The Buddhists have a wonderful term for the constant state of brain chatter that I often find myself in; Monkey Mind! Just like a monkey can never sit still, swinging from vines, hoo-hooing and flinging things about, a monkey mind is a brain that’s constantly in motion. My brain is usually in motion, and while the thoughts aren’t always bad, I do need to find more ways to silence the brain drain — part of my 2014 goal for healthier living. Enter: Yoga.
I’ve been doing yoga intermittently for several years. I first took a class at the junior college, and found myself annoyed by the perky teacher who encouraged us to measure ourselves every week to see if our yoga-ing was helping us shrink. My second attempt at yoga was at the Granada Hills Pavilion, a gigantic community class with at least forty people stacked on top of each other in a dim ballroom. I loved that yoga class, but had a hard time concentrating when somebody would “open up” and let a fart slip out, which happened often considering the class was so packed. (It happens – not judging (in fact, it will probably be my karma that now I crack one off in tomorrow’s yoga class) – but I’m immature and farts make me laugh.) I’ve tried yoga several times at my current gym, and while the class flow itself is fine, I’ve been really bothered by the fact that none of the teachers at my gym use music in their classes. For someone who does have the old monkey mind, music is a great way to move through thoughts rather than swirling them around while you’re supposed to be downward dogging.
This week, I tried an awesome Vinyasa Flow class with my blogging buddy, Alyssa at Inner Power Yoga. It was so cool to meet Alyssa this week, and even cooler that she was the one teaching the class! My workout buddies Susannah and Sally joined me for an evening of flow, and we twisted, stretched and smiled into various poses like Cobra, Cat and Warrior. I was super excited because I got to try a head stand inversion against the wall — the perfect balance of challenge and comfort.
Then, on Sunday, I took a “restorative yoga” class which focused on postures using props like blocks, bolsters, and straps to really relax and open up the muscles. It felt amazing!!! One thing I learned is that to really feel a certain pose or posture, you should stay in it for 60 seconds. Good for me to know when I do some mid-day stretches. I’m loving what yoga does not only for my mind, but for my body, too. During these classes the amount of cracking in my muscles makes me sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies, but after I feel limber and loose. It’s amazing how tense your muscles are throughout the day, and how important it is to stretch them out. Now that there is scientific proof that yoga has healing powers (specifically in reducing stress and illness related inflammation), I think I’m going to make a goal to do yoga at least once per week. That’s something me and my monkey mind can feel pretty zen about
Have you done yoga, and do you find it relaxing? One of my friends says it’s too relaxing for her, and for that reason, prefers other more intense forms of exercise. What about you?