, it would be easier; but I know that’s not necessarily true. I know that if I keep seeking this out, then it will be easier. If I keep trying and learning and trying again, then it will be easier. If I keep going, keep growing, it will become easier. If I continue to accept myself for who I was before, who I am now, and who I am becoming, it will become easier.

Tonight, I will do one more pose. I will read over the instruction and tune into my body. I will find my center. I will quiet myself. I will lengthen and narrow and release. I will learn, without frustration and without fear, without definition. Forward. Namaste.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2010 9:54 am

    Good for you. If you learn easier from book and reading, let me know, I can recommend some awesome books for you from when I was in yoga teacher training.

  2. June 25, 2010 10:03 am

    I felt the same way when I first tried yoga about 4 years ago. I hated it! I didn’t find it relaxing at all and I thought the poses were uncomfortable! So I gave it up.

    But then I started it again recently becaues I thought it would help my running and found now I really do enjoy it. It makes me feel strong and I always feel great afterward.

    I have yet to try the podcasts, but I usually do Namaste Yoga from FIT TV, and its really great.

  3. June 25, 2010 10:05 am

    I feel the exact same way about those videos. I have now taken a total of 3 yoga classes this summer, and have gotten to know a couple of poses. Its coming slow, but its coming.

    I would highly recommend you find a yoga studio in your area to take some classes at. I took some yoga classes at the SERF in college, and in my experience, they just lack the zen and relaxation that yoga studios do. It was all very fast, and about “exercising” more than getting in tune with your body, lengthening, stretching, etc – what yoga is really about.

    When I started doing pilates at a studio at the beginning of the year, it was SO different than a gym. It was like a community of people of all ages and sizes that were there to figure out how they can make pilates work for them. Everyone was friendly and encouraging, and everyone wanted to help me be successful. Now, the downside to these more personalized studios is the $$$ that you have to spend. However, A lot of studios around here offer a free class, or packages with discounted rates. The atmosphere of the “studio” vs. the “gym” is SO different, and, I think, worth a little bit of extra money.

    🙂

  4. gramshugs permalink
    June 25, 2010 2:00 pm

    all that you have done for YOU is AMAZING !!!!!!!! love you, gram

  5. Liz permalink
    June 25, 2010 3:02 pm

    I love yoga and it honestly does take awhile for many people to produce the desired effects, but once it does there’s no going back 🙂

  6. June 25, 2010 6:09 pm

    Amazing post! I think the way you are approaching yoga is just right. Take one pose at a time. Do it for you. I wrote a post about being a beginner recently. Sometimes it’s really discouraging. But then I thought to myself, being a beginner is a good thing. If we are never “a beginner”, it means we aren’t trying anything new. And that would boring. Keep doing what you’re doing! (That includes inspiring all of us with your brilliantly honest writing skills!) Namaste. 😉

  7. June 25, 2010 11:10 pm

    I love this post, Heather!! I could feel you through the words you wrote! I remember hearing about yoga and thinking what is the BFD?? I remember thinking…why do I need to take a class to learn how to stretch? I honestly never watched a video, read a “how-to,” or really even thought about trying it out…Until, a friend of mine in Charlotte told me about the hot-yoga classes she went to and how amazing they were. I trusted her opinion and just dove right in. I was scared that it would be too advanced…I was scared I would look like a fool…I was scared I wouldn’t look good in yoga pants!! But I went…and loved it. Completely! It was amazing. I had never shed a pool of sweat before. I had never honored my body in that way before. I had never been in a room with 40 other people, getting a little too close for comfort, sweating their brains out. It rocked and I went back, again + again. I would have gone more if I could have afforded more classes. I haven’t practiced yoga for years…I haven’t practiced yoga everyday, but when I do, I love it…when I give it my full attention that is. I highly suggest going to a real yoga studio and taking a few beginner classes. It doesn’t have to be hot yoga, or bikram, or vinyasa or anything..just yoga at a real studio. It makes such a difference! Now, jobless, not able to afford a yoga studio…I most frequently use the yoga download 30min for runners routine. Even after practicing yoga for awhile, it took me awhile to figure out the poses…yes, it was awkward at first! But with my yoga studio knowledge and looking at the pose guide it got easier. Many days..many weeks I forget to do yoga..but when I do, do it…I always wonder why I don’t do it more often. Today I did Poly’s 10min Yoga For Runners after a 15mile bike ride and there I was again back in love with yoga…we’ll see if I can keep it up for 30 days!! And booooyah for writing you a nice long comment! Moral of the story…get your bootay to a yoga studio to get more comfortable with moving your body…looking at other people doing poses correctly and having the teachers help you will make such a difference!! Good luck! xo

  8. June 26, 2010 6:39 pm

    I never thought about committing to Ashley’s 30 days of yoga because… well I just couldn’t commit. When I read you saying that you committed to doing child’s pose for 10 minutes a day, I thought “divine”! Seriously, that sounds like the most perfect thing for my racing mind. I might… might just give this a try.

  9. June 26, 2010 10:41 pm

    I may or may not have written my comment after a few glasses of wine……ramble much?

  10. June 27, 2010 10:57 am

    I am overweight but in love with what yoga does with my MIND.It has helped me out with stress etc sooo much this last year.
    For me, I had to try a few diff studios and classes to find what was good for ME. I found doing it at home was not helpful because I really needed guidance from a teacher and the focus of being in a group(note:I hate group things so this was and is a challenge for me!)
    I discovered hot yoga (NOT Bikram-blech!)was what made me release my stress through all the sweat from the heat and helps me through my day.You should try it!
    Unfortunately sometimes people don’t find the right class/style/teacher for them and that turns them off trying classes.

    I reaaaally hope you will try some classes soon at a yoga studio(not at a gym!)

    It has helped me through the worst of days,and I even am getting over the fact that there are slim young things all around me….cause yoga is about discovering what’s inside of you,not your neighbour….

  11. June 28, 2010 10:06 am

    I just started doing yoga again a few weeks ago – and I felt really awkward at first!

    All of the poses were hard, even the modified ones! And I felt like I “wasn’t really doing yoga” if I had to modify everything. But after only 3 or 4 weeks I already notice a difference! (And I was only doing 1 or 2 workouts each week…until Ashley’s challenge that is…now I’ll slip in the 10 min on days I’m not doing a full-on yoga session.)

    Anyhow – I’m amazed a how FAST I am seeing improvement! Before you know it you’ll be seeing it too! I still need to modify many of the poses, but it just feels “more right” now.

    And seriously – no shame in doing 10 min of childs pose or corpse pose if you ask me! We could all use a bit of relaxation like that every day!

  12. Stephanie permalink
    June 28, 2010 11:14 am

    Don’t worry about feeling awkward. Every pose feels awkward at the beginning. I learned when I first started that I really needed to like the instructor in order to have a good session, and that’s included podcasts and videos. Right now, I really like Jason Crandall (on Yogajournal.com) and Chad Rough (Yogamazing podcast on iTunes). Both are relaxing and they show different levels of poses and corrections. And they give verbal clues as to how you can feel your way into the right pose.

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