Yoga Story: Jen
What first brought you to yoga?
I have a chronic condition that impacts my energy and I spent years trying to find a form of exercise that did not make me feel worse. People kept saying things like, “Exercise makes me feel energetic,” which made no sense to me. I kept trying various things hoping I would find something my body would tolerate and possibly find the elusive “It makes me feel better.” Yoga was the first thing that I could do for more than three weeks without making myself feel worse. Every so often, I even find that elusive energized feeling.
What do you love most about yoga?
I have a monkey brain that jumps from one thought to another, which is a blessing in terms of creativity, but not always a peaceful path to travel. Clearing my mind is not one of my strengths and I’ve set aside the idea of “forcing” my brain to be calm, instead letting it run free while I focus on moving and breathing. I walk away from the studio with my mind in a different place, sometimes “better” and sometimes”worse” than where I started, but never where I began. For someone who started yoga for the health benefits, this is an unexpected and fascinating perk.
What is your favorite pose and why?
Anything involving “bound angle pose.” I’m sure there is some deep, psychological explanation for why a hip-opening pose appeals to me and while it is probably entirely true, for me the best part is the physical sensation of the stretch.
What do you do to stay inspired or motivated in your own practice?
Honestly, it is not a challenge to stay committed to a practice routine because stopping for more than ten days makes my body start hurting. Avoiding pain is a fabulous motivator. I have found that having classes I regularly attend helps sustain my routine.
After years of attending classes, I could probably come up with a set of poses to do at home, but that has never appealed to me. There is something liberating in following another’s instructions that allows for deeper relaxation.
Feel free to share anything else if you like.
My guide dog waits in the lobby while I’m in class. When we go to other activities where she is expected to lay quietly and wait for me, she often is not particularly happy about it and can express her displeasure by walking slowly or pretending she doesn’t remember where we are going. With yoga, the instant I grab my yoga bag, her tail starts wagging and she is eager to go. I’m pretty sure that says volumes about the yoga experience.