I started 2018 with good intentions and a resolution to attend yoga class on a weekly basis. I was consistently attending the Family Yoga class on weekends with my 3-year old and other classes at least once or twice per week. With every class, I was slowly noticing an improvement.
The benefits of yoga are documented among many sources, including the American Osteopathic Association. Stress reduction, weight loss, flexibility, increased muscle tone, and core strength are among them. But, actually seeing real-life results is different than reading about the benefits of yoga online. At first, I would think that I was having a “good day,” but then I realized that it was not just one good day. I gradually noticed my balance and flexibility improving. My fingertips were reaching closer to my toes. I was becoming more steady and able to execute poses with greater ease. Yoga can be hard work, but it was working.
However, sometimes the complications of life way-lay our plans and good intentions. Between the end of April and late May, I missed almost a month of yoga classes. During my time away from the mat, I felt physically and emotionally drained. I desperately needed “me time” to refill my cup. I felt more stressed and more depressed while my patience grew thin. My back hurt and my hamstrings felt too tight. While there were some valid reasons for missing yoga classes, there were also some excuses. Rather than write-off another failed New Year’s resolution, I was determined to get back on track and back on my mat.
With my monthly pass in hand, I made it to class twelve times in thirty days. I felt victorious for making it to an 8 am Saturday morning Slow Flow class on my first day back. As class progressed, I felt increasingly out of shape. My muscles were tight, my balance was off, and my newly-found flexibility had diminished. Trying to think positively, I declared to myself that the fact that I persevered and stayed in the room was another small victory. After class, I was exhausted and my muscles ached. Yet, I returned the next day for Family Yoga, then next day for Restorative, and kept coming back, squeezing in classes when I got off of work early, on weekday nights while my husband put my daughter to bed, and early on Saturday mornings while my family slept in. Slowly, my stress levels have diminished along with some of my aches and pains. Once again, I am seeing positive changes after spending time in my practice and on the mat.
As the saying goes, progress is two steps forward, one step back. My yoga class is not the same as it was a month ago, six months ago, or a year ago. It is a perpetual work in progress that requires me to commit to time on the mat. The progress may not be linear. There may not even be a clear goal in sight. Yet, little by little, I am noticing a change and recognizing what happens when I go to yoga class—and when I don’t.
— Amanda Kennon