This is my unbridled raw testimony of my yoga personal journey.
Firstly, a little context about me .... I'm happily married, 49 year old with 5 children, self proclaimed sexy, pre M'd, hot flashing, two steppin' memory, hormone raging, wine sippin', Lil fat rolls a pudgin' woman. That being said, It seemed reasonable, that rather than committing a heinous crime in one of my mood swings, i should attempt to find a way to embrace this cruel bodies life's changes with some grace and style..... So, I decided to start this apparent mid life body and mind changing journey (that's what my friends told me) of yoga.
At this time in my life, I am extremely fortunate to have hired a personal instructor.
She is staying with me in our home/eco resort located in the Philippines. After the loss of our eldest son in 2011, it prompted us to a life change. We sold pretty much everything in our life from Canada, spun a globe and decided where our finger lands, that's where our new life journey would begin. (True story) It landed on the Philippines, and we fell in love with the tiny island of Tablas, we now call home. Our new life of adventures began in 2012.
I started this mind and body transformation little over 7 weeks ago. After speaking with friends who practice on regular basis, and encouragement from my wonderful husband, I decided I wanted to try some type of yoga life changing type practice. I honestly knew very little about the fundamentals of the different disciplines. I had tried Bikram yoga many years ago, and kinda liked it. I will say, back in the day, I did slightly feel discouraged as it seemed every person in the sweltering heated room in practice was so bendy and toned, that I felt I was the flailing walruses of the room.
So that lasted about 2 weeks of a few classes, several years ago. So, as I now turn 49, beginning the true Pre M horrors, I wanted to become more body aware. To take control of what and how my body was changing with diet and a new approach to exercise. (How did losing 10 lbs, and not smothering your husband in bed while you go from hot to cold as he won't give up the blanket, become the most crucial life decisions. ) I placed an ad on a very wonderful Yoga employment website, and had huge success with its applicants.
How does one choose a good instructor, with all the experience and compassion an midlife aging women needs? To understand her mood swings, fat days, and many wine & chocolate nights without judging. Yes, it was going to be a gamble, as each yogi had amazing credentials, eager and willing to to take on the challenge to be this middle aged, beginner yoga, person's private instructor. So I chose what I thought to be the best fit for me, as I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best non judgy yogi.
My lovely instructor is from Poland, Yogi Kat, with an amazing and colourful life, that led her to becoming a yoga instructor. I felt an immediate and comfortably easy connection, and she seemed willing to come into my chaos of a mid life pre-M insanity, embrace the life we created here, and just enjoy the experience. She taught Vinyasa flow.
Agreeing to that practice, I was thinking "all the yoga is pretty much all the same, right?...... yeah....OK. The first days, at the beginning of the practice, I was excited but knew very very little about the total style and discipline of Vinyasa Flow. Only from the photos of toned, beautiful young women and men posted from instagram.
Yes, I thought, I wanna be that bendy girl! I knew I wanted to be a new yogi, and learn these amazing skills and positions that endured higher level of dedication and commitment to one's self. Needless to say, as optimistic as I was, it was a rocky start for my body and mind.
Child birth was hard, squeezing into my Jeggings is harder, and this well... This twisty, bendy, breathing shit... be real hard! Even to do the basic upward and downward dog thing, was met with burn and resistances from my arms for days.
My body hated me, it was twisted and challenged every minute of the practice. I cursed my instructor both internally and externally. (People
who know me know this is very true). Death eyes were a constant gaze. She was unfazed and keep me moving forward, challenging me with every position. Hold longer, go deeper, breathe.....
"No you breathe bitch, I wanna stab you in the face".
"Do actual, non internet, perfect looking, and toned people really truly love this painful, self inflicting exercise", I thought as my yogi Kat sat in meditation chanting "OM".
My thoughts wandered, " how many calories have I burned, how much wine should I have since I burned so many, why is the dog now wanting to be humping the cat, god I hate flies touching me, I really want ice cream", I need to put mud tires on the truck", that coupled with not really understanding the benefits of the silence, the first few times chanting I actually felt a little silly. I really really want to be "that person", who can proudly say they practice yoga, and has adopted it as a part of their lifestyle, but somehow all these challenges seems to make it difficult.
As the weeks went by, I started to feel less and less silly, and actually looked forward to the mantras beginning and end class. Funny, as I'm trying to focus through the guided mediation, her soothing voice became very intrusive into my thoughts and I was actually able to focus on the directions being softly spoken. It was a nice break from all the burning muscles that seemed to scream for a massage over these weeks.
As the weeks went on, despite my hoping for a typhoon daily to cancel the classes, I can proudly boast that I became stronger in my arms, my fat rolls seemed to part like the red sea when i had to move in a challenging forward position, and the chaturanga and upward & downward dog rounds were less painful. Suddenly, one day as i was so fluent in my vinyasa, that i became very empowered. I even worked my way into one legged chaturanga to upward & downward dog. (Think of lowering yourself to 1"plank, holding the position then rolling yourself forward looking up then back and lifting your ass up to make a triangle) trust me, doing this 6 times slowly is killer!
The challenges still came daily. My body twisting in new, and to what seemed to be simple stretches and movements, turned out to be lessons of contortionistic movements that hurt but feel so good at the same time.
Yoga Life & body lessons to date : sweat and where it drips from , and where it navigates too, is not discriminating.
I've also now began to discover, very painfully of how far my body and mind was willing to go, and then push a little farther. Some days are better than others for certain, but i know that in the end of my yoga commitment with Kat, that this all was for my benefit.
I'm now into week 7, and Despite the personal challenge of the initial movements in my body, I feel that I have become quite the yoga momma over these weeks. My death stares have softened slightly, to admiring "I hate you, but love what you have done for me"....my muscles have become more toned and stronger. I'm actually able to hold many arm asanas now , and I ridiculously feel like a stealthy Ninja or Spider-Man perched in a glamour shot in these amazing strength poses. The quiet smiles and calmly spoken "very good" by Kat is the accolades I desperately need like a child getting approval from a parent. Weird.
I'm empowered, and I actually don't mind my body as much anymore. My mind had become a bit more in tuned to the gratefulness of my life, and to live exactly in the moment. I feel that every stretch mark I see in the mirror now, every fat roll I move out of harm's way, or every grey hair I see but don't pluck immediately now, is a badge of honour. It took me 49 years to earn them, and now to love and embrace them.
My wonderful husband always lives his life in every moment. Years of military service has taught him to appreciate every personal moment. I thought I got what that meant, but I didn't until til now. Becoming self aware is quite scary and makes you raw and vulnerable. I finally got what he meant when he would say, "baby, live for this very moment, it will only happen once."
Damn.. I'm a yogi now!
So as my last few weeks wind down with Kat, she has gone from my teacher to my friend and yoga mentor. I'm determined to continue the practice when I'm by myself, and if I get a little less motivated, I know she will be only an email away.
Someone really needs to invent "wine yoga". I mean if there's stupid "goat and beer yoga", classy bitches like me deserve wine yoga....
That being said, I am hoping to push farther boundaries within myself, and master the simplest of concepts:
To love myself.
Love my body, and my mind. Truly love every part. Try to see myself as others see me. And learn something new everyday. Teach what I can to others, without it being a burden. Appreciate my life as it is today. For tomorrow isn't a guarantee. Accept others for their choices, forgive quickly, and lastly, Love even myself without condition.
Hot damn, I really am getting it!
So, in the end, I still have the hot flashes, my mood swings are still as as heavy as Thor's hammer, and I still sip my red wine nightly. That hasn't changed. I have. I have become the women I strived to be when I started this. A real one.
Thanks for reading my story.
Yogi name: Red Wine Veera (Hero)