Developing a Sustainable Yoga Practice
When I first came to the yoga mat in 2001, I wanted to learn how to develop a safe, comfortable, sustainable yoga practice. I’d spent most of my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s in cardio and weight lifting classes at the gym.
By the time I was approaching age 50, my joints were starting to feel the strain of ‘no pain, no gain’ fitness thinking. While I wanted to continue to stay fit, flexible, and strong, I was determined NOT to risk unnecessary wear and tear on my body this time around.
So, I studied with yoga teachers
who knew about alignment.
I learned how to feel the way my body distributed its weight either evenly or unevenly…and why that ‘noticing’ might be important to balance. I learned, for example, that my toes needed to be pointed a certain way so that the rest of my body stayed in a position that was safe for all its joints, bones and muscles.
My teachers showed me how to use blocks, blankets, straps and other props. They offered alternate versions, or modifications, of basic yoga poses to accommodate where my body was ‘right now’. The poses I did might not have looked exactly as those featured on the pages of YOGA JOURNAL, but my versions gave me the same physical benefits while keeping me in safe alignment.
They also taught me how to notice my breath and let it show me whether I was going farther than my body wanted to go that day, or not. I had heard those words, ‘listen to your body’, so often in the classes at the gym, but never before knew that the breath was the language my body used to communicate its needs to my brain. They guided me on pathways to meditation and other practices to help calm my mind.
My yoga teachers kept teaching, and I kept learning.
My interest in yoga and meditation became so strong that I eventually enrolled in the teacher training program at my home studio, Yoga from the Heart, where I earned my 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) certification. This was not the ending, of course, but just the beginning of more learning.
I am grateful to now have the opportunity to share yoga’s gentle wisdom as I teach a new class on Mondays at 4 p.m. at my home studio, Yoga from the Heart. Called “Mindful Movement”, the class starts January 8, 2018.
If you, like me, want to find ease, strength, flexibility and peace on the mat at whatever stage of life you’re in, please join me on Monday afternoons. Beginners welcome!
Writer: Dianne Ochiltree is a graduate of Yoga from the Heart’s Teacher Training Program, a 200-hour RYT with the Yoga Alliance, and has happily served as Lynn Burgess’s teaching assistant at weekly gentle yoga classes for Parkinson’s disease students. She is also a children’s author and freelance editor (www.dianneochiltree.com).