Pfft, yoga. I’m NOT doing yoga. I’m not doing all that stretchy crap and “om shit.” And those women who take yoga? Ew. Not me. They’re into all that organic stuff and Buddha and Lululemon and they only drink Voss water and they will NEVER want to associate with someone like ME!
I’ve been a gym rat since I was 15. My high school basketball coach got my teammates and I started on a weight training program back in the 80s, which was kind of revolutionary for back then. I started on Nautilus equipment for a time and then eventually moved to free weights (Big Girl Toys!). But I was hooked from that first workout.
Over the years, I got more set in my weighted ways, and I got more and more engrossed in lifting, challenging myself to move heavy weights that most women (and most men, probably) even half my age couldn’t move.
My ego started to take over as I became more fixated on the poundage that I could lift rather than how my body felt or how it responded to the weights I was lifting.
Over time, I was finding that my body, especially my back and hips, were incredibly achy. At just over 40 years old, I was having a hard time getting out of bed.
But this continued for quite some time. I’d ignore the pain and just pound the weights.
Until I couldn’t anymore.
A friend dragged my ass to yoga one day.
At first, I resisted, thinking all of the aforementioned.
I attend a restorative yoga class taught by Kerry Bestwick at PYP Studio.
Talk about disspelling every single myth I believed about yoga.
First of all, it’s not “om-y.” I don’t sit there, humming and praying to the spirits or gods or whatever.
Restorative yoga is more about, well, restoration. Yes, it’s stretchy, but it focuses on lengthening my achy body parts. When I leave there, I feel like I’ve given myself a massage.
Second of all, “these women” ARE just like me. They each have a story– some of them a very painful one. Maybe some prefer organic foods and some wear Lululemon, but so what? I’ll eat organic foods, I’m just not attached to them. And I’m a Nike and UnderArmor whore, so what’s the difference? Maybe one costs more than the other, but who cares? I’m still a label freak. Maybe not one of my finer qualities, but hey– we all have our vices. And I’ve not seen a single bottle of Voss. Instead, everyone, just like me, brings in their plastic RubberMaid bottle that they probably found on sale, just like me, at the grocery store.
And yes, “these women” associate with the little old likes of me. In fact, after a few months’ hiatus, a number of women– and the teachers– were so welcoming when I’d returned. Many remember my name and have asked how I am doing. They show an interest.
Not only have the myths been dispelled but the benefits I have acquired have been insurmountable. The poses have even helped with my lifting, as my hips have loosened, thus improving my ability to squat and deadlift.
But perhaps even overshadowing ALL of that is how yoga has impacted my mind. Kerry is an exceptional “therapist” as yoga instructor. When she puts us through the poses, she talks to us. I’m sure there’s some yoga word to describe what she’s doing, but in my terminology, she simply offers a healing sermon or lecture or talk. I don’t even know what to call it, actually. But she calms me down. She helps me to stop, breathe, and remember that all I can control is my breath. She helps me to focus, to see the bigger picture, to not get so fixated on the minutiae of daily life. Her practice has been integral to my own healing– both physically and mentally.
I still don’t know what an “asana” is, and I don’t know who the Yoga Gods are, and I always thought my Third Eye was Blind (hehehe), but I do know this: change is good. It’s good to challenge your preconceived notions. It’s good to keep an open mind about things you don’t understand. I can still hit the weights, but adding yoga is just as strengthening.