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Monday, December 19, 2005

child pose

Santa Monica Yoga
1640 Ocean Park Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 396-4040
website: www.santamonicayoga.com

Benefits of Yoga

Body Strength and Stamina
Increased body strength and physical stamina are the most obvious benefits of practicing yoga. Muscles and joints grow stronger. The increased muscle tone and improved posture makes you more attractive.

Yoga also concentrates on flexibility. This is one of the major differences between yoga and other forms of exercise. A flexible body is a more comfortable place in which to live. The muscles and joints are more resilient to the jolts and shocks of everyday life. This can help you prevent accidents and injuries.

Rehabilitating and Healing Injuries
Yoga used therapeutically can rehabilitate and heal problem areas. Select exercises that do not re-injure already weakened areas and then use appropriate exercises to strengthen the injured area. Yoga also includes opening up to "healing energy." Be patient. Problems usually do not arise instantly. Instant solutions are rare.

it was a cool spring morning when i first walked into the studio at santa monica yoga. the sun was streaming through an open window and it nicely warmed up the small room. i picked out a mat from the pile in the corner, found a spot near that window, and lay the mat on the wooden floor. i carefully knelt down and started to sit on my heels. problem was, my knee was so stiff that i couldn't get my bottom to make contact with my right heel. i had always been quite flexible pre-accident, so this was a very discouraging development. previously, i had taken a few yoga classes at the gym and was familiar with the usual poses: down dog, plank, cobra, warrior 1 and 2, as well as my favorite "i need a break" pose, child pose. and now i couldn't even get into child pose without ending up with my butt in the air. argh.

i turned my head to check out the other students in the class. some were dressed in the usual body-hugging yoga attire; many were in t-shirts and sweats. as for myself, i was training to walk the inaugural fargo marathon and had put in some miles earlier that morning, so i had shown up in my running tights and a freshly-changed sport top (out of consideration for my fellow practitioners). i then realized that i had just come up with a great excuse to buy more clothes...

sarah bates, our yoga teacher, walked into the room. she introduced herself, then asked around the room to see if anyone had any health issues. there was an assortment -- backs and shoulders and hips -- and to those, i added my knee. she then cautioned all of us to listen to our bodies, and if any pose felt uncomfortable, to let her know so that she could modify the pose accordingly. i liked that. every now and then, she'd walk around the room and offer a blanket or a block to help provide support. this was definitely different from my gym yoga experience, where the students' "athlete mentality" would essentially make it a competitive event. thank goodness this wasn't the case in sarah's class.

at the end of the ninety-minute session, i felt comfortably stretched and relaxed (laying in savasana has a way of doing that to people), but i really didn't feel that i was challenged enough. i had to quiet down the athlete in me and keep reminding myself that i was still healing; the last thing i wanted was to get reinjured. besides, if their claim that "The increased muscle tone and improved posture makes you more attractive" was indeed true, why wouldn't i want to keep at it?

i rolled up the mat i had been using, put it back on top of the pile, and made a mental note to buy my own. not only did i not relish the thought of laying face down on a mat that someone else had used, but i figured that investing the money in one would commit me to making yoga a part of my ongoing rehab (but then again, i remembered the same issue i had with using a rental wetsuit when i got scuba certified... and when was the last time i went diving in that suit that i had bought??)

i continued to show up to class on saturday mornings after my training walks, and when my introductory pass expired, i decided to give another studio a try.

again, the KCRW fringe benefits card and the internet helped me figure out my next stop, which was to be:

studio - sacred movement yoga
class - the level 1 and 1/2 weekend and evening classes, which worked well with my busy schedule
cost - another new student special: $30 for 30 days of unlimited yoga. and 5-, 10- 15-, and 20-class passes were 15% off with my KCRW card. such a deal!

my journey to wellness through yoga continued...