By Deborah Caruana
After 10 years of no yoga I started to practice again. Deciding yoga was the missing ingredient to the hard-core cardio and weight training I was into. Unfortunately, 10 years of workouts had tightened up my muscles and joints and all of the yoga poses that came so easily 10 yrs prior now seemed out of reach.
Determined to get back to where I was, though nagged by the thought “you get stiff and then you get old”, I persisted. Were the ‘work outs’ the culprit in losing flexibility? Or was it the fact that I didn’t stretch enough, after workouts? Who has the time?! I was a busy trainer running all over town taking care of clients. Cardio, weight training, stretching…it all took too much time! I was not willing to admit that it was because I had aged that I had lost flexibility! As I incorporated more yoga and less workout, I enjoyed it so much I enrolled in a 200 hour yoga certification to compliment the fitness I was teaching.
It took 3 full years of all yoga and no working out, but I finally won back that beautiful natural flexibility! Did I want to go back to working out? Not in the least, all that flexibillity felt too good. Plus, no more aches and pains from knotted, sore and aching muscles while pushing myself with workouts.
Was it worth the 3 year investment? Well first of all my body looked and felt so much better. In yoga because you are constantly holding your own body weight in an endless array of movements from handstands, to shoulder stands, to one legged balances with twists and plank variations, my body remained very strong, sculpted and supple. I also learned to breath properly, stand quietly, and to surrender deeper into poses, practicing awareness of where and how each body part was aligned and activated. From a thoughtful intention and dynamic heart felt center I learned to ground by pressing deeper into the floor which freed me to expand energy outward and upward to lengthen so as to create lines while moving gracefully from one pose to the next. I discovered a form of moving meditation in union of body, mind and breath which is the definition of yoga.
I also slimmed down, not from ‘dieting’ or effort but rather, a sense of being filled. Not as ravenously hungry as I was when I was “exercising” food simply, though I still enjoyed it, was fuel to feed my somewhat thankfully diminished hunger. It was no longer as tantalizing and appealing perhaps because I was calmer, and felt more at peace. I made healthier choices too, desiring foods and living situations that were colorful and simple. Yoga gave me the gift of self-acceptance and self compassion, life’s ups and downs became easier and less jarring. I stopped feeling like I had to be better, do more, get leaner and I relaxed into my own skin more.
This is when I got my full 500 hour certification. Teaching has become a wonderful outlet for me, a different form of meditation that calms and soothes. Do I still have other forms of exercise? Sure! I love walking, for long distances too. Cycling also feels wonderful. Sometimes I have to run and I can, gracefully. Gardening, landscaping our place in the country, chopping wood, weeding, helping my husband build beautiful rock walls, dancing, but the yoga is a part of my life that I practice everyday on and off the mat.
Deborah Caruana RN, CYT, CPT, MES, Yoga Lifestyle Coach
U..E.S. Manhattan NY 10021