I have been doing yoga on and off for almost 20 years.
No… I’m only in my thirties, so that must be wrong. But no, I wasn’t able to drive when I attended my first yoga class – my mother drove me! So yes, that would be about 20 years ago. Sigh.
Well back to my point – I’ve been doing yoga on and off for a LONG time. I’ve tried several different types but unfortunately nothing really stuck much. It was a lot like any other exercise, forced. I had to remind myself constantly of the emotional and physical health benefits, even if I wasn’t seeing them. But all in all I kept coming back to it because it just seemed better than anything else. I think the main problem is that I would get bored before I could see results. And also, it was hard. Yes, for those of you who’ve never done it, it IS hard, if you do it the right way. I thank my very first yoga instructor for teaching me the correct way to breathe through poses, which truly does intensify the pose and make your muscles work harder. But, I would give up before ever hitting that sweet spot. Last year though, I had an ah-ha moment and it changed everything.
It was mid June and I was 4-5 months pregnant and had been hit with my second round of a terrible head cold and a sinus infection. If you’ve ever had a sinus infection you know how awful they are so just exaggerate that a little due to being pregnant. And this was the second time! I felt like I had just gotten over my first one that knocked me out in April (another story…). So I was not only dead on my feet but I was angry. WHY was this happening to me? My first two pregnancies didn’t do this to me and back then I was working full time. This time around I wasn’t working, just hanging out with my kiddos at home. Granted we had just bought a house, gutted it, and were in the middle of a complete remodel, while living there. So yes life was a bit stressful, but I was drinking tons of water, eating well and taking my vitamins daily. There was no reason to be getting so sick back to back. Well it turns out that stress can be worse on our bodies and immune systems than anything else. My OB told me that no matter how well I ate and how many vitamins I took, if I was living in a state of constant stress my body was going to take a hit. She told me to stop doing whatever it was that was stressing me out so much! Whoops! Too late to give back the house, right? And since we were doing it ourselves on a tight budget, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about my living situation – except exercise. That was the only thing missing in my prenatal healthy habits pyramid. So with rolling eyes I googled “prenatal yoga” and found oneOeight.
I really think it was divine intervention because it doesn’t pull up on my google search automatically so it’s a mystery as to how I stumbled upon it that day. But I pulled up a few of their prenatal classes and instantly fell in love. These classes were very slow but intentional and I felt completely amazing after that first class, and slept better that night than I had in months! What I learned in the next few months doing that simple, slow yet intentional class over and over is that yoga doesn’t HAVE to be hard! It can be easy, it can feel good, it can be more stretchy than strengthy, and still have huge benefits. My muscles were relaxing, elongating and being worked yet it didn’t feel that way because I wasn’t doing anything that seemed hard. Because I was so pregnant, I focused more on the breathing aspect. When I would find myself pushing my limits and starting to focus on gaining strength, I would actually finish my session less relaxed and less satisfied. But when I focused on my breathing and just stretched to feel good I would end my session feeling renewed. I kept doing it almost every day for the rest of my pregnancy not only did I stop getting sick, but I was sleeping better and had more energy throughout the day even into my 9th month. While I was on my postpartum yoga break I found my body craving the slow simple stretches that were so relaxing and so when the time was right I started back up. Not doing regular yoga classes, but back to that same prenatal class. I do chuckle every time the instructor asks to “really listen to your body and your baby” but then I get that great back stretch and decide I don’t care!
I think I’ve finally found that yoga sweet spot.