Twists and Turns: my attempts at Yoga

IMG_3199I have bought a set of videos about yoga for older women. Cat Kabira, an American yoga instructor living in Bali is the host. Margaret Manning, of Sixty and Me, came up with the idea. Such a good idea because today older women are trying new things, new ideas, new attitudes. I am not shying away from any of these, hence this new adventure.

Not that I haven’t tried yoga before, in more than one occasion. I still do a couple of poses everyday to help me relax and start my day a bit more in tune with my inner self. Of course, by now I have no clue if I am doing them right or just following my version. Doesn’t matter, it has worked for me, sort of!!!

Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline that started¬† in India thousands of years ago. Linked to Hinduism, the practice of yoga is more complicated than many people realize. Introduced into the Western world around the middle of the 19th century, yoga has had many rebirths. Starting as a purely philosophical practice, it is now basically a physical exercise. This is what most people practice and it’s called Asana Yoga. I am sure you realize this is a very basic definition, but unfortunately this is what most people accept as yoga.

I IMG_3208 have never been a fan of exercise. Sweating on purpose is not my idea of time well-spent……well, maybe relaxing in a sauna. On the other hand, I am well aware that we all need to have a routine to keep us healthy, nimble, connected with our inner self, happy……you name your reason. I did tried several times to start an exercise routine without too much success. The only constant has been my small weight exercises that I do everyday. Did not want to have flabby arms!!!

IMG_0207Now, my friends know that I am an admirer of Indian culture. I am vegetarian on Mondays and Thursdays, I read anything about India I can get my hands on and I love Indian food, jhutis and glass bangles. I think a sari is the most alluring dress a woman can wear. Some of my Indian friends think I might have been Indian in a previous life. My husband is sure of that!!!

In the last few years, a new version has become the thing: Bikram Hot Yoga. This is practiced in a hot room that helps you sweat your way into flexibility. Supposedly this makes you do your poses better resulting the elimination of stress. I don’t know about that. Heat is never a good thing for me unless it is a hot pad when my lower back bothers me or a beautiful fire when it’s cold outside. You already know how I feel about sweating!!!

I digress. Let’s go back to my yoga practice or lack thereof. I did take, ages ago, some basic lessons. I have beautiful books about it and a small set of cards that explains the basic poses….they come out once in a while. After all, I have tried to keep this going. I take out my yoga mat and wear comfortable clothing, I close my eyes and breathe mindfully, I do some poses and stretches. Believe me, it might not be the real thing, but it does help me.

IMG_3206First of all, the time I’ve spent trying to get my body into these poses is time well spent. I have kept my posture, walking straight and have no problems with osteoporosis. My twists and turns, done consistently, have made me more nimble. It feels great. Right there, I am ahead, don’t you agree?

Second, and very important, my breathing has improved. There are two kinds of breathing that have helped me. The Stimulating Breath: Inhale and exhale through your nose three times in a row, very fast and noisily. This makes you feel energized. After that, rest for a short while. Repeat up to 15 breaths. The 4-7-8 Breathing: Inhale and open your hands to the count of four. Hold your breath and stretch your fingers to the count of seven. Exhale and close your hands to the count of eight. Repeat four times. This is so relaxing!!!

Last, but not least, my balance has improved. It was never great, still is not perfect, but much better. This is important, believe me. I am short and still wear high heels. As we grow older, this is not easy. I refused to always wear flats. They do nothing for your posture, but you need to have good balance. So my yoga poses have helped with this too.

 Back to my new tapes, there was a good reason to buy them besides the obvious: relearning the real yoga asanas. I will not go to a gym or yoga studio, I know myself. These tapes will keep me going for a long time to come. They will be my partners in the battle against settling into a sedentary life. I refuse to do that!!!