"It's hard to get used to that yogic idea that you're supposed to only work at about 80% of your capacity," my friend Jan who always gives 110% (if one could do that mathmatically speaking) said to me. She's fairly new to yoga but she's a convert.
"Oh," I responded, "No wonder I love yoga--I operate at about 75% on a good day so getting up to 80% isn't too hard."
That's just one of the many things I love about yoga. Yes, I've waxed poetically about it in an earlier blog but it's such an important part of my life that I feel the need to talk more about it.
Today, I will address all of you who are hard-charging, excercise-aholic kind of people who think yoga is not hard enough to do any good. Like my doctor who asked what I do for exercise--when I said yoga she said I needed to do some kind of strength training for my arms, like lifting cans of peas. What the fuh? I do handstands. When she gave me the exam and saw my very fit arms (if I do say so myself) she retracted her suggestion.
Yes, yoga doesn't feel hard but trust me it's an amazing workout. I've been doing it over three years now and my friends still ask me what I'm doing to stay in shape. They just can't believe you can stay in shape in the middle years (late 40's) just by doing yoga. But it's true. I practice three days a week. That's it. I don't run, I don't do cardio machines, I just do yoga.
The other thing about it is it's so, umm, spiritual. I don't want to scare away the atheists in the crowd but the meditative contemplative side of yoga is delightful. I know long-distance runners have a similar meditative thing going but running is way too hard. Did I mention I'm a 75% kind of gal?
Because of yoga I am much more able to be in the moment. I can sit through a church service and actually listen--I no longer make a mental ToDo list during the sermon. Yoga teaches you how to be "in the moment". Like the instructor at my yoga retreat said, "The mind is a time traveler--it's almost always in the future or the past, but the body is in the present." Yoga means"yoke"--bringing the two together-mind and body-- so we are always in the moment.
Because of yoga I can stop in the middle of a frantic day, sit down, and meditate for five minutes. At my physical this year the doctor told me my resting pulse is 67. That's a damn good rate--one a lot of athletes strive for. You will not see me surfing through my cell phone trying to find something to do when I have a moment of rest. I am perfectly content to sit in stillness with myself.
Yoga provides me with "functional" physical benefits. That means I can squat to wipe something on the floor and get up without grunting because of the strength yoga gives me. I can shave my legs in the shower without having to hold on to something because of the balance I've developed. I can turn my head (neck and spine) more than 180 degrees to watch for cars when I back the car up because of my flexibility. Flexibility also gives me the ability to do other things I can't mention because my mother reads my blog but let's say my husband is pleased. And just for fun, I can do tricks like stand on my head or balance on my arms. You should know, I was NOT the kind of kid who could ever do that stuff.
And let's not forget the very un-yogic benefits of yoga--a hot body. Yes, like no other activity I know, yoga sculpts every single part of your body, making your muscles long and smooth. I'm a half inch taller than when I started.
So, that's my yoga advertisement for the day. Get out there and get started. Give it some time. I did not like the upside-down stuff for at least a few weeks until my blood pressure learned to adjust. Try it twice a week for a month and see if you notice the back muscles starting to form like I did.
In yoga we like to say about all problems, "Take it to the mat" and I've gotten through some tough times and some tough days by taking my troubles to the mat. Everyone needs that.
As my sister said, "I don't know what all the questions are but I know that all the answers are yoga." She's right.
So take it to the mat. And when your life is transformed, please let me know.