For years I’ve experienced a deep nagging in my soul to practice yoga. I know the mind, body, and spirit benefits of it, and being an inherently spiritual person, it makes perfect sense for me. However, each time I’ve thought about going to an actual class, I’ve dismissed the idea fearing my incoordination would be disruptive to those around me. (The recurring mental picture is one of me either falling onto the person next to me, screaming an expletive because of pain, or some combination of the two.)
My reluctance is based on past experience trying to do yoga at home via some type of Beginners Yoga CD. Literally every time I’ve tried, I’ve turned it off in the middle, aggravated at not being able to hold the poses being taught. Last time I was so frustrated that I threw out my yoga mat declaring I’d never try again. That is until recently when I decided I am not a quitter (and my doctor suggested I try again to combat the effects of arthritis.)
Because of COVID-19 and being unsure of myself, I decided to look for a locally hosted virtual yoga class. I really want and need help with strengthening my core and my flexibility. I decided to try Louisville’s YMCA 360 with Kiesha. I chose Deep Stretch Yoga Practice, which lasts a little over 27 minutes. There were many other practices to try, but I opted for this because of the stretching. This practice uses two simple tools: a mat and a strap. I had neither (see above disposal of former yoga mat) so I used a towel and a necktie.
I don’t mind admitting that even though I was in the comfort of my own living room, I was nervous to begin. It was tough getting my stiff body on the floor! Kiesha starts out on her knees in “hero’s pose,” which is impossible for me. Thankfully, she immediately mentions to sit in whatever position is comfortable. (This practice can be done seated in a chair if necessary. She offers instruction for this throughout the session).
In a very soothing voice, she begins by explaining the importance of breathing and right away, I learned something new. Deep breathing actually stretches the inside of the body, supports the cardiovascular system and calms the mind. Seated upper body stretching poses were first, which I found very doable. Lower body poses were a bit more challenging for me, but I pushed through. I felt encouraged to keep going each time I successfully held a pose even if it wasn’t perfect.
Kiesha’s peaceful demeanor and clear instructions helped me to want to continue. At times it wasn’t easy, especially the poses that opened the hips, but not once did I feel like quitting. In fact, when I finished, I felt so accomplished and happy, I decided to try it again the following day to see how much my flexibility might improve.
I am happy to report that I have practiced Deep Stretch Yoga online for five days in a row. My balance and coordination are improving; my core feels stronger as I am able to hold the poses longer and deeper; my joints feel less tightness; my breathing is improving and best of all, I want to continue. (Hello, new yoga mat. I see you.)
Virtual JCC (Jewish Community Center): jewishlouisville.org/virtualjcc They offer a number of free yoga classes that are taped, not live.
Yoga Anytime: yogaanytime.com They offer live virtual yoga. There is a free 15-day trial. After this, it’s $18 per month.
Yoga East: yogaeast.org Virtual live yoga classes at $10 per class or unlimited virtual yoga for $69 per month.
By Bobbe Ann Crouch | Photo by Bella Dawn Photography