I didn’t do a New Year’s Resolution this year, but one got me anyway.
Elise Browning Miller, an Iyengar yoga teacher who specializes in Yoga for Scoliosis, conducted a weekend yoga workshop in Chicago in early January. Egged on by a friend who was also interested, I attended.
I have been to two of Elise’s workshops before, the last one in 2007 in Cleveland. I have used her DVDs (especially her Yoga for Scoliosis DVD (Amazon affiliate link)) and books in my home practice. The Chicago event, at the lovely Yoga Circle, was a teacher training as well as a “Part II” class.
Elise taught some familiar poses and I learned some good tweaks and some advanced poses not in the DVD. We also enjoyed a wonderful teacher:student ratio as Elise instructed the instructors who helped us students. Three items came to be my most important learnings:
- Elise emphasizes lengthening and derotation for scoliosis, and from the corrections she gave me throughout the workshop, I seem to have been better at lengthening and needed coaching on the derotation. My current theme in my home practice is derotation.
- The workshop helped me notice I was not breathing equally into my lungs and ribs. With coaching I brought attention to the lower left of my back, and I expanded my intercostal muscles where my scoliosis compresses my ribcage. Doing so, I could take deeper breaths and experience greater well-being in each breath.
- The biggest take-home lesson for me was how I felt each day of the workshop. My lingering lower back twinges and aches were simply gone. I wanted that feeling to last.
I wanted to learn how to make myself feel that good, that whole, that comfortable in my body on my own. Of course, I already knew exactly what to do – what I had been doing in her previous workshops and with her DVD. Nothing secret or mysterious, just requires the actual doing rather than mental understanding. The answer was obvious: commit to a daily home practice.
I had long wanted to do this and then felt guilty about not doing this….and also resistant, all at the same time. I groused that too many things wanted my daily attention including meditation and other exercise.
I knew from my experience commiting to a daily meditation practice that I had to commit to adding daily yoga in the morning. If I let myself plan for it to be later, I’d stress about it and/or worm out of it somehow. Putting meditation first thing in the morning short-circuited my avoidance mechanisms.
But, I did not think I could wake early enough to do both yoga and meditation each morning before work. So I decided to make an experiment: move my established meditation practice to the evening and start each day with yoga.
I told two friends, one of whom shared her experience that confirmed mine, the other just egged me on (and I knew if I told more people, I’d be committed).
I worried about the earlier alarm in the morning (even with moving the meditation, I still needed to get up earlier). And I’ve never been a happy-wakey person. I’m grumpy and slow and resistant in the morning.
Yet, four days in, I’ve had no trouble whatsoever. I even wake up more easily than before (so far) and I’m finding I have more energy throughout the day.
I look forward to Elise’s return to Michigan April 21-22, to teach Yoga for Back Care, Heart Opening Through Backbends, Forward bends and Twists. Her visit will be hosted by the Michigan Yoga Association. Location and details TBD at this writing.