It’s been a few days since my last confession. The main reason being that I’ve dedicated some time to a yoga program I just started. That’s not a very good excuse because it’s only 30 minutes total out of my day, but I’ve had a difficult time maintaining structure in my days for the past couple weeks so I’m using this yoga program in attempt to fix that.
Did I mention my wedding is in November? That’s also been a motivation to want to get fitter–although the motivation has not been so strong as to have kept me from having a cookie and iced coffee for lunch today at my favorite coffee shop. This month I need to get my dress altered for my body too. I feel a little anxiety about that–mostly because I haven’t chosen my wedding shoes yet which I need for the alterations. Warning that I’ll probably write more on those in another post.
The yoga program is structured in such a way that requires you to dedicate about 15 minutes every morning and 15 minutes every evening for 30 days (or longer). What caught my attention is that it touts improving your flexibility and easing lower back pain. The instructor, Jacquelyn Umof, started her career as a ballerina and Laker girl. I’ve been passively following her on Instagram for a few years now, initially because she posts lots of detailed pictures that compare correct versus incorrect postures in yoga poses, which I’ve found helpful.
Throughout the practices, Jacquelyn instructs to let go of any thoughts or feelings you have connected to the pose you’re in. When people hear that I danced for over 15 years, their assumption is that I’m flexible. On the contrary, flexibility was one of my biggest struggles in dance. I never could fully do the splits, though I loved the exhilaration of leaping across the floor during technique practices. I didn’t let it stop me from performing choreography, but I always felt inferior and spoke negatively to myself during stretches at the barre. My hip flexors and hamstrings have always been tight. Even when I broadened my fitness horizons with running and yoga, they remained tight. For my tight hips, and primarily for my low back pain for the past couple months, I am motivated to dedicate this time to myself each day and keep with it. Starting the program is an investment for me. Not just for myself but also to pay for the program and recommended props. No, I never used props in my yoga practice before, but let me just say–using them (and I’m only on day 5) has made all the difference. Yoga blocks, a strap and bolster have been amazing to incorporate into my practice. I’ve even used the blocks and bolster when not doing yoga. I use the blocks to sit on the floor so my spine is aligned more comfortably, and I use the bolster under my knees while sitting on the chaise of the couch. I feel a little silly writing this, but those props have changed my life and how I think about my body.
They’ve also changed the way I’m aligning myself in my yoga poses. The strap allows me to keep my spine straight without overextending my shoulders, which I tend to do in sitting and standing forward folds. Also, if I want to stretch my back and try to release my psoas, I’ll lay on the floor on my stomach and prop up my lower belly with the lowest or medium height of a block. In doing that I typically have a little discomfort, but it’s not unbearable–it’s simply like I’m stretching a tight muscle.
More than anything, I’m enjoying poses more with the props. They allow me to let go and stay in tune with my breath more. I believe time and practice with the props will enable me to let go of old thoughts and feelings associated with
certain most poses. A dancing background provided me with many positive things, but also made me long for the svelte gazelle physique of a ballerina, of which my body is just not capable. I’m only 5’4″ (and a half) and a little more on the stocky/athletic side. Some moments I’m at peace with that. Other moments I look in the mirror and, like many women (or people), don’t like what I see. But Jacquelyn has said to be thankful for your body and what it allows you to do, how it allows you to move. And like I’ve written in a previous post, I am so grateful for my ability to move, especially to use my legs even if they aren’t the most flexible. With time and practice, I have faith my body and mind will catch up with each other and I will be able to, in Jacquelyn’s terms, experience the beautiful experience of being me.
May good things come to you always.