Yoga yoga

Photo credit: Priscilla Felipe

Suffice it to say that I’m under a wee bit of stress.

This summer was full of amazing, wonderful highs — a beautiful wedding, a brilliant, handsome new husband, lots of fun trips and travel, visits with dear friends, the prospect of an exciting new job abroad.  But the underbelly of all of those terribly exciting things are…decision fatigue (read: wedding planning), anxiety, packing, moving, liquidating possessions, dealing with lots of government bureaucracies for name changes and visa applications, dealing with airlines and airports and late and delayed flights….in short, stress stress stress.

My poor back and neck are wound so tightly. I’m wearing a special bracelet on my right wrist to remind myself to breathe.  I treated myself to an intense (and much more painful than relaxing) massage from my favorite Austin spa which I am hoping loosened me up a bit.

But what I really need is yoga.

I took my very first yoga class back in college, and although it was at 7:45 in the morning (an ungodly hour for a college student!), I quickly became addicted to the slow but challenging nature of breathing within a difficult pose.  And I love, love loved how rejuvenated I felt after a class.

Since then, I’ve been an on-and-off devotee (I realize the contradiction of that sentence).  I’ve been to many different types of classes, from Hatha to Vinyasa to Ashtanga.  I’ve done yoga to club tunes at gym clubs (not my fave) to a more intense meditative class at a dedicated yoga studio (I like those better).  It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a class and I know that my body is telling me that it needs to go.  I am hardly an expert yogi, but here are my tips for a good yoga class:

  1. Proper attire is a must, because over the course of an hour and a half long class, you’ll quickly get tired of your t-shirt flipping up and exposing your belly.  My recommendations: a form-fitting top that won’t budge and spandex pants.  Gym shorts don’t offer great coverage!
  2. If you are anything like me, a sweat towel is extremely important from keeping yourself from slipping all over the mat.  I use a normal bath towel, but one of these days I’d like to purchase one of those fancy dedicated non-slippy towels.
  3. Breathing within a pose is super important.  This is difficult if you are not used to breathing exercises and you might feel silly, but deep, audible breaths not only help you get into the pose and stay there, but also deepen the meditative aspect of the practice.
  4. I always feel antsy and a little frustrated for the first 15 minutes of the practice.  I think that (for me, anyway), this is a normal part of my mind making the transition to its flustered, anxious, stressed out self into a more relaxed, focus and calmed state.  I try to be patient and just get through those first 15 minutes.
  5. Shop around at different studios to make sure that you find one that suits your taste.  Just because you hate one type of yoga class doesn’t (necessarily) mean you hate yoga in general.  I have found yoga classes and styles to be widely divergent — they can feel like a normal exercise class at the Y in some cases, or in other cases, they can feel semi-religious (or even very religious)!  Just choose the style that suits what you are looking for.
My goal for this week: get to yoga, and get rid of some stress!

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