For the Love of Yoga

It’s been about six weeks since R and I joined our yoga studio and we are pretty much obsessed. I’ve been going five days a week: 2 pilates, 1 vinyasa class, 1 hot yoga class, and 1 yin and restore class. I’ve also added a 30-45 minute walking routine three days a week to make sure I get some cardio in. I was afraid that I would stop losing weight since I’m no longer doing Zumba (had to put my NYSC membership on hold in order to afford the yoga membership). Happily, I’ve discovered I was wrong. I’m down another six pounds!

I thought I’d break down the different types of classes to help anyone who might be interested in trying one out.

Pilates (at least the beginners class) involves all mat work, most of it lying on your back, focusing on working ¬†your core. The moves are not complicated, but they can be intense. Most classes also involve some planks, possibly push-ups, and leg work. I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my core strength and posture.

Vinyasa yoga involves moving from one pose to the next at a fairly rapid pace. This class has a lot of sun salutations built into it. Personally, it’s my favorite class of the bunch. I love the rhythm of the sequences and the various challenges each pose presents. We’ve been working on the beginning steps for a crow pose and I actually managed to get the first few steps down after a few classes! Seeing myself improve in even small ways makes me excited to go back for more.

Hot yoga is insane. I honestly dread going each week and then can’t stop talking about how great it was and how much I loved it afterwards. Last night I actually made it through the entire class for the first time! This class involves 26 poses that you hold for a certain amount of time while sweating like crazy in a 105 (F) degree room for 90 minutes. This class definitely challenges you mentally as well as physically.

Yin and restore is a great way to end the work week. Yin yoga is a cooling yoga that involves only floor poses in a cool room. Rather than working your muscles, you focus on deep poses which benefit the connective tissue and joints. This class has taught me some great stretches for my hip flexors and piriformis muscles. Each pose is held for 5 minutes or longer. It’s another class that can be intense and challenging, but I always leave feeling super relaxed and re-invigorated.

Aside from the physical benefits of gaining strength, becoming more flexible, and losing weight, I’ve definitely noticed more emotional/mental benefits as well. I’m more patient with myself and others. I’m not as quick to react to stressful situations. My quality of sleep has improved, and I’m just generally happier and more peaceful on a daily basis. R has noticed similar benefits as well.

I would strongly encourage anyone who is thinking of trying yoga to do so. It might take trying out a few different styles and teachers to figure out which is best for you. For example, R doesn’t like vinyasa at all even after trying a few teachers so I go to that one alone. Just make sure you tell the teacher that you are new before the class starts. He or she should be able to give you tips and modifications for any pose that is challenging for you. The most important thing to remember is that your practice isn’t about anyone else but you and what you can do in that moment. It’s not a competition. It’s just you doing something great for your body, mind, and spirit.

Moving Forward

Well, we all made it through Father’s Day just fine. I headed to my hometown for the weekend to get in some wedding planning with one of my brothers and his fiancee. On Sunday we were joined by our other brother for a quiet breakfast. We listened to Neil Young (one of dad’s favorites) on the drive, but that was pretty much the only reference made to this date from a year before.

Leading up to the weekend I was dreading how the day might be, but as it drew closer I noticed a sense of peace settling in. I thought about how this past year had been pretty trying, but the worst was behind us now. Once we made it through the first 365 days – through all the holidays and “firsts” without dad – we could move forward with a little more lightness and try to savor the memories instead of pushing them away. And so, on Father’s Day 2014 I actually felt a little bit of relief that we had all made it through intact and with things to look forward to (weddings, vacations, grad school, etc.). I think he would of been proud of all three of us for the way we handled everything. It feels like it will pretty much be all downhill from here. I am so, so grateful for that.