When I was discharged from Indiana University Hospital, they did it right. I mean, they thought of everything we would possibly need after being hospitalized for months, from tube feeds to home healthcare to medications to follow-up appointments, we had everything. More than once during that time, the providers would say, may we recommend yoga. We heard it enough that we thought, maybe there is something to this random recommendation. We bought a $12.00 mat at Wal-Mart and found some YouTube videos. We set up in the living room. We were going to do yoga. Nothing resonated with me. Not one thing. The 23-minute video was too long, I felt awkward, i was sore, I didn't feel well, the breathing and quiet and reflection, it did not click. Rolled up that twelve dollar investment and hid it away in a closet.
Fast forward a few years into my recovery, as I was suffering through an allergic reaction and on prednisone for the first time in my life, I was up all hours of the night - decided to reach out to a Pilates studio opening in my neighborhood, the owner (suffering from insomnia) took the time that night to explain the difference between Pilates and yoga and signed me up to get started. A year later - yoga has completely changed my life.
The principles of yoga are essentially a lifestyle or exercise that involves participation at a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Basically you settle in and start with a focus on your breathing, your attitude, grounding, followed by a flow of exercise. This was everything my body and mind needed and I never realized I was missing until I started. More and more, I've been taking mental notes throughout my classes and taking away key mantra's - tid-bits of wisdom that continue to appear in yoga and are able to be directly applied to my life. It's kind of like - everything I need to know I learned in yoga ;)
Be Present. As you settle into your practice, you are reminded to be present in the space. Allowing your mind and body to settle, and calm itself with a focused attention on your breathing. For the longest time, and actually still - it is during this calming time of breathing and being present I am reminded of my PE's and feel immense gratitude that I was able to keep pushing through and I'm present on my mat today.
Thoughts as Clouds. As you settle into your breathing, thoughts will come and go - it takes the mind a lot longer to settle in than it does the body. During yoga, the instructor may suggest you treat the thoughts that pass through as clouds passing by in the sky. Let them come and let them go. After a couple classes, this really works and it now works for me outside of class as well. I am able to be mindful in the day-to-day and push those clouds away when they do not suit me.
Set Your Intention. As with the breathing and mindfulness, setting an intention in class helps me to focus my practice. Setting intentions in my life also helps me to focus. See what I mean, it all comes together. I usually set my intention as something in relation to gratitude and KPT plays a huge focus in my yoga practice and life. Intentional is my word for 2020. I find being intentional in thoughts and actions is criticial to a well-rounded healthy well-being.
No Judgement. This is something I have found to be universally true. There is no judgement. Yoga is safe. Yoga is calming. Yoga can soothe the soul and wash away your inhibitions and insecurities. Truly, there is no judgement - it is your practice. You on your mat - pushing through at your own pace.
Accept Imperfection. Now if this isn't a beautiful concept, I don't know what is. Accept your imperfections, they are what makes you - YOU. Yoga encourages this acceptance of oneself. I wish more people today would truly find the beauty in the imperfections. I have too many scars to count and I love each one of those imperfections - they show where I was, what I went through and how I healed.
Find your Edge. I absolutely LOVE this concept. You find your edge right along the corners of discomfort and pain. You want to be right at that edge, to stretch yourself, expand your mobility and grow as a person. I think this is another tid-bit of wisdom from yoga that can be applied daily. This is truly the epitome of keep pushing through. When you get to that edge, you keep going, you push through, you ride the wave, you become stronger, healthier, you grow.
So, may we recommend yoga? It took me a couple years to get there, but I am so glad I did. Besides sobriety, I cannot say that something has changed my life in such a healthy and impactful way as yoga has. It allows me to take care of my mental health and physical health. Even when I don't feel like it, I keep pushing through, I find myself on my mat and never, have I ever, once regretting that decision.