What a Difference A Mat Makes

Since my return to yoga after a very traumatic experience, I’m finding more and more reasons to hang in there. I don’t know if it’s the focused breathing, the stretching, the small improvements I see in myself and my flexibility, or some combination of all those things and others, but I carry myself differently and my outlook is more positive and confident. I’m even actually caring about politics now, and that’s something totally new!

It took a long time to get where I am, to the point where when I go to bed at night, I’m actually really looking forward to yoga in the morning. I have to do it in the morning, or it doesn’t happen at all. I’m too tired after work to look forward to life on the mat, but maybe that will change, too. I’m even competing with my son in a light-hearted way about who can get their hands flat on the floor with straight legs first. Let me tell you, he’s been ridiculously flexible since childhood, so I have my work cut out for me.

I have this little routine where I do my writing after a cup of coffee with my husband early in the morning, then change into my yoga clothes (I only have one set), unroll my mat, turn the salt lamp on, grab my two trusty support pillows (I don’t have a block), and hit play on my video. For the next 20-30 minutes, I’m completely removed from the rest of the world. I turn off my phone, stop thinking about anything but the instructor’s words, and truly focus on my yoga. After months of trauma, I can’t tell you what an achievement that is.

When the video is done, it’s amazing and kind of disappointing how quickly I get up, roll up the mat and get on with the day. But I find that if I take too long in corpse pose, my mind begins to float back to things that bring stress or a sense of urgency. So today, when I’m done with my yoga, I’m going to switch the video to a Buddhist chanting video and focus on the sounds I hear. Maybe just for 10 minutes or so. I want to see how this affects my practice.

What do you do to after yoga? Are you right back into daily life, or do you take some more time for yourself? And which will make a difference in your day? I’m going to give this a shot for a few days and let you know how it goes. Looking forward to a healthier me through life on the yoga mat. (And yeah, that’s totally me in the picture…)

Community Yoga

In many communities around the country, people are getting together for an evening of, well, community. Stores stay open later, there’s live music in the streets, restaurants offer samples, art displays are everywhere, and unusual activities pop up on the streets. It’s called First Friday. Once a month, the focus of the evening downtown is on bringing people together. And it really works. Continue reading Community Yoga

The Many Faces of Yoga

You sign up for a yoga class at your gym only to discover it’s not what you expected. It’s 105 degrees and 40% humidity and you’re supposed to work out? Or maybe you’re a HIIT fan looking to try something new, so you join a yoga class only to find it’s mostly meditative and spiritual. There are many different faces of yoga; you just have to find one that reflects your own. Continue reading The Many Faces of Yoga

Yoga Help for Mental Illness

I know many people with mental illness. Several are in my own family. I’ve even struggled personally with Major Depressive Disorder. Mental illness is one of the most stigmatized illnesses in Western culture, yet it is no different than physical illness. There are treatments for physical illness and there are treatments for mental illness, but often the treatment focuses on only one isolated symptom. If you threw your back out, you get pain pills and physical therapy. But what caused your back to give? What’s at the root of the injury? You’re suffering from depression, so you get an SSRI to help elevate your mood and get your brain chemistry back in line. But where is the cause of your depression? Continue reading Yoga Help for Mental Illness