My entire life I said Yoga sucks and my body just wasn't made to stretch.....I tried yoga years ago and hated it. I wasn't designed to stretch like others and I accepted that and moved on. Until a month ago.....
The first class a few weeks ago:
I was anxious walking in the darkened yoga room. I was scared the heat would drown me. That the smell of others body oder in a confined space and sweat would disgust me. That the germs floating around a hot room of humans would make me want to leave. The thought of being the "worst" in the room at an activity and literally being clueless to the names of the poses and what others are doing would be enough to make me regret this decision.
The pain I felt stretching was real and not the good kind of pain I felt lifting weight or pushing myself in cardio growing up training for soccer. But the bad kind of pain....like something is going rip. To sit still on a mat and stretch was feeling like an absolute waste of time. In my mind I just wasn't built to stretch just like some people are 5ft tall and no matter what they do they will never be 6ft tall. I truly believed it couldn't be changed. But I made myself a promise so I was going to stay in this class no matter what.
So many thought racing through my mind as I am trying to follow along to the teachers instructions. I stayed in the class, clueless, copying everything my friend did next to me (even eventhough I couldn't do even half the things that came so easily to her.) As the class went on I felt slightly looser and by the end, to my surprise, maybe another inch closer to my toes. Still a far distance but closer. Looks like my theory I swore by was wrong and everyone else was right. Flexibility can be changed, even for someone as inflexible as me..
Why I decided to give it a try:
I have been told repeatedly that my neck (history of herniated discs causing SEVERE pain), lower back pain caused by nerve impingment and misalignment, and posture issues all stem from my crazy inflexible hamstrings. I found this to be BS for the past 38 years but decided to challenge myself on this and just maybe I could have been wrong with my theory.
I trusted both the opinions of my chiropractor and my trainer of 4 years. My trainer had helped propel me past many other fitness limitations and walls I created in my mind that I viewed as unchangeable. After having 3 kids via c-secion, 3 abdominal hernias, and a series of life threatening infections that weakened my body beyond repair a few years back. I was very fearful of being in the gym again. But after 4 years of work three days a week with him I found trust in the process as my strength greatly improved and I was able to do the things I thought I would never do again like getting back into kickboxing and playing soccer with my kids. So I trusted his opinion.
My chiropractor (Dr. Silvio Cozzetto from Be Well Lifestyle Centers in Birmingham) did some powerful adjustments to my back when I first started working with him. I was very nervous about it at first but I literally went from severe pain to feeling nearly fine in 5 hours. I had seen other chiropractors for years and never had this kind of relief. So he had my ear when he said things after that. Plus he shared similar view points as me on food and nutriention. A topic I have invested much of my life to learning about. I have gained much respect for his opinion about these topics after having such huge personal gains in muscle/skeletal balance after working with him.
I decided for 8 weeks I will take their advice and work on my flexibility for 1 hour a day and see if it is changeable. And see if my back, neck, and posture improve.
I started stretching on my own, my husband would find me in random rooms in my house just stretching against furniture or walls. I would stretch with my trainer during weight training sessions. I also went to my chiropractor multiple times a week to work specifically on stretching where I learned some new weighted stretching exercises to incorporate at home. To my complete surprise within a week I could get about 2 inches closer to my toes.
I preach to my kids if you want to be good at anything than you need to practice it. It's time I really dive into my own advice. I wanted to see if there was something that could push me even further. Since I trusted both my trainer and chiropractor and they BOTH had told me countless times to do yoga and stretch. I thought maybe they are right and being in a warm room doing yoga (even though I hated it) might help get me a little closer to my goals. Plus, some of my close friends swear by yoga so I thought I would give it a try. I believed I would hate the class but I promised myself I would do whatever it takes for 8 weeks so I decided to give it a try.
3 things that encouraged my negative self talk all these years:
1. As a kid in PE class year after year I wouldn't get the "presidents" challenge award that probably went to 20% of the students in the grade for competing a certain number of athletic things like running a mile under a certain time, maybe a flexed arm hang etc. I could do every single activity listed without a sweat but couldn't touch my toes so I didn't "PASS". It always pissed me off and I thought it was stupid to be included.
2. Growing up sports like skiing, swimming, and pretty much any activity that included a ball I was pretty good at naturally. To be great at it that just meant practicing. It has always been easier to practice something for me when you already kind of get it naturally. On the other hand yoga and stretching I just sucked at.. My toes have eluded my finger tips my entire life. So I never did it.
3. I was a former full scholarship division 1 athlete so clearly I could make it in sports without being flexible so flexibility didn't matter.
Life Lessons learned:
I think more than the stretching, my biggest hurdle to yoga was embracing the fact that I just flat out sucked at it and being cool with that. Being cool knowing that I am a beginner and I have a long way to go. I guess in so many things in life I started off running so learning to sprint came easily. In yoga I started off just "crawling" and for a long time I was NOT ok with that until now. I actually find it enjoyable to know that I have so much to learn and get better at. That I am nowhere near where I want to be and that is ok. Its ok just wanting to enjoy the journey. That there is no end. It keeps me excited in the process.
Anytime I do not want to do something I ask myself, "what would you do if you know you couldn't fail?' I can't be ok with not trying something and missing out on things just because I might suck at it or be scared. I will not let fear guide my life and my choices. I refuse. (Read my other blogs to find out how I came to this life mantra). I no longer view where I am at yoga as failing but just a mark on the road for where I currently am. With that mind set I feel like I can take on anything I have ever wanted to try and enjoy it. So thank you yoga for teaching me this life lesson!
It has been 3 weeks I can now touch my toes!! 8 inches in flexibility gained!! I’m very interested to see where my flexibility will be when I hit the 8 week mark.