Go To Yoga
By Wendy K. Williamson

Reflecting on September’s National Yoga Month – yes, there was one! – I’ve recently restored my commitment to yoga. I decided to write about it due to my newfound inspiration and reflect upon how I stopped in the first place, following the hurricane that destroyed my favorite yoga studio.

Oasis hour of calm

My short-lived love affair with it began in Sea Bright, a town that took a severe beating during Hurricane Sandy. My favorite yoga place never recovered. I still remember the calm feeling, the calm, positive energy and beautiful, exposed brick walls. How the long hardwood floors culminated in a beautiful spiritual altar. The karma always felt genuine. The mutual respect, if you will, passed between poses and before and after class freely, almost silently to each person.

Our instructor would light candles, turn the lights down lower, sometimes put on music and begin what I treasured as my oasis hour of calm. I could count on an awareness of my body otherwise fleeting on a day-to-day basis. Never have I felt, then or since, the high I have walking out afterwards.

Hurricanes and other excuses!

Then the hurricanes came. First, Irene caved in our apartment ceiling and forced us to move from our beloved beach town. Next, Hurricane Sandy destroyed my favorite yoga studio, my Zen, as we moved further inland yet again. Many, many people in town had to move and rebuild and some never came back, like Brahma Yoga.

I searched all the yoga studios in the county for a similar Zen one but gave up. The deadline for my second book came and went; meanwhile, my yoga clock ticked louder and louder. My sneakers grew a layer of dust even after my foot surgery. Once I healed all that stood between me and ‘om’ was ditching my quest for a new Brahma Yoga and opening my mind to somewhere new. But where? Could I even do a warrior pose? Could I bend at all? I had lost but then gained back a lot of weight, and had a constantly sprained ankle.

You bet I was overflowing with excuses. Shame at how overweight I had gotten kept me away the most though. Plus, I reserved my extra money to reinvest in my books and our house. Yes, I kept those excuses coming. I did a great job at that.

Life would never be as serene

I knew I had to get back into a yoga pose soon or I could kiss that unmistakable peace goodbye forever. What I did have going for myself? I had quit smoking years ago and lost sixty pounds. I could do it again. Slowly. Once down twenty pounds I would go to yoga again.

In the meantime, I still needed to find a new yoga home and braced myself for the realization that it would never be as good as Brahma. I would never walk three blocks from my apartment, breathe in the ocean and step inside. I was living far from Sea Bright; life had changed dramatically; it would never be as special or serene.

Too good to be true?

For someone with bipolar disorder, or any mind, mood, anxiety, brain disorder of any type, here’s why I and countless others recommend it. The benefits sound too good to be true!

• Decreases stress and gives deeper peace of mind • Brings mind-body integration and awareness • Enhances brain function and mental focus • Promotes weight loss • Lowers blood pressure & cholesterol • Gives you better flexibility, skeletal alignment and strengthens bones and joints • Deepens peace of mind, happiness and inner peace.

1in4 mental health anthology

You can feel this way, I promise. I have. To do it every week takes practice, I’ll admit. I am consistently inconsistent, but this is where discipline comes in. I have to remember myself how phenomenal I feel during and after yoga. All the toxins that are making their way out of my body makes me feel amazing and what a perfect remedy for those of us with excessive stress or mental illness!

How to start

You’ll notice yoga can be expensive. I have two recommendations for you. To try it out, find local yoga studios online and look on their schedule for a “community” class. That is code for free. Also, there are deals on Groupon. I recently bought ten classes for $39.00 to try out a new place. Sometimes when new studios open they run specials too. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Don’t worry if you are overweight, a beginner or can’t do all the poses. There are beginner’s classes and there are moves called child and warrior poses and downward dog. I would often revert back to them throughout the session when I couldn’t manage the advanced ones. Who cares? I am by no means flexible and able to stand on my head or do half of what more experienced people can. Besides, comparison is not what yoga is about.

Try it

Go to experience the calm. Try it if you’re new. Everyone has been at one point. They’ll teach you how to breathe and help you with your poses. If you find it odd at first, it may feel this way, give it a few tries. Think of all the health benefits and hang in there. Remember, there’s always child’s pose!

**Update: I went back last night for the first time in years. I definitely struggled, but I did it! And yes, I utilized child’s pose. I may not have found my new place (who plays Madonna during yoga?), but I sure am on my way.

Reproduced with permission, originally posted here

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