Breathing New Life Into a Yoga Journey
When I landed at IDEA over 17 years ago, I had tried yoga just a handful of times.
Roll back to 1997. We had moved from Los Angeles to San Diego, and I was working part-time, waiting for my newly minted PhD husband to get hired somewhere (please, anywhere!) as a college professor. Working just 20 hours per week, I had plenty of time to explore San Diego. I bought a gym membership at the University of California, San Diego, and spent a lot of time there, self-guided, trying all the classes and training myself based on what little I knew about movement and the body.
The yoga class I attended first and most regularly was likely hatha, a good choice for a beginner. I didn’t have any expectations or preconceived notions, which is probably a good way to approach yoga—or any new activity, for that matter. The moves felt exotic to me, an athlete whose scope of training barely extended beyond a swimming pool, a track and a weight room. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. It didn’t fit into my youthful notions of what I thought a workout should be.
Over the years, I’ve tried different styles of yoga, but always because friends invited me to go with them or because it landed at my feet. I never sought it out. Vinyasa appealed because of the flow and repetition. While it felt like poetry in motion, the breathing challenged me in ways I can’t begin to describe. I still don’t breathe well, even at rest. I loved Bikram, because I’m always cold. Feeling so cozy, warm and flexy (and barely perspiring) while others were sweating their brains out made me feel kind of guilty and like I was somehow missing the point of it. I’m sure I was!
I tried kundalini here at IDEA once recently and was a sobbing, emotional mess by the end of it. All that breathing and panting struck some deep visceral chords in me that I wasn’t prepared to hear or feel.
Reading the yoga feature in this issue has inspired me to re-explore the practice with new and more mature eyes. And most certainly with a more mature body that could use a little less pounding and more deliberate focus on mobility, stability, balance and breath work for better overall performance in life. My posture could stand a tuneup, too.
As author Helen Vanderburg puts it, what holds us back and limits movement is complex and uniquely individual. “Fitness professionals can guide clients and participants to overcome these limitations and achieve optimal performance in everyday life or athletic endeavors through various training methods. Yoga, as both a philosophy and a physical practice, is one valuable tool to consider integrating into your training programs to help clients find and release tension—and thus discover more efficient movement.”
If you’ve integrated yoga into clients’ training programs, have you found this to be true? What else have you learned? If you haven’t woven in yoga yet, maybe after reading this piece you will try. Join me on the journey and share your progress as it unfolds.
Breathe easy, all. Happy 2019!
Sandy Todd Webster
EDITOR IN CHIEF