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Just walk through the door

“I can’t do that. I’m too stiff. And besides, I’m not interested in contorting myself into a pretzel.” Roger was trying every excuse not to accompany me to my yoga class. I wasn’t buying it. He was having to honor his promise to try it, at least once. I reminded him that all he had to do was to walk through the door with me.

So we entered the studio. Roger looked around to make sure that there were other men there. There was…one. I reminded him to relax. We could sit near the back.

We grabbed our mats, blankets, blocks, and sat in the back row. The teacher walked to where we were and introduced herself to Roger. Welcoming him she explained that this was not competitive activity … that every body is different, and we never push past our comfort zones into any feeling that might be considered painful.

Towards the end of the class, in the final pose called savasana,  we relax, letting the previous poses soak in. I then heard some very heavy breathing coming from Roger. He was asleep.

Awakening, when everyone was putting away their props, he looked up at me with a smile on his face.

“I guess it wasn’t so bad,” he said. This first class experience happened over five years ago.

Today Roger has a regular yoga practice, and attends at least three classes a week. His body has experienced some exciting changes — losing weight, attaining greater flexibility, focus and patience with himself and others.

Roger recently recounted to me, “I never would have guessed that yoga could make such a difference in my life—not only with my body, but with my mind after I leave the yoga mat. I find myself much more patient with my family. Not only am I more relaxed, but I have let go of much of the anxiety I once experienced, just about life in general. My family loves the fact that I go to yoga. They don’t want me to stop.”

Yoga, and other disciplines such as Tai Chi, work on a multitude of levels. Hatha Yoga is primarily different poses or “asanas” that not only work to increase a person’s flexibility, but also work internally to massage and stimulate different bodily systems. Resulting in greater physical health, yoga also works on our mental outlook, increasing focus, patience, decreasing anxiety, and encouraging a more relaxed demeanor.

Yoga’s effect on the body is subtle. Changes occur slowly, building to a point where a person will notice a positive shift in body and mind. Especially as we become older, a regular yoga practice can help slow the aging clock.

It is possible to read a book to start yoga, or watch videos on YouTube, but even better, is to receive instruction from a certified teacher. A teacher who is concerned about proper alignment can help students avoid injury.

We are fortunate in this county to have a variety of opportunities to practice yoga. In Graeagle, Trails Within has regular classes. In Quincy, the Yoga and Wellness Center schedules yoga, tai chi, as well as other fitness classes for all ability levels. The Feather River Fitness Center also offers yoga. Radiant Health Yoga in Greenville offers yoga classes at the Wellness Center. Chester offers yoga at the Lake Almanor Fitness Center.

No need for special clothing or equipment. Just wear comfortable, non-constricting clothing, and the props can be provided by the yoga center, as you get started. At the Quincy Yoga and Wellness Center, a person who wants to try a class for the first time can do so for free. Call 283-3536 for more information.

We are lucky in our county to have businesses that support the health of our communities. Knowing it is often difficult to take the first step to better health, with our welcoming local resources, we just need to walk through the door and “show up.” The rest will take care of itself … and we can begin to take better care of ourselves.

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