Have you ever done yoga?

My first yoga class was during my undergraduate years with my roommate Laura. She convinced me to sign up with her as a gym credit. Even in college we were required to have 6 PE credits before graduating. I also took ice fishing and country line dancing but I digress.

The teacher was this long grey bearded gentleman that wore a white toque on his head presumable to keep the sweat from dripping into his beard. I don’t think hot yoga existed yet but maybe RIT originated it with the hundreds of hormonal 19 year olds crammed into a large double gym. Fit the part yogi instructor though bragged how with yoga and meditation he could sleep just 4 hours a night and feel completely rested. (should be mandatory training for new moms!)

Initially the class creeped me out. Half way through we’d have to do some pose or stretch that required the person in front of us. My roommate was NOT in front of me. I would end up with the guy with weird, sock less feet that look like he just came from the podiatrist after a round of wart treatments.

However, despite the heat and the feet, I began to enjoy it and signed up a few more quarters, I think even surpassing my 6 credit minimum.

When I moved to Cleveland for my Masters I sought out another yoga studio. I failed to realize there was different types of yoga at the time. This was not the same yoga from college. This was impossible warrior poses that I loathed. And during the last 20 minutes of meditation, dude behind me always fell asleep and would snore so LOUD. I ended up resenting yoga after that for years and years to come.

I did however discover Pilates which to me is more like Yoga with movement. Instead of holding positions for so many breathes, you pulsed for so many breaths. And even though the finish was the same with mindful meditation and concentrating on chakras, it was void of snoring.

Throughout my 2nd pregnancy I continued with Pilates in a small studio with crazy machines that made you think “what came first, S&M or Pilates?” This also cost a pretty penny and postpartum transitioned into a Pilates mat class; no weird apparatuses necessary.

Fast forward now well over 10 years from my last yoga encounter and I found myself on a family vacation in Costa Rica with my husband, 4yr, 2yr and 9 week old child. If you’re not aware, Costa Rica is the mecca for yogis. The airbnb apartment we happened to be renting was from the owner of the Intercultural school 100 yards away that offered yoga every morning in Spanish and English. My husband and I took turns attending these classes in an outdoor veranda overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Life doesn’t get much better than that!

Almost immediately after we warmed up with our first round of sun salutations, I swear I heard my body say “thank you.” It was like it remembered those favored yoga classes from the mid ’90s. It responded well and with ease. There was no loathing, no snoring, no creepy feet. Just people from all over the world connecting in this one area to be peaceful and clear the mind.

I miss that feeling.

Oddly enough, my kindergartner has had several lessons in yoga at school and Santa just happened to put a Yoga for Families DVD in her stocking. We’ve done it only twice so far despite almost every week saying we’re going to do it “tomorrow”.

So for week 8 it’s yoga (or Pilates). Aim for at least 20 minutes. My hope is to wake early and start my day with it, however, yoga with a 6 and 4 year old isn’t as bad as you think. Just a little less mindful. I plan on using a few DVD’s I’ve collected over the years but there’s many online resources; just type in free yoga videos in google or FB. Here’s one I just found on youtube: Yoga with Adriene. And if you’re injured, pregnant, both, type those things in too. I must admit, the best practice if you’ve never done yoga is in the studio with a great instructor who will correct posture when need be.

The health benefits of yoga are a mile long and worth it’s own post. However, don’t just think stress management. Think reduced blood sugars if you have diabetes, decreased blood pressure, weight loss, and enhanced sleep. Who couldn’t use that?

So from February 27 to March 5th, I’ll catch you on the mat.

And as always, share away and grab a yoga partner.

See you in FB land at facebook.com/KimLeneghan/ where I’ll try and post some shots of me in halasana pose.