Thursday, 21 August 2014

My First Year Of Practicing Yoga

I have been practicing yoga for a year now, I started my yoga journey while on vacation last summer in Muskoka with my friend Randi.  Our cottage, and that vacation was the perfect place to be reminded of the importance of taking time to reflect, meditate, pray and take care of my body.

When I got home from vacation I started practicing yoga regularly, on my own with some yoga teachers I found on YouTube.  I would set up my mat outside on the back deck or in a our spare bedroom and practice.  Below are some of the best yoga channels I have come across and I am excited to try their new videos when I am no longer pregnant.

Ali Kamenova

Yogi Nora

Ekhart Yoga

After practicing on my own via YouTube and reading a book a friend had given me, I started to feel like I needed more.  I wanted to be challenged and taught so I signed up for some classes at Inner Dawn Yoga.  I was hooked right away, the quality of yoga class far exceeded any class I had taken previously.  Lisa (owner and teacher) was welcoming and passionate about her work.  Lisa's yoga classes were not just about the physical movements, she was also teaching us the meaning of yoga and to understand the connections between the movements of our bodies and the effects of our practice on our minds, and beyond the mat.

For the next few months I practiced, studied, could feel my body become stronger and was experiencing the many positive benefits that yoga can have on an individuals life.  I was less stressed, more grateful, made more time for prayer, and just generally more at ease.  I was feeling great physically and mentally.

And then, I found out I was pregnant.  I continued my yoga practice and other fitness activities and did my best to maintain my activity level as much as possible.  Inevitably though, I started to slow down, at first because of how tired I felt and secondly because of my changing body.

While I could feel myself actively regressing in yoga, I still found practice beneficial.  During this time, more than the previous six months, is when I truly started to understand the purpose and benefits of practicing yoga.  Because I knew there were limitations to what my body could do physically, I started to focus on the mindfulness of my practice, my regression in strength was where I learned my greatest yoga lesson yet.

I couldn't move, sweat and stand on my head as I did before, but I could train my mind to meditate and connect deeper with my body while it moved.  It has been a very humbling journey, the yoga class room is definitely not the place for competition and I would even say there really is no room for competition anywhere in yoga at all, not even with yourself.  Its a practice and lifestyle that enhances you, makes you better for the people around you and allows you to evolve.  I have learned you need to be present with your body each day and wherever it is at that moment, you need to be accepting and grateful for its current ability and the lessons its trying to teach you.

I am so excited to get back on my mat post labour and begin physically challenging my body once more with my yoga practice but I will attack these challenges with a new level of understanding of what my mind and body connected, is really capable of.  I am so glad that I discovered yoga before  pregnancy and continued my practice through this phase of my life, I know it has made me more capable during this journey.

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