It's no secret that being a mom of three children under 8 is stressful. Aidan does Cub Scouts and has CCD class, not to mention homework and other school related activities. Ava is in dance class and has medical issues a lot of the time. Alivia is only five months old, doesn't sleep through the night a lot of the time and is a lot of work, simply because of her age. I'm also employed full time, so needless to say, I am constantly on the go. My life is semi-chaotic at times and stress levels get to an awfully high level some days. I love my life, I love my kids and I love my family, but every once in a while, it's nice to be able to do something just for me.
A few months ago, I saw a post where my friend Kristina had tried a warm yoga class and liked it a lot. Something told me that it might be something I could try and might possibly like, too. So one Saturday morning, I went to Hot House Yoga with her in Ormond Beach and tried hot yoga for the first time. I had not exercised in probably 5 years when I went to that class. I struggled through it and was amazed at what the people around me were able to do. I thought, there is NO WAY I will ever be able to do that, through several of the poses. But I tried. And the next two days, I could hardly move I was so sore. But it was a good feeling. I felt so relaxed and re-focused after that class. I knew had to go back for more.
A few weeks later, I joined the gym across the street from my work. I wanted to try a few of the cardio classes they offered and was wonderfully surprised when I saw the yoga studio they had inside. My gym has a fantastic kids' room as part of their membership and I am able to drop all three of my kids off there and work out whenever they are open. I started doing just that on Saturday mornings and tried their yoga class. I was so happy that I was able to find a yoga class so close to home, as Hot House is quite a drive for me. Now, three months later, not a Saturday goes by that I don't literally yearn to go to yoga class. They offer it throughout the week as well and I try to get to as many classes as I possibly can. I've already made great progress in my yoga practice and every time I go, I am able to do a little bit more than I was the last time.
After having three children, I struggled with back pain almost daily. My sciatic nerve pain on my right side was so unbearable at times, I would have to lay in bed on a heating pad all day and pop ibuprofen like candy just to be able to move. I would try to stretch out the nerve and the muscles on my own, but it never seemed to last very long before I was all tense and in pain again. Now, three months after starting yoga, my back pain is almost non-existent. I still get tense in my back and have to stretch it out and take some Advil to get it to release, but I fully believe that my yoga practice has helped stretch those muscles to alleviate the pain I was experiencing. The more yoga I do, the less pain I experience in my sciatic. One time in class, I was doing a certain stretch and heard a very loud popping sound coming from my lower back. It startled me, but at the same time, it felt so good. Whatever it was that "popped" that day has given me so much pain relief in my sciatic.
Another benefit I've experienced from yoga is the stress relief. I leave that class more calm and collected than I was just 90 minutes before. All of the stress and worry and anxiety I felt over the week before just seems to melt away and I leave that class feeling ready to take on another week. I suffer from extreme panic attack disorder. I have for most of my adult life. Yoga has also helped me in that I have had a significant reduction in the amount of panic attacks I have during the week. There was a point in my life where I would have up to four major panic attacks in one day. No amount of medication I would take would make them stop. And if you've ever experienced a panic attack, you know that they leave you feeling as if you've run a marathon. They physically exhaust me. Since starting yoga, I sometimes don't have one at all, or will have only a mild one here and there. I have not experienced one debilitating panic attack since I started going to yoga. That in itself is invaluable to me.
Now, let's talk about the other great thing that has happened because of yoga... my strength and flexibility have been dramatically improved, that's a given. But I've also lost about 10lbs. since I started. I know I would lose more weight if I would follow a healthier diet, too and I'm working on that part.Sort of. I have always been and will always be a self-proclaimed foodie. I love to eat and I have the biggest sweet tooth so that will be my ultimate challenge is learning how to change the way I eat. I may never change the way I eat, but I feel that at least I'm exercising now, so it's better than eating like I was and not doing any exercise at all. I'll get there... but I've also quit smoking for over 2 months now. One crutch at a time. First the cigarettes, then the junk food. I'll get there.
Here are some of the poses I am able to do in yoga now... at 225 lbs and 5'9" tall, I can do these poses. Who would have thought? Not me! But I can, and I am proud of how far I have come in my practice already. One day I'll be able to do some more challenging poses, I know I'll get there. But, again, here is just a small sample of what I have been able to accomplish so far. There are others I have been able to do as well, but I am most proud of plow pose at this point. I never thought I could do it and surprised myself when I did for the first time a few weeks ago.
So there you have it. My little weekly escape. Yoga. And I plan on escaping to it as often as I possibly can!