Staying Healthy

(C) 2020 JJ Shaun
Yoga Poses

On Tuesdays, I spend an hour on my yoga mat with a dozen or so other hearty and aging souls on a mission to stay healthy. About eight to ten years ago, a lunchtime yoga class was offered at the job for a reasonable fee.

I’d taken a yoga class or two in the past that darn near killed me, but I was still game to give it a try when it came around. The instructor came in ready to teach a dozen or so sedentary office workers beginning yoga. It turned out to be the perfect class for many of us. At least ten of us stuck with the class until our little company got eaten by a bigger company, and the lunch class ended.

Because the instructor kept us informed using email, she was able to tell anyone interested in continuing to practice with her. I practice with a different group of people now, so I’ve made some new friends, but I still go. I keep trying to get some of my old friends to join me, but everyone has an excuse or other favored activity. That’s fine. I just know that after a yoga session, my body feels so much better than when I went in, and I want to share that feeling.

Of course, to get the most benefit from my practice, I should hit my mat daily. I would certainly be able to hold a plank pose a bit longer if I did. And I would probably save a few bucks with the chiropractor. I know the benefits of a more regular practice. I simply need to do it.

So, what is yoga? The answer to that depends on whether you refer to a philosophy or a form of exercise.

In India, yoga is one of the six Hindu schools of philosophy and has been around for thousands of years. In much of America and Europe, yoga is mostly a form of exercise.

I attend a class that is a type of Vinyāsa Flow Yoga, which is just one of many yoga variations. We practice not only movement but work with our breath and meditate while in class. Like many Americans, I’m not good at being “present” or in the moment. My mind is always going a gazillion miles an hour thinking about this event, that person, or what I need to get done by next Thursday. Yoga class is one place I try to be mindful.

Yoga can help get your body relaxed for sleep. I found a bedtime practice on YouTube for those nights I have a touch of insomnia. If you haven’t tried yoga before, I recommend you take a beginner’s class. If you don’t perform some of the poses correctly, you could hurt yourself. Not every body can bend and twist the same way. Just because the instructor can fold into lotus pose, doesn’t mean your hips will let you do the same—especially if you’re starting out.

We all find the fitness activities we want or need. I practice yoga, bowl on a league, and live in a place that requires me to be active. If I’ve learned anything in all my years, I’ve learned that to stay young, you need to keep moving.

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