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Disbelief, derision and the healing power of yoga

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Yoga never ceases to amaze me.

Yet a mere three years ago, yoga was a foreign being to me.

At that time, I think it is fair to say I was a gym junkie.

Twice a week I sweated it out during boxing classes, and another two times I pushed my way through boot-camp style circuit classes.

Back in the (boxing) day

Back in the (boxing) day

Yoga was just something I had heard about from a few concerned health professionals, suggesting it would be beneficial to my body and it’s issues.

I had even gone so far as to try a class once or twice, but could not for the life of my understand the point of it. I mean, you don’t burn any calories during an hour-long class. So why bother?

Then there was the whole needing to quieten your mind thing. I was a miserable failure at this.

Sometimes though life, the universe, and our bodies have a way of conspiring against us.

After reaching the peak of my own personal fitness mountain, I was on a high in more ways than one. Gotta love those endorphin rushes!

But my body started to arch up. It seemed to grow tired of giving me clues which I resolutely ignored.

Whilst the GP insisted the need for two hip and one knee operation before I turned 40 was “purely coincidental”, the truth was the effects of osteoarthritis had began to wreak havoc with my joints.

My knees look like theones on the right, but with a lot less of the white stuff.  Photo courtesy of tdscentral.com

My knees look like the one on the right, but with a lot less of the white stuff.
Photo courtesy of http://www.tdscentral.com

I won’t dwell on the pain I was in 2011/12.

Suffice to say I acquired myself a rheumatologist and a truck load of heavy-duty meds.

During this bleak period, my sister cleverly challenged me to try a ‘power’ yoga class.

Promising that in a Vinyasha power flow class, there would be sweat and lots of it.

I can’t remember exactly what I said to her in response. I suspect I snorted in derision.

But I took up the challenge. And I have never looked back.

Wanderlust yoga festival

“Thanksgiving Tree” Wanderlust yoga festival

In that first class some amazing things happened.

Yes I did indeed sweat. In fact I sweated buckets.

Make no mistake, this is not a bikram /hot yoga class. While the room is a very comfortable 26 degrees, the sweat really comes from the sheer hard work of getting into some of those poses.

More astonishing to me than the sweat, was the fact that for the first time for as long as I could remember, if not EVER, my mind was quiet.

Completely consumed by attempting to learn and move into the various asanas (poses for you non-yogis) there was no space in my mind for anything else.

Picture that. No white noise, no incessant chatter, no stressing over things.

I was, what I know now to be, mindful. Present in the moment.

Photo courtesy of www.humanhealth.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.humanhealth.com

There is one more thing about yoga at which I continue to marvel.

Yoga is said to be ‘healing’ by more than one person.

I am no expert, but what I do know is after a few months of yoga I no longer needed prescription meds.

I also know that last month, despite the advice of my knee surgeon, I decided to go for a run on a treadmill.

I had been feeling so good for a relatively long time, why not push the boundaries a little?

Immediately after said run, my knee started ceasing up and locking every time I tried to stand. Upon standing, it would immediately give way beneath me.

And I was back in the pain game.

The next night I hobbled my way up the stairs to try out the new style (for me) of a Hatha yoga class.

Photo courtesy of yoga.org.au

Photo courtesy of http://www.yoga.org.au

I don’t think the instructor wove any particular magic in the class.

There was no suspicious aromas floating around the room that I couldn’t identify.

But magically, by the end of the class, my knee pain and issues were gone.

I cannot explain it.

Nor can I explain how last night I apparently needed to sob my way through a class; and how today my shoulder pain that took me off to the physio earlier this week, has all but disappeared. *

If you are a committed gym junkie as I was, I suspect there is no way I, or anyone else, can convince you of the merits of yoga.

If however you find yourself in a place where your body starts yelling “no more” then I urge you to try a yoga class.

At the very least, you will probably enjoy the rest at the end we call Shavasana.

Photo courtesy of yogadivinity.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.yogadivinity.com

Namaste.

Ali

 

* Disappeared until the next installment occurred in a battle I am having with a certain Telco. Then it came roaring back. A story for another blog…

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