It was many years ago as a teenager when I first discovered yoga. I was immediately swept away by all the incredible photos of people standing on their heads or stretching their legs behind their heads. I had to know how they did it. And I wanted to do it, too.
If I’m being honest, I’ve never been a fan of exercise. I hated gym class in school — too much running. I was never all that great at sports — again, too much running.
In high school, my physical activity of choice was marching band. I was in the colorguard and loved every awesome minute of it. My favorite aspect of it was the dancing, particularly all the flexibility and balance that came along with dancing around a football field 8+ hours a week.
But I’ve aged out of marching band, obviously. And I’m still not a fan of exercise.
So as a late twenty-something whose never learned to love exercise, my interest in practicing yoga regularly has become something very important to me.
I just wish I was a little better at being consistent with it. I’ll be good and stick to it for 3 or 4 weeks. But then life will get in the way and excuses will pop up. And before I know it, I’m stiff again and looking at my yoga mat with a mixture of guilt and dread.
Because let’s face it, yoga is not at all like riding a bike. If it’s been more than a week or so since I’ve practiced, it doesn’t come as easily and feels like starting over. And every time I start over, I feel like I’m never going to get to the point where I want to be.
I realized yesterday that I absolutely need yoga in my life. I spent a good few hours out in the yard digging daylilies out of my flower beds. After all the digging, raking, and pushing the wheelbarrow around the yard half a dozen times, my body was weak and stiff and sore.
And I didn’t feel any better this morning when I woke up and practically hobbled to the bathroom. I felt old and creaky, and I’m embarrassed to admit just how out of shape I really felt.
It’s easy as a busy mom to fall into the habit of feeling like chasing my toddler around all day is enough physical activity to keep me healthy. It’s definitely not. Walking back and forth between the kitchen, the bathroom, and the playroom 500 times a day is just not enough. And it especially doesn’t do anything for keeping me flexible.
But yoga does. It’s not the perfect exercise by any means. I still think it’s necessary to do some cardio and muscle-building exercises a few times a week. But yoga does improve flexibility and balance substantially. I can always tell a difference when I’ve been practicing regularly for a few weeks. I don’t feel stiff. I breathe more easily. And I feel more stable on my feet.
I’m not proud to admit that I’m inconsistent about my yoga practice. But I’m not ashamed to be human. I’m not perfect and never will be. Even if I practiced yoga everyday, I still wouldn’t reach a point where I could say I was a perfect yogi. No one could ever be perfect, right?
It’s not only the physical aspect of yoga that attracts me, it’s the mental benefits as well. I’ve tried working meditation into my daily routine and have found it to be a great way to start my day. I love the clarity that comes from those few moments of quiet reflection. I feel peaceful and grounded, and that’s so important for someone whose days can get unbelievably hectic. If you’ve ever considered trying meditation, I recommend trying some guided meditations to start like this one that contains some awesome positive affirmations.
I miss my yoga mat. I’m pretty sure it’s missing me. So I’ve got to make time for my yoga practice. It’s so important for my mental and physical health. And one day, I’d like to be able to pass along the habit to my son knowing that I set a good example of someone who practices regularly.
What kinds of activities do you wish you were better at sticking to? How do you manage to find time to take care of your mental and physical well-being? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading!