I’ve never been an athlete or enjoyed going to the gym (people do?), but I’m a big fan of yoga. I remember scoffing at it myself before I tried a class, but I was hooked before too long! It’s the best thing I have found to calm my mind and work on keeping me fit.
Good teachers are vital, especially when you’re new to the practice or working on a new-to-you pose, and I am glad that I have found some great ones over the years. As far as NYC studios, my favorites are Mala Yoga in Cobble Hill (Brooklyn) and Yogamaya in Chelsea (Manhattan).
Mala featured me in their Yogi Next to You series a few years ago. Here is an excerpt from my “yoga story.”
With yoga, unlike other exercises, I felt like I was working with my body for the first time. When I understood how to do various poses, I could do them…or at least see how to work toward them. I am stronger now than I’ve ever been in my life, and that is just amazing to me. I don’t think I would have believed I could do a headstand 10 years ago, for example. And there is, of course, so much more to yoga than exercise.
Yoga is truly a “practice.” I like that there is always more to learn. I don’t like—but I am beginning to accept—that progress is not always linear.
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I began my yoga practice in my late 40’s. Though I’d been exercising all my adult life…modern dance classes, aerobics and weight room at the Y, private sessions with Jane Fonda in my living room (blue shiny leotard, leg warmers, frizzy hair – and that was just what Jane has on in the tape), it was with yoga that I found I could really feel my body, and eventually realized I was standing up straighter, breathing deeper, and learning to be patient with progress in all things. It’s so NOT competitive (almost unamerican) that it gives you space to explore.
During the most difficult parts of my life, when I could not get to a class or even make myself stretch, I remembered to breath. When I was recovering, I went back to class and found my body had memory of what I had done before, and it wasn’t long before I could locate long dormant feeling.
The best thing for me about practicing yoga is that you can show up and practice for months, and suddenly one day a breakthrough happens, maybe just a small thing, but it is so wonderful. No, progress is not linear, or cumulative, just like life. But it’s always enough to keep going.