No I am not leaving my husband. The Doc has put up with me this long, so now he is stuck with me. Plus he sometimes cooks for me, something I have always enjoyed. Instead I have left my yoga instructor, which is a bit like leaving your hair dresser. There is loyalty and guilt involved.
Just over two years ago, I started doing yoga. I have written a couple of blogs in the past about my progress and what it has done for me. I am basically lazy in the mornings and don’t like structure, which meant that a scheduled class was not going to work for me, but I needed to take control and find something I could do to calm my constantly paining neck and shoulders. Too many years as a graphic designer huddled over a mouse while arching my neck towards a monitor, when I already had a curved spine to begin with, had taken a huge toll. Relying on therapists to fix me up had turned out to be short-term and expensive. So instead I searched online, typing yoga for neck and shoulders into Google. And that was the beginning.
What I found was Yoga with Adriene and she became my best friend every morning. She has her own web site and You Tube channel. What started as simple neck and shoulder exercises moved quickly to beginner yoga sessions and then more to basic everyday yoga sessions. I found several sessions that I liked a lot, which I saved so I could do them over and over again. Before I knew it I was feeling a whole lot better. Not just my neck and shoulders, my entire body.
To be clear, at my age, over sixty when I started, I did not want to become a contortionist. All I wanted was to become healthier. I did not want to go crazy and do things that would be silly for a women of my age to start doing, like standing on one foot when you have a curved spine. OK I have to admit that I did try that once… but only once. Then I just skipped over those parts of my session. I also wasn’t interested in spending my time on the mat meditating. I have plenty of other time to go blank. Believe me, that happens quite often without any help.
Two years in I discovered that I now know what I need to do to keep myself healthy. Adriene has taught me so much. I am comfortable with my version of all the basic yoga positions. I don’t fret about them not being perfect because she never expected them to be. Every body is different. Adriene’s yoga is more about the journey into each position not the appearance of the position. It is more about gaining confidence in yourself and your abilities to do your best on your own personal journey. What happened, one day out of the blue, was that I didn’t feel the need to wait for Adriene to tell me what to do.
My first yoga session without Adriene went so much better than I expected. I knew what I was doing. I was more focused because there wasn’t talking in the background. I was better because I wasn’t trying to keep track of what was going on in the video. My breathing settled into its own routine without me having to be reminded to take breaths. Adriene often reminded me and millions of others to breathe. Imagine forgetting to breathe. Yet I would.
At first, I was doing sessions that I had done so many times that they, along with Adriene’s voice, were permanently recorded in my brain. Then I started to choreograph my own sessions depending on what I wanted to focus on in the morning. This became very easy when I realized that I had the ability flow from one position to another with little forethought or planning. My sessions became spontaneous. Plus, for the sake of my arms and shoulders I tossed in a couple of small weights.
My routine is now my own. I don’t necessary do yoga everyday, but I do it about five times a week. Sometimes more. Sometimes less depending on what other activities are on my schedule for a particular day. I still have days that my neck and shoulders aren’t happy because they will never be one hundred percent. Wear, tear and age add up; and I am still a creature with some bad habits like occasionally reading on my phone or spending a bit too much time leaning over a jig saw puzzle. Habits that can happen without thought. When I screw up and do these things, I am responsible for dealing with the uncomfortable symptoms. Yoga helps me do that. Yoga has given me a life with more good days than bad ones. It has given me the control I need to move forward and enjoy my senior years. By going it on my own, I have taken full control. After all, I am a bit of a control freak.
Photo: Jenn Stone