Patricia L. Fitzgerald 2013-02-28 04:42:18
Thoughts From a Peaceful Warrior I like to-do lists. I set goals. I make resolutions. I track my progress and stay accountable with checkmarks, spreadsheets and “Ta Da!” lists. I share my plans and efforts with close friends and family. These can be highly effective aids in what I like to call “life management.” But sometimes, they weigh me down. It’s pretty easy for me to get caught up in what is left “undone” than what has been achieved. And this particular example of self-awareness is one reason that I really, really like yoga. The number of Americans who practice yoga today has skyrocketed a whopping 30% in the last four years, to a total of 20.4 million adults, according to survey results released by Yoga Journal. Even with some inflation in these numbers, the recent popularity and growth of yoga is evident in communities all across the country. I first discovered yoga more than a decade ago, but after the eventual dissolution of my original class, I struggled for a few years to find a replacement that was the right fit, eventually giving up. After all, I don’t have the stereotypical yoga body, and feeling self-conscious about being able to keep up tends to undercut the benefits of the practice. But there seems to be an increased availability in “niche” classes, not just for beginners, but people with curvy bodies, back problems, disabilities—even pregnant women and kids! In 2011, I found a great instructor and now prioritize class twice every week. I love yoga for a number of reasons. I’m improving my strength, exibility and balance; these physical attributes start to fade when you’re my age, unless you work at them. Even though I don’t do “hot” or “power” yoga, most classes still raise my heart rate and I break a sweat, so it’s good exercise, too. But, ultimately, it’s the single-best activity to quiet my mind. The practice typically starts and ends calmly, as we are encouraged to slow our racing thoughts and focus simply on breathing—in and out, in and out. This carries throughout the hour: “Inhale, arms up, forward fold as you exhale….Twist left, inhale and hold, exhale as you return to center.” And, like magic, I’m not thinking about my to-do list, my goals or what I need to finish or start. I’m just thinking about the pose, the stretch, my breathing—and, yes, sometimes, the “oh-I’m-feeling-the-burn-how-much-longer-are-we-going-to-holdthis- position?” But even that is always mitigated by the tradition of several minutes of quiet rest at the very end. Best yet? This peace of mind holds after class is over. I always return home feeling refreshed and focused, and ultimately, much more capable of tackling that next goal effectively. Even if you’re feeling skeptical about yoga being right for you , I encourage you to sample a beginner’s class. Go ahead and add it to your to-do list!
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://mydigimag.rrd.com/article/First+Word/1330057/148692/article.html.