I was thumbing through Ladies’ Home Journal the other day*, not because I identify with their “Ladies’ Who Lunch from the 1950s” target market, but because I was waiting the requisite 30 minutes post allergy shot, and the only reading material available was a dog-eared and sticky issue from 2005. (Because why shouldn’t a doctor’s office have magazines newer than 2008?)
This magazine cracks me up. Who lives in these Ladies’ worlds? Where is this enchanted land where all people are pretty-in-an-unthreatening way, and live in perfectly clean, decorated homes with perfectly behaved children? Perhaps the lady of the house is a kindergarden teacher, or she makes bread every day from scratch. But one thing is for sure: She always, always, enters every room offering a freshly-baked pie.
I began to feel inferior on page 78, where a serene looking mom of five (!) was describing how she made personalized napkin holders for her guests at her dinner parties. (At parties at my house, napkins are an afterthought – I generally toss around a roll of paper towels and yell, “Here, grab one!”) Plus, I saw a picture of her pantry, and she had not one blue box of macaroni and cheese! I felt an urge to go home and put up window treatments. Or organize my linen closet. (Which I quickly dismissed because just the thought of both options exhausted me.)
These people really need yoga.
Based on the other articles offered in the magazine, I gathered that the being one of the “Ladies” required much organization and selflessness. In between “Walking off 10 Pounds,” and “How to Give Him Intimacy” (intimacy = code for sex, for those of us not in the know,) I spotted an article on how to stay calm during moments of stress. Among several techniques was this gem: Take notes during intense conversations.
I was floored. First of all, I suspect if a significant other whipped out a notepad during a knock-down-drag-out, the effect would probably not be calming. Second, not anywhere in this article was the mention of breathing or yogic techniques for stress reduction. (Although there was a suggestion to see your doctor to see if you’d qualify for adult ADHD medication!)
Almost every medical professional or website out there touts the benefits of yoga for stress reduction, strength and health. As a yogi myself, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without my yoga practice: I’m pretty sure I’d be way more of a mess than I am now. 😉
But here’s the thing: While the bliss of yoga seem instantaneous after a particularly delicious class, it’s not a quick fix or magic pill: It is a process, one which takes time – and one day, voila, you realize that the work you do on the mat is beginning to effect your daily life. Perhaps you might notice you don’t feel wounded when someone cuts you off in traffic. Or, you may have a different perspective during an intense conversation (no notepad needed!). You might even find yourself living a life that is less affected by past trauma or events.
In my own practice, I don’t recall when it happened, but I now possess an ease – in life, with family, in work – that wasn’t there even three years ago. I attribute much of this ease to yoga.
So keep coming to the mat in 2012; the benefits may be subtle, but they do happen. That’s why they call it a practice.
See you at the studio,
Jen, Twist Yogini from Downtown Edmonds
* In general, I try not to begin sentences with things like: “I was reading Ladies’ Home Journal and…..” This ranks right up there with: “I was listening to John Tesh when…” -or– “I was watching The Lord of The Dance live, when Michael Flatley….” While I try to be hip and cool, doing so betrays my cool mask and displays my true nature: Middle-aged nerd mom.
Just in case you’re not convinced of yoga’s good graces, here’s an excerpt from a recent Mayo Clinic study. Read the full article at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/yoga/CM00004
The potential health benefits of yoga are numerous and may include:
Stress reduction. With its quiet, precise movements, yoga draws your focus away from your busy, chaotic day and toward calm as you move your body through poses that require balance and concentration.
Increased fitness. As you learn and refine new poses, you may enjoy improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. And this means you’re less likely to injure yourself in other physical endeavors or in your daily activities.
Management of chronic health conditions. Yoga might help with a variety of health conditions, such as cancer, depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia, by helping with sleep problems, fatigue and mood. Yoga also can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
Weight loss. If you’re overweight or have binge-eating disorder, yoga may help you make the healthy lifestyle changes necessary to gain control of your eating and drop those extra pounds.
While you shouldn’t expect yoga to cure you or offer 100 percent relief, it can help some health conditions when combined with standard treatment. And if you already enjoy good health, yoga can be an enjoyable supplement to your regular fitness routine.