It is now more than a year since the variations of COVID stay-at-home began. At the point where I was ready to crawl the walls, a month of yoga challenge saved me.
I first began to practice hatha yoga in 1967, thanks to a roommate who skipped out before paying her portion of the utility bill. In her hurry, she left behind a book by Jess Stearns titled Yoga Youth and Reincarnation.
At first, the title didn’t draw me in. I was already young and wasn’t ready to explore reincarnation, but for some reason the yoga portion spoke to me. At that time, I don’t believe there was a yoga studio anywhere near me. For those who had heard of yoga, it was still viewed as something foreign and suspect.
Stearns’ descriptions and drawings of yoga poses were good enough that I could follow them without a guru or teacher. I developed my own routines, always ending with a meditation. Yoga cleared my thinking then as it does now. I credit the importance of breath technique incorporated which each pose.
Over time, I have participated in any number of exercise classes. Every now and then it would dawn on me that a good portion of the instructor’s routine was based on some of the yoga poses I learned from Stearn’s book years ago. The cat stretch or cat/cow is used in a number of what are called fitness classes. What those classes leave behind is the importance of a breath pattern to center your mind and body.
Since that book fell into my hands in 1967, yoga has gone mainstream. Soft lit yoga studios with bolsters, and every type of physical support are common. And then there are the yoga classes in high temperature rooms and those that gyms slip into their class lineup, described as wellness-related but more like calisthenics. I did try a couple of those in a pinch. It just wasn’t the same without time set aside for a bit of pre and post practice meditation.
So why did I slip away from a regular practice for, oh, let’s see, 45 or 50 years? Those years now place me in my mid-seventies. The 30-day program I just completed was Hatha Yoga, the branch of yoga I began with way back then, one of the oldest schools of yoga.
On this bookend of my life, I plan to continue my 30-day yoga online program and journey into the future. In fact, I am now another three weeks beyond the initial 30-day program. Even in the busiest day, I have carved out a few moments on my yoga mat to engage my breath and stretch out my body in an asana or two. I plan to continue my 50-year interrupted journey with Hatha Yoga and see where we go together into the future. Thank you, Yoga with Adrienne.
Have you rekindled a relationship with a long left-behind activity or joy? How is that experience working for you? Has yoga, in any of its forms, played a role in your life?