I see myself in the Fundamental class students. Stiff and groaning, but eagerly stretching and strengthening, we expand ourselves to fill the space of each pose with our untrained but not unwilling bodies.
I’m inspired every time I see the willingness, hope, and optimism in each face. I’ve only been practicing yoga for one year now, and I’m touched by their eagerness over and over as I hear an instruction I never heard before, learn another asana approach, and find another millimeter of space within.
This past year has been an opening, for sure. Each joint seems to have benefited to some extent.
Now I can sit on the floor a bit more comfortably and longer for sitting meditation. Don’t get me wrong, I still sit on 3 folded blankets at the start of class! But I’m allowing what is, working with my tight groins and hips as they are, and letting my legs feel heavy while I lift my torso and create a new space for me to be in.
When I stand waiting in lines, I stand tall. I plant my feet hip width, firm my legs, pull my spine up to the crown of my head and feel my shoulders round back and down. It may sound trivial, but this is a huge change from the hunched-over posture I honed for the first 56 years of my life.
Now I walk with strong and intentional steps, not unevenly placing my left foot out in front of me and swinging my right side body haphazardly on top of my hips, hoping the whole juggling mess would not cause too much back, knee, foot (fill in the blank) pain by the end of the walk. With daily dog walks, this mindful walking has improved my physical and mental state, allowing more of me to be present with myself.
I realize I am at the beginning of a long journey to encourage more flex in my mid and upper back, and my shoulders and hips. I am learning to know my limits, how to tailor the props for my practice, how to take instruction without feeling called out, how to reverse years of misuse or neglect, and instead treat myself with love and compassion.
I was not ready for yoga asanas or philosophy until my late-fifties. I’m not feeling like I started late, but grateful that I started. This opening of joints and strengthening of muscle is working for me now because it’s helping me find a safe space just to be me.
— Ruth Rooney, Adeline Yoga Student