As businesswomen, we know we’ll be more productive if we stay fit and eat a balanced diet. But with the frenzied pace we usually keep, it’s tough to stay on track.
Exercise is always the first thing that drops off my list when I have a lot to do. The one constant for the past three years is the yoga class I’ve been taking at my local community college, at the bargain rate of $20 per semester.
Because it’s a class, I do a pretty good job of sticking with it. Though, truth to tell, I find yoga difficult, painful and often frustrating. My mantra: “If the pose doesn’t hurt, I’m not doing it right.” Still, I keep coming back for more.
The Fat-to-Fit Challenge
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I know yoga is good for me. My sciatica went away for a couple of years, until I took summer and fall semester off last year and it came back. Slowly but surely, I think it’s retreating again. More than that, though, my instructor, Faye Pastel — and before her, Ann Doty — have the right attitude to make it work for me. Both are serious about yoga, but there’s a playfulness that comes through, as well. And the absolute assurance that, as long as I’m trying, whatever I do is fine.
Or maybe it’s me. I took yoga many years ago for several semesters. I wasn’t any more flexible then, despite my relative youth (probably early 30s), and I didn’t like Savasana (a relaxation pose) then any more than I like it now. Lie there and don’t think about anything? Riiiighhht. When I’m dead — I promise! But what really got to me in my younger days was the folks who, although many years my senior, were more flexible than I was and could do all the poses better than me. Competitive? Who, me?
I’m still competitive with myself — I push myself to hold the poses and try not to opt for the easier variations. But I don’t necessarily compare myself with others anymore. Maturity? Maybe.
Overall, I have to say I’ve enjoyed class this semester. Pastel is tougher on us (and probably on herself) than Doty was. Actually, I like that. Because when I leave class I feel as though I’ve had a workout. I don’t get nearly enough exercise (once-a-week yoga is a bare minimum), so there’s a sense of satisfaction in getting through class each week and knowing I’ve worked hard on behalf of my body.
Yes, I know that yoga is mental as well as physical. As I said, I don’t really like Savasana. Lying still makes me feel every ache. It’s hard not to think about my day, about unfinished business — or whatever else decides to flit through my mind. Instructions to relax various parts of my body don’t help. If I could do that, I probably wouldn’t need a yoga class. So I count it a victory if I can keep my mind blank for as long as a minute. Generally, long before Pastel’s ready for us to quit, my eyes pop open to stare at the ceiling, and I have to quell my urge to drum my fingers on the floor with impatience.
The couple of times Pastel has come by to arrange my body parts in a more relaxed pose have been amazing. Apparently, with the right knowledge, my body CAN relax. So maybe I’ll stick with this. Who knows? If I’m more mature now than I was 20 years ago, perhaps there’s hope. Perhaps someday I’ll learn to tune into the “mind” part of yoga as well as the physical attributes.