“Bring your hands to heart’s center. Focus on your breath. Allow your movement to flow from your breath…”
Sitting in a classroom of Butler Hospital (for those of you who are not from Rhode Island, that’s the mental hospital, or as my politically correct husband would say “the loony bin”), I was annoyed that this class was held on this campus, and plain embarrassed in general to be in an exercise class where flexible people appeared to be “winning.” I stole a glance at my fellow yoga practitoners. They were in various states of awkward contemplation, cross-legged, some perhaps finding some inner peace, others looking longingly at the cell phones far from their mats. We were all yoga newbies involved in a study: Does yoga help ease postpartum depression?
Turns out, it really does. And that yoga is never, ever a competition.
“I was not used to getting ‘in tune’ with ‘what my body was telling me.’ I had not cultivated inner stillness and quiet. Turns out, as a busy mom of four, it was a skill I desperately needed to learn … “
As in all of yoga, you take the position that works for you. As a Christian, I have brought time with God into my yoga practice. I have not had to change religions or do anything against my own, contrary to the fears and insecurities of some. When I set an intention for my time stretching on the mat, I find moments to connect with my own belief system. I lift up my needs to my Father, remembering that everything–from dishes to stretching–can be a prayer, an act of love and kindness. For me, when I imagine myself being surrounded by a circle of light, I am reminded of the presence of God. Saluting the sun means I’m looking up (literally). For me, assuming a “goddess pose” (fancy name for a certain leg stretch) is good for my sense of humor and humility. Saying “Namaste” to my fellows is wishing them peace. And while chanting “ohm,” I do think of the universal sound of creation, forever lifted in praise of its Maker.