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I’ve been around the block a time or two. In the fitness world, that is. I’ve spun, stepped, pumped, crunched, boxed. You name it, I’ve tried it. I’ve always thrown in a yoga class here and there, but it never really made an impact on me. Until September 11th, 2006 that is. It was a weird day-I had all this emotion around the tragedy of 9/11 and yet didn’t really know what to do with any of it. I was going through the motions, as we all do some days, and walked into a yoga class. The teacher started with a few words about setting an intention. She acknowledged the general melancholy we were all feeling and suggested we dedicate our practice to the memory of those that were lost and to their surviving loved ones. Throughout the class, she’d say, “take a breath of remembrance.” Something shifted for me that day.

I had never considered that a physical practice or activity could connect me to something deeper. Or that it could give me a way to process painful emotions. I started to feel, as my legs were trembling, and the sweat poured into my eyes, that my efforts could be purposeful. I can tell you, for sure that this never happened in a traditional group fitness class. The only “purpose” I felt then was to shrink my ass. I made a commitment that day to only do yoga for a little while, and see what happened. Years later, with very little exception, I’m still on that path.

What I have gained is a greater connection to all living things including myself. I can practice, during “pretzel-asanas,” getting to a sense of calm in the midst of discomfort. This is a work in progress; of course. Several times a week, I experience the fine balance between flexibility and strength that has changed the way I approach life. The best thing, to me, about yoga is that the benefits happen without any thinking. The less chatter in your head the better able you shall find balance, in all things. Oh and by the way, yoga did shrink my ass.

 

-Elisabeth Wolstenholme

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