Yoga for Non-yogis

The room is dimmed.  My thicker-than-others-yoga-mats-that-makes-me-feel-like-I-bought-the-wrong-type is laid out on the hardwood floor.  Four knit throw blankets are folded into a pile at one end of my mat, with a large purple bolster pillow on top.  The instructor, Shari, instructs the class of 15 (all ages, from late teens, to pregnant women, to retired men and women) to take a deep breath in and on the out all hum “OM” together.  Rather than focus on my breathing and the unison hum, all I think about is how I miss that Gap’s OM perfume was discontinued too soon – BEST. SCENT. EVER.  I collect my thoughts just enough to finish out the “OM” with the class and start to center my thinking again.  I don’t feel bad for letting my mind drift a bit.  I’m not breaking any rules.  It doesn’t make me a bad yogi.  I’m just gearing up for my Restorative Yoga session.

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For the past few years, I have struggled with anxiety and irritability.  Since I’ve been a teacher, having to adhere to a very strict bell schedule for my classes, planning times, and meetings, my anxiety and irritability has increased.  I’ve been on a low dose of citalopram (Celexa) for a couple years.  During my third trimester of pregnancy, my anxiety and irritability kept getting worse.  I had my first panic attack at 32 weeks and was having crying fits at least once a day.  I was thinking I would be an ideal candidate for postpartum depression.  Then the delivery day came.  My anxiety and now depression after delivery was the highest it’s ever been!  Combine all the worrying about my newborn baby in the NICU (he breathed in some of his poopie while tunneling out of my hoo-ha), my concern over losing all of the baby weight after having worked SO hard to lose all my weight before, anxious over how my life would change drastically, nervous that my marriage would be effected, I was a hot mess.

I was looking into postpartum support groups, therapy, upping my anxiety meds, until my sister recommended I try restorative yoga as a means to “collect” myself.  I’ve tried regular beginners’ yoga and was not really a fan of it.  Over the past few years I’ve been a big fan of the idea of mindfulness but have struggled to regularly practice it.  Geez, I even used to teach it to my students.  I wasn’t practicing what I preached.  I decided to give this new idea of RESTORATIVE YOGA a try.

My first class was at a nearby yoga studio.  The instructor was a super nice retired women from the Ukraine.  There was only one other younger gal in the class with me.  The instructor was not very prepared, though, and the studio was a little too new-age for me.  I enjoyed the class but felt like I needed to check out another yoga place.

I found another nearby one that offered a month of unlimited yoga for $40.  My husband and I spend that much money going out to dinner on a Saturday night, so I figured that my mental well-being was worth the cost of a gyro platter at the nearby Greek place.  I signed up for an evening Restorative Yoga class on a Wednesday.  I was nervous because I was such a noob, but I sucked it up and went in.  The instructor was again very nice and helpful.  There were about 20 other people in the class.  I found a spot in the corner so I wouldn’t be spotlighted if I looked less than graceful in my poses.  The duration of the class was one hour and 15 minutes.  We did only 6 poses; all were mostly easy to get into.  Once we got into a pose, the instructor turned off the lights and played some calming/meditative music.  We stayed in each pose for 5-7 minutes.  She instructed us to focus on our bodies and our breathing during each pose.  HOLY CRAP!  It was so soothing and calming.  It was just time to focus on ME.  I had spent so much time focusing on baby V., my family, my job search, what I was going to cook us for dinner that night, how on Earth I was going to get my weight down again.  I didn’t have to think about any of that.  It was my time out.

I came home after my first class and felt completely at ease.  Fast forward to now 7 weeks postpartum and at the end of my trial month.  I no longer feel tied to a schedule.  I find time for me everyday.  I’m calm (most of the time).  I just feel happier and more appreciative of what I’ve been given.  Even though I’m not planning on renewing my monthly membership to this yoga studio because it gets pricey upwards of $100/month, I still plan on doing drop-in classes, some restorative yoga videos or podcasts at home, and continuing to take time away from my duties in the day to just focus on myself.  Sometimes being selfish is just what the doctor ordered.

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