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From Fitness to Wellness to Namaste

Monday, March 19, 2012

Like so many of us, I'm finding that the ability to maintain significant weight-loss is more challenging than losing the weight itself had been. Old habits of eating and inactivity still reassert themselves, unless I'm making a conscious effort to replace them. And until I establish new habits in their place, so that they become behaviors that I find myself doing without conscious effort, the tension remains between old ways and the ways I want to establish.

One of the practices that i'm finding increasingly helpful to me as I work this transition is yoga. As a primarily "physical" practice, a yoga routine of postures [asanas] provides an hour of physical activity that has acknowledged fitness and health benefits. My body is more supple and my balance is much surer now that I've been practicing for over a year.

More significantly, though, yoga offers emotional and even spiritual benefits that improve my sense of self and my relationships with others. Some of these benefits occur through the breath control that is part of an hourly practice. In itself, the awareness of my breathing helps me to focus and to screen out the annoyances and distractions that stress me out.

In addition, the reminders in class to "be grateful" for what I have and experience in the moment helps me to value even the simplest things that are good in my life and to place the rest in a perspective that makes them less important or serious in the greater scheme of living truly.

Now, I am engaged in deepening my practice by training to become a yoga instructor. I completed my level-2 training this past weekend. Even if I never complete the 200 hours of training that would earn me certification as a Registered Yoga Trainer, I am already feeling the transformation of my respect for who I am as I am and for others as they are. I feel it physically while I am in my practice, and I carry it with me between the hours of my practice.

Each practice session ends with the Sanskrit greeting/blessing, "Namaste": the light in me honors the light in you. As a Christian, I have no problem interpreting that sentiment as a version of "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Be well, by being kind to yourself, so that you may be kind to others.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    There are plenty of tapes and DVDs out there, and yoga is definitely an activity you can do on your own at home. I used a DVD for a while before I started taking classes.

    Once I started getting cues and feedback from the instructor during a class, though, I realized that I'd been missing a lot of the basics about breathing and spinal alignment. A good yoga instructor will always try to keep you from hurting yourself by offering modifications. Which modification you choose depends on what your body is telling you on any given day. So I'd probably recommend trying a few classes at the "gentle" level until you feel comfortable monitoring yourself as you practice.

    2161 days ago
    Congratulations on your success in Yoga! Yoga is a component of P90X, my preferred fitness program, and I'm really missing it now that I'm off P90X for awhile. I really notice how my flexibility is decreasing. I haven't done enough Yoga to progress beyond its fitness aspects to its inner wellness aspects but that's definitely something I should consider.
    2162 days ago
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