Yoga - A Journey

Posted on Oct 17th 2011 by Florida Blue

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With close to 11 million Americans practicing it, yoga is certainly a fitness routine that has captured our nation. From flexibility to strength, the many benefits of yoga have been widely discussed. In talking to Sandy Mika (our resident yoga buff), we were inspired to share more on the topic. Such was her love for the discipline that we thought it’d be best if she spoke of it in her own words.
Photo credit: Laura Faith
When I was 16, my mother signed me up for self-hypnosis classes to treat my migraine headaches. Every Wednesday night, I would go to our local high school, take my usual seat at the back and quickly slip right into my own private world. I’d envision the headache as an overflowing coke bottle that I would meticulously mop up and then ring out into a bucket. I then take that bucket, place it into a hot air balloon and off it sailed until I could no longer see it. Before I knew it an hour had passed and the instructor was sounding her chimes to gently bring us back to reality. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was “meditation” in every sense of the word and that this wonderful practice would be the thread that connected me to yoga many years later.
Photo credit: Laura Faith
Let me be completely honest, I am the most anti-exercise, TV loving, laying on the couch, staying in my pajamas all weekend girl you’ll ever meet. I have failed at every diet and workout routine strategy known to mankind mainly because I’m not what you’d call disciplined and I really hate to sweat. You name it, I’ve tried it – and failed miserably. Aerobics, jogging, Zumba, Pilates, spinning, “bootcamp”, aqua aerobics, and kick-boxing – just to name a few. So when someone suggested yoga to me, I followed my usual pattern. I was wildly enthusiastic about it, bought all the equipment (not to mention the cute clothes), and signed up for non-refundable classes, for which I would be no doubt formulating a “why I need a refund” story very shortly. Only this time, instead of walking into a room full of people that look like they’ve been practicing their entire lives, and feeling very much like the clumsy outcast on my first day at a new school, I was overcome with a feeling of indescribable peace. These weren’t muscle bound athletes with perfect Spandex outfits on cell phones; these were women of all ages and a few peaceful men that looked like they had found themselves a sanctuary. The softly lit room smelled of musky incense and everywhere I looked there were pillows, blankets and odd looking props. This comfy peaceful heaven seemed too perfect to be true. We started with a quiet meditation, thanked our bodies for just showing up, and spent the next hour and a half gingerly stretching our muscles and appreciating the quiet heaven that we created for ourselves that night. That was almost 6 years ago, and since then, I’ve increased my practice to two group classes per week and an hour per day in my second bedroom turned yoga room.
If I had to sum up what yoga has brought into my life, it’s pretty simple –it’s brought me an exercise routine that requires no special talents, equipment or experience, and the best part is that you don’t have to sweat unless you really want to.
Photo credit: Laura Faith
My yoga mat gives me a place to bring all of the day’s stress and lets me sort through it and see it for what it truly is – just life and nothing more. Yoga has enhanced my meditation skills to the point that I rarely ever need any pain medications and if I do happen to get sick, I use the power of my mind to relax and allow my body’s natural healing abilities to take over. I’ve also learned that exercise can be your friend; something to look forward to – and something that you can use in everyday life. Yoga actually makes you feel better; practicing the postures, breathing exercises and meditation makes you healthier in body, mind and spirit. Yoga lets you tune in, chill out and shape up – all at the same time.

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I have considered trying meditation. Maybe I should take a serious look at this. I don't have a lot of time because I am retired but I have some great places to practice yoga. Thanks for the encouragement.

Joe Baker

Joe - You're welcome and we are excited that you are considering a new activity. We are encouraged to feature new and interseting health activities for all to try.

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