It's not easy to see my legs under my dog in the photo above, but trust me when I say that I was in the pose you can see Ross Rayburn and Kristin McGee doing on the screen when Tuukka decided my lap would make a great pillow. Turns out, my lapdog, updog, and downward dog are all the same dog.
I was already thinking about starting another post with some thoughts I had during this Peloton workout, but capturing the photo cemented my plan.
Many years ago, my school offered a great deal with Yoga at Space, a lovely studio that's about two hundred yards from my house. I signed up and showed up. I was the only person there in my thirties (as I said, many years ago); everyone else was then around the age I am now, early fifties. The classes offered great stretches and restorative poses, focused on relaxation and breathing. I hated every second of every class. If I wasn't dripping sweat, how could I be getting a worthy workout?
Several years later, I found a studio I loved. (Hi, Andes!) I went to the classes, about fifteen minutes from my house, every Saturday morning at 6:00am. The instructor guided us while walking around to settle shoulders down here and push hips back there. I loved her sparkly, strong personality and fun, upbeat music. I found her classes the perfect mix of strength-training and stretching and social time. Sadly for me and happily for her, she moved to Oregon.
When she left, I quit regular yoga practice, though I did pop in a yoga DVD my mother (Hi, Mom!) gave me every once in a while.
With my conversion to Peloton at the beginning of quarantine, I re-instituted my weekly yoga class (swapping out a weekly swim, as the school's pool closed down).
I admit to practicing only once a week. Additionally, I need to put it out there that I'm not good. I can't get myself up into wheel. My legs are never straight and toes not so flexed. I always go all the way to the floor on my chaturanga. When the instructors give modifications, I need and take them. I use the strap, the blocks, the blanket. If there were other devices to help maneuver my body into the right positions, I'd grab them, too.
Fortunately, I have a totally different attitude about yoga than thirty-five-year-old Carita did. What did that kid know? At my current age (fifty-one), I understand that the stretching helps everything else work better. I cherish the shaking legs. I'm grateful for every correction the instructors give me and for every minute I get to spend pushing myself, but also for every second I get to spend slowing down.
I go into downward dog, a position I've done so many times, and I hear the instructors' reminders to push my hips that way and my shoulders this way and root my hands and feet through the floor and float my stomach up and more and more, and I can always do it better. I get several lessons out of practicing yoga:
- I can always use more guidance.
- I haven't yet reached the limits of what I can do.
- I need to take instruction from experts.
- I'm lucky to have the time to practice.
- I have to allow myself to fail and keep trying.
- Working out is a gift I give myself, and it's also a privilege I enjoy.
- When the dog needs love, give love.
These hold true in yoga and in all things.
Do you practice yoga? What do you get out of it?
PS Happy Birthday to my favorite newly twenty-two-year-old person, who loves hot yoga. I love you, kid!