Friday, July 27, 2012

Yoga and My Judgmental Mind

I used to practice yoga on a regular basis.  I had a regular teacher with whom I practiced and I followed her to wherever she taught, until she moved to California, that is.  After that I had a difficult time finding a yoga instructor with whom I had such a great connection.  Yoga was just coming back in fashion, so to speak.  There were yoga classes at gyms but I found them to be irritating and not at all satisfying.  I ended up doing my yoga in the comfort of my home with tapes (am I dating myself yet?) and then DVDs.


Fast forward several years, I completely loved prenatal yoga and kind of liked the Mommy & Me yoga.  I did yoga after I had Lilly to help get those poor, post-cesarean abs back into action.  I would do downward facing dog with Lilly laying between my hands.  I could stay in that pose for hours if it meant looking into those deep brown eyes.  Life got a little busy, what with grad school and then back to working full time out of the home.  Yoga was pushed to the side.


When my hands were starting to get really bad about 2 years ago, yoga became nearly impossible because my hands hurt and were numb.  I had pain radiating up to my shoulder and I could not hold myself up in a pose like downward facing dog any longer.  I would sometimes try to do a DVD and work around poses that I could not do, but I felt defeated.  I had the surgeries (bilateral carpal tunnel release) a little over 1 year ago.  I am just now able to put some pressure on those hands in that way.  In the past year I have also had some foot issues.  And, to top it all off, I have gained weight.  


Where am I going with this?  Back to yoga.  Truthfully, I probably could have been doing some yoga in the past 6-8 months, which is when my hand stopped hurting that much.  I have a fabulous yoga studio around the corner from me, literally within walking distance, and I don't make the time or the money to go.  I think I was afraid.  A few times I had started to do a DVD or an on demand yoga workout and I could barely get through the first few minutes, let alone a 40 minute workout.  I wanted to be doing the kind of yoga I did 15 years ago.


I have been chatting with the yoga instructor at camp and I happened to mention my back pain.  (old car accident)  She has gently suggested yoga and I said that I know I should and that I love yoga.  My mom has even suggested I get back to yoga many times.  So tonight I did it.  I asked Vin if I could take over the living room for  a bit so that I could do some yoga.  I found a Gentle Yoga workout on demand.  I was tempted to try another work out....power yoga or strengthening yoga.  But I thought that maybe I needed to start with baby steps.  


Within seconds of starting it, I was judging myself.   I used to be able to do this and more.  I used to be able to do shoulder stands.  You're too fat to do this.  If only I had continued.  If only I had started again sooner.  And then I heard the instructor remind the viewer (me) to release any judgement of where you are from your mind.  Wherever you are is where you are.  It is not how far you are stretching up/down/to the side, but are you aligned?  Are you lengthening your spine?  A few times she asked us to lay there and think about how we feel without judging it.  My mind is a freaking chatterbox when given the opportunity.  I was this close to yelling at myself out loud.   I really had to constantly remind myself that it is okay that I am not doing shoulder stands or hanging out in downward dog for 5 minutes at a stretch.  It is okay that I cannot do what I could do 4 years ago or 6 years ago or 10 years ago.  


It is okay that I am overweight. Why?  Because I should not be judging myself on how much I weigh. Should I be taking better care of myself and my body?  You bet.  And I have been moving in that direction.  Slowly but surely I will get to a place where I am happy AND the weight that I want to be.  But until then, I need to be happy with me.  


When I was able to let go of the negative thoughts and actually FEEL my body, I could feel positive things going on inside.  Things that lead me to believe that I can get to a point of wellness.  When I was gentle with myself, my body responded more to my requests.  When I was not berating myself and when I was open, my body opened.  It was almost as if it remembered, too, what regular yoga could do for it.  But my body remembered in a nice way, not the judgmental way of my mind.  It was telling me, and my muscles and joints, to take it slowly, but surely and most importantly...to do it.  

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