One of the hardest things to do when you haven’t exercised regularly in quite a while is taking that first step. Oh, I have gone for walks, done a little running even, but during the month of July and the first part of August, regular exercise eluded me. I felt far too busy, my to-do list growing longer by the day, to spare the time to workout.
The truth is, it was mostly all an excuse. I just didn’t make the time. And sometimes when you feel out of touch with your body, finding the motivation to move again is challenging.
But when that motivation does come, it sometimes feels like a sweet release — hence the reason I was in tears by the end of yoga class Sunday.
Let me explain — these were not tears of pain. They were tears of kindness, acceptance, a release of a breath I had been holding onto for far too many weeks. Like the ocean that pulls energy in, gathering speed and holding strength inside, I had finally let the waves roll, let the anxiety crash and pool around me. I released the tension and let my body move again.
Nancy Roberts, the instructor of the upcoming Fat Girl Yoga special class I am helping to organize at Yoga Circle in Birmingham, started the class Sunday by reminding us to treat our bodies with kindness and compassion — she used the word ahimsa, which she said literally translates to “not harming.”
While the word relates to a moral code for how we treat one another, Nancy said after class that “we can’t be kind to others until we’re kind to ourselves first.”
This harkens back to the issue of self-care that we are all striving to remember while battling our busy schedules. We so rarely take the time to do something for ourselves, such as the wonderful stretches and strengthening exercises I gifted to my body during yoga class. But this time for caring — not for our children or our husbands or our friends, but the moments we dedicate for ourselves — should be cherished and made a daily, or at least weekly, part of our routines.
For some reason, my yoga practice comes and goes in waves. I wish it weren’t so, because whenever I return to yoga, I remember how amazing it makes me feel. It’s incredible how much my body is capable of doing — despite being overweight or not having worked out consistently in too long. I am still able to move into poses, hold those poses and stretch my limbs and torso in a way that fuels my soul.
Maybe that sounds a little silly to you, or a little too “deep” a feeling to get from an exercise class. But for me, yoga is more than just exercise. It allows me to focus on my breathing, to shut out the worries, to just be inside myself for a moment of peace and calm.
I think that is a feeling I have been seeking for some time now, so when I finished the class Sunday, resting in shavasana, tears sprung to my eyes. It was a feeling of sadness for the stress I’ve been carrying, but also joy for the release that I was feeling. I knew I was capable, that I was strong, that I could take on the stresses of the day-to-day and still remain centered in who I am and what I believe.
I’m not saying that everyone will feel these things when they practice yoga, but I am saying that I need that feeling more often, and I think we all need that time of self-care — of ahimsa — and we should do our best to find that for ourselves each week, even each day in small ways.
I would love for you to join Nancy Roberts and me at Yoga Circle on Aug. 27 at 2 p.m. for a special class of Fat Girl Yoga. Women — and men! — of all shapes and sizes are invited to attend. The drop-in fee is $15.