Happy New Year!
In an attempt to keep things fresh, relevant, and fun (for me . . . and maybe for you, too), I'm going to be making a few changes here on the blog over the next few months. Nothing drastic (although you never know . . . ). Just different. Change is good, y'know?
On Mondays I'll still . . .
but not every Monday.
Just some Mondays.
And it'll be just a little bit different.
"Change only happens in the present moment. The past is already done. The future is just energy and intention."
--- Kino McGregor
So here we are, at the beginning of a new year. A time when many of us make resolutions or goals or intentions for how we want to move forward in the new year. And I know a lot of those resolutions or goals or intentions have something to do with . . . moving more. Getting stronger. Improving our balance and flexibility. Working on our fitness.
Maybe even . . . trying yoga.
So today, I'm going to Start Your Engines with some yoga talk. Because if there's one thing that revs me up and gets me moving, it's yoga!
I've been doing yoga for a long, long time. I actually credit yoga with . . . saving my life. WHUT? Yeah. I do. If not for yoga, I doubt I'd be doing most of the things I do today.
I don't talk about it much, generally, and I think I've only mentioned it once or twice here on the blog, but I have rheumatoid arthritis. I was diagnosed with it shortly after Erin was born, and it took a while before we got it under control and I could move again without pain. Of course, some of my joints are completely trashed now (both wrists - and especially the right one, and one of my knees), but thanks to a combination of good medical care, new drugs, a decent attitude, and commitment to moving every day . . . here I am . . . 30 years later and still able to do (pretty much) anything I want to do!
At a time when I could barely lift my arms over my head (let along think about sitting on the floor), my rheumatologist suggested I try . . . yoga. I thought he was nuts. I had done yoga before my RA diagnosis, so I really couldn't imagine it would be possible again. But I gave it a try. It was really hard at first. I took it slowly, though, and kept at it. Before long . . . I was moving easier and feeling better. My flexibility increased; my pain decreased. I got more confident about moving again, and I saw how important a regular and consistent commitment to moving (even when it didn't feel so great) was for my body. It changed me; it saved my life!
So . . . I am totally committed to practicing yoga.
Yoga offers so many benefits. Gentle movement is good for your joints. It builds strength - and especially core strength. It improves balance and flexibility. It makes a mind-body connection, which is helpful for reducing stress. It can offer spiritual growth/self-actualization if that's your jam. It is a great thing to do at any age -- but it is particularly beneficial for aging bodies. And more recent studies are showing it can even help reduce brain shrinkage, which is a huge benefit. (I've included a link to a Psychology Today article in the "curated resources" section below.)
Before the pandemic, I went to studio yoga classes once or twice a week. I did stretches and sun salutations at home every day, but mostly my yoga was studio-based. The pandemic changed all that, of course, and I had to scramble to figure out an at-home way to do yoga. I tried a few for-pay online based yoga programs (they often offer "free trial" periods), finally making my way to Yoga With Adriene. And there it was: My new at-home yoga "studio." Now, I do yoga every day, and I love it. (This is one of my pandemic silver linings.)
I know a lot of you are already familiar with Adriene, but for those of you who aren't . . . here are a few things to know: First, Adriene offers a huge and ever-expanding catalog of classes for free through her YouTube channel. Next, each month Adriene pulls together a collection of her classes organized around a "theme" and publishes a calendar with links to the daily classes. Again, free. And then, each January Adriene offers a brand new 30-day yoga series featuring all-new classes suitable for every level of yogi. And, again . . . free. (There is a for-pay subscription option, where subscribers get access to Adriene's Find What Feels Good app and a few other subscriber-only goodies. I have chosen this option after enjoying her classes for a couple of months. I feel like what she's offering is worth my financial support. But the fact that her classes are offered free - and ad-free - is just . . . amazing.)
I know several of you are thinking about giving Adriene's online yoga a try. Or maybe you haven't really given it a thought before. But today, I'd like to give you that little friendly nudge - to Start Your Engines and . . . Try it!
Right now, Adriene is offering a brand new 30-day yoga series called Breath. It's free. It's YouTube based. It's for every body. It's for YOU. (Click here for more information or to sign up for daily email reminders.) It's a great way to stick your toe into this whole yoga thing . . . or, if you're already a yoga-person, it's a great immersion into yoga breath technique.
"Yoga is not for the flexible. It's for the willing."
If you're thinking it's too late now because you missed the first days . . .
I say . . . Nope. Your "day 1" can be any day you choose! Who says you have to start on January 1?
If you're thinking 30 days is just too much. . .
I say . . . No worries! No one says you have to do 30 days in a row. You can set your own yoga schedule and spread the days out however you want.
If you're thinking your body isn't a "yoga body". . .
I say . . . Every body is a "yoga body." (Even if arthritis has trashed your joints.)
If you're thinking you aren't "flexible enough" for yoga . . .
I say . . . We do yoga to become more flexible, not because we're already flexible.
If you're thinking you don't have the right clothes or equipment to do yoga . . .
I say . . . Got sweat pants? Got a t-shirt? A yoga mat is helpful, but you can just do yoga on your floor if you want.
If you're thinking you can't do those moves . . .
I say . . . Yeah, at first very few people can. But if you keep at it for 30 days, you'll be amazed at what you'll be able to do! And Adriene suggests modifications, so yoga can work for everyone.
So, what do you think? Have I convinced you?
Are you ready to roll out your mat and give yoga a try?
Start YOUR Engines . . . and c'mon along.
"The body benefits from the movement, and the mind benefits from stillness."
--- Sakyong Mipham
For further exploration, check out my Curated Resource List:
- The New York Times Magazine recently featured Adriene in a weekend profile. Click here to learn more about Adriene (and her dog, Benji).
- Wondering about the health benefits of yoga (physical and mental health), including that reducing-brain-shrinkage issue I mentioned earlier? Click here for a brief article from Psychology Today.
- Need to do a little myth-busting to help you get started? Click here for a realistic explanation of yoga practices and challenge those myths!
- Don't think your joints can take it? Click here to check out YogaJellies. YogaJellies are special silicone pads you can use to support your wrists (or knees) during yoga. I use them for every practice, and they've been a game-changer for me! (You can see mine in the photo above.)
- Interested in a catalog of yoga poses? Click here for a handy, sortable library of poses.
- Have trouble believing that yoga is for everybody? Just check out Jessamyn Stanley's website and learn all about her body positive approach to doing yoga.
- Want to learn more about yoga in a deeper way? Click here to check out my favorite yoga/meditation book.