Sometimes You’ve Gotta Slow Down

April 21, 2009 at 8:12 pm Leave a comment

The building where most of our classes were held

The building where most of our classes were held

I used to think yoga was for other people. I mean, I’m a pretty chill person, but the moment I’m instructed to sit cross-legged, close my eyes and steady my breathing while thinking about :nothing:, I become a crazed weasel in desperate need of Ritalin. My inner monologue usually goes something like this:

“Okay, you can do this. Just don’t think about anything.”
“But by thinking about not thinking about anything, I’m thinking about something. I’m already doing it wrong!”
“Just breathe in and breathe out. Look at the darkness behind your eyelids.”
“My ankles are starting to fall asleep. Maybe I’m sitting wrong?”
“Madonna does yoga all the time and looks great. Focus!”
“I can smell my fabric softener. I have so much laundry to do when I get home. Wait, did I get quarters at the bank last week?”

And so on and so forth. None of that happens, though, when I’m running or sweating it out in a challenging class. “Moving meditation” is what some people call that kind of body-in-motion, mind-in-relaxation state. So I was happy to consider myself a moving meditator and, well, move on — leaving that regular meditating to eat my dust.

But if 31 years on this planet has taught me anything, it’s that I’m frequently wrong. After having a good time at some Bikram yoga classes earlier this year, I attended the Women’s Yoga & Music Retreat at Silver Lake Conference Center in Connecticut this past weekend. I knew the yoga would be a lot different from the sweaty, heart-pumping kind I’m used to. But the weekend was held at the camp where I used to spend my summers as a kid, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Even if I hated it, at least I could get some hiking in.

Getting ready for vinyasa yoga on Saturday morning

Getting ready for vinyasa yoga on Saturday morning

Ladies, let me tell ya: I got a re-education real quick. I spent a very relaxing, very active weekend with some awesome women who were all about yoga as a way to reconnect with themselves. I stretched, I danced, I held poses and felt my biceps sing with the effort. It was work but it was fun, and it forced me to slow down and breathe. My mind still wandered at times during class, but much less so than in the past. And that calmer feeling? It was pretty nice.

I’m still not a 100-percent yogaphile. Some of the vocab is a little too “Kumbayah” for me, and I still really love to sweat and feel my heart thud against my ribs. But I’m open to taking more classes, especially if they leave me feeling as limber as I do today. And I’m begging you to try a yoga or Pilates class, especially if you think that it’s definitely not the thing for you. Come on, cardio queens: Give yourself an hour of slow stretching and strength work. Your body — and your spirit — will thank you.

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