Moving my body really makes a difference in how light I feel, both physically and mentally. I have several ways that I like to move (i.e. exercise), and yoga is one of them.
Human bodies were meant to move. We’re made with all these amazing joints and tendons and muscles and bones. And they give us the most amazing range of motion. This ability allows us to move in some pretty amazing ways. The Winter Olympics are coming up, as a case in point.
I find that when I don’t move much, I feel lousy. If my bum spends too much time in a chair, my mind gets fuzzy, my body gets stiff, and my mood gets dark. Very dark.
Which is why movement is one of the big ways I help myself to feel lighter. And one of the most beautiful things about movement, is that I can choose how I want to move! Meaning, I can choose what form of exercise I do. Though, there is something about the word “exercise” that has such a negative connotation to it. Ick. I don’t want to “exercise”… I just want to move my amazingly movable body!
Now, I’m not a skier. I’m terrified of flying down a snowy hillside at high speeds. On the rare occasion when I have gone skiing, I see how long I can take to go down the bunny hill. Seriously. And I’m not a runner. I find running monotonous and jarring. And my whole life, whenever I’ve tried to play a sport (think basketball, soccer, volleyball, etc.) I get told that I look like I’m trying to dance. Well, I’m a dancer… So, although I’ve tried lots of ways to move in my 40+ years, there are just a few that are my movements of choice.
One of them, is yoga.
I only discovered yoga about 10 years ago. But we’ve been fast friends ever since. Here are just a few reasons why I love to move my body through yoga:
- It stretches every muscle. When I really move through a good flow of yoga poses, I get to stretch pretty much all of the muscles in my body. And especially after sitting at a computer, or driving in a car, or anything else that tightens up my body, stretching everything out feels so good!
- It develops strength. Holding the poses builds muscle throughout the whole body. I especially like how it strengthens my core and helps me feel so much more able and capable to take on the strength-needing tasks of my everyday (twins, anyone?)
- It reconnects me to my body. During a busy day, when my mind is in a million places, I get a little disconnected from my body. I just expect it to do what I need, without really thinking about it. But when I get on the yoga mat and direct my mind to focus on my body, I reconnect. And that gets me more in tune with my own mechanism and how it’s doing.
- It clears my mind. When my mind is focusing on my body’s movement, it’s not thinking about those millions of things usually ping-ponging around in my head. All those other thoughts quietly drift off into the periphery and for just a little while, it’s deliciously silent.
While I did go to a yoga studio for several years, these days my yoga mat is rolled out in my home. Having learned the yoga poses, I personally prefer to just direct myself. (I know, this says way too much about how I like to do things my own way…) But really, when I’m in a class, I have to follow what the instructor is telling us to do. But when I’m at home, I can move how my body wants to move.
Want a quick run-down of my yoga practice? Here’s what I do.
First, I get into comfy clothing. Yoga pants, leggings, t-shirt, whatever moves well and doesn’t have any metal/plastic parts. And I don’t wear anything on my feet.
Second, I turn down the light in my room and turn on my salt lamp. Often I will turn on my essential oil diffuser, but not always.
Third, I turn on some music. There are several music apps that have stations like, “spa music” that are perfect for doing yoga.
Fourth, I roll out my mat (I happen to have hardwood floors in my bedroom and enough room for a mat plus a little more.)
Fifth, I move. Usually I take a few minutes in either mountain pose or a seated pose and just breathe. I take this time to clear my mind and connect with my body. I check in and see where I hurt, or where I feel stiff, or just generally scan my body and see how it’s doing. And then I start to move. I choose poses based on what my body needs. When I feel like I’m done, I’ll find a seated pose and just breathe again until I’m ready to go back to life!
Namaste… Did you know that this word, often said at the close of a yoga session means (loosely translated) “The light in me sees the light in you.” I love this idea.
Right now, the best time for me to do yoga is after I get the boys in bed. At the end of the day, it’s a perfect way to unwind, stretch out, and calm down. Often 30 minutes is all I need. And I don’t do it every evening either. I usually alternate it with one of the other types of movement I enjoy (which will more than likely be referenced in other posts…)
If you haven’t tried yoga before, I would suggest going to a class to learn the poses, as well as the correct body form to prevent injury and promote strength. Another possibility is watching videos on-line. There are several excellent people to watch. And of course, as with all physical movement, follow the advice of your medical professional, and always listen to your body.
Moving this marvelous body that I’ve been blessed with is one of the most beautiful gifts of being a human. The lightness that movement brings to my body and mind is worth taking the time to move in some way. Everyone gets to choose how they most enjoy moving. For me… well… you’ll find me on my yoga mat.
What movement lights you up?
p.s. I know the picture above is not a pose in the Sun Salutation. It’s Warrior II. But it’s one of the few pictures I happen to have of me in a yoga pose. Maybe I’ll get a Sun Salutation picture in front of a rising sun one of these days… Hmmm… life goals…