When I first signed up for an exercise program at the YMCA more than sixteen years ago, Yoga was my first exercise of choice. But, I walked away. Why? I was . . .
- Embarrassed about the inability to lift or lower my body to do the floor poses; and
- Fearful to let others know about this physical limitation.
Recently, this changed. First, let me share my story. Several months ago while perusing the Internet, I came across an article on Chair Yoga DVDs for the elderly and people with disabilities. Immediately, I went to my favorite online source for DVDs, www.amazon.com, and ordered three — “Easy Yoga for Arthritis,” “Chair Yoga: A Seated Practice,” and “Yoga for Us.”
Looking to share my happiness, I e-mailed a friend who has practiced Yoga for a number of years. She cautioned against trying to do this on my own. Her advice, which I respect and value, was to find a Yoga instructor who could show me the proper way to do the poses and lessen the chance of getting an injury.
Following my friend’s suggestion, I discussed my dilemma with a personal trainer at the YMCA. She urged me to attend one of the upcoming Yoga Issues classes. Mind you, she said the Yoga Issues class was “low key” and designed to meet the special needs of people with “issues” that prevented them from taking a traditional Yoga class.
Imagine my surprise when I entered the class. There were No Chairs. Well, One Chair was in the middle of the room. But, surrounding the One Chair were people sitting on a variety of vibrant and colorful Yoga floor mats. All appeared quite comfortable in their Cross-Legged seated poses. The ONE CHAIR, I assumed was for me. So, I claimed it. This “issues” group performed poses comparable to the ones I had observed while peeking through the window of the Yoga class at the YMCA in my former hometown years ago.
In looking around the room, like me, there were,
- elders in the class;
- several people were overweight; and
- others may have had “invisible” disabling conditions.
But their “issues” did not seem to limit their abilities.
I sit in the CHAIR, fearful and embarrassed. I watched the flexible and pliant bodies of people with supposed “issues” effortlessly bending, reaching, rising, lifting and twisting their bodies as they did the various Yoga poses. Following the lead of others, I attempted, when possible, to do the poses in a sitting position. I was embarrassed by my performance.
Disappointed, but not defeated, I returned to the class the following week. Alone, in a far corner of the room, and leaning against the wall was the CHAIR. I claimed the CHAIR. Clearly, no one else in the class would ever need a CHAIR. Naturally, I did not seek a spot in the center of the room. The CHAIR and I went to the farthest corner in the rear of the studio. I placed my Yoga mat in front of the CHAIR for the comfort of my feet. Unlike the first class, I chose to do the standing poses without the assistance of the CHAIR.
Then, it was time to do the floor poses. I sat down in my CHAIR. After several poses, the CHAIR slowly started to lower toward the floor. I prayed no one would notice. But, the CHAIR kept moving down, down, down until my “buttocks” ever so lightly touched the floor. Several people came to offer help. Pride made me say NO. I did not want people standing around trying to figure out how to get me up. .
Instead, I remained on the floor. To my surprise, with a bit of effort and a little pain, I got through the poses. Independent, of any help, I brought my body to an upright standing position.
Now, I don’t want to oversell. While I lifted, reached and twisted, this body did not always end up where it was supposed to go. Touching my toes and sitting in a Cross-Legged pose are at the very top of my “Yoga Goal List.”
I am a little nervous about going to the next class. But, FEAR and EMBARRASSMENT, are no longer problems. After years of dreaming, I am grateful to finally have Yoga in my life.
Thank you CHAIR for breaking and gently guiding me to the right place.
I Choose to Rise