Posted by: Judy | May 20, 2013

Rethinking a suggestion…

Pandora Viltis suggested I try yoga. I immediately launched into my spiel about my physical therapist banning me from participating. Frightening how well he knew me. He anticipated me hyperextending and doing even more damage to my back. No more yoga.

However, the suggestion kept niggling in the back of my brain.

When I decided to go back to college, years after my last class, my first class was yoga. I had a remarkable teacher. Can I remember her name? No. Did she leave a huge impression on me? Yes. I learned I could do things I didn’t believe I could do. I thought it was kind of stupid when she would tell us, “Don’t forget to breathe.” Who doesn’t remember to breathe? Then one class she was helping me with the Warrior Pose. A twitch here. A tweak there. It was astonishing how little, tiny changes affected me. From behind me, she murmured, “Don’t forget to breathe.” I hadn’t even realized I’d been holding my breath. I breathed, and it was like a whole section of jigsaw puzzle pieces settled into place all at the same time. Awesome.

Unfortunately, it was her last time teaching the Saturday morning class. I didn’t care for the new teacher, and I could never find another I liked as well.

I’ve never forgotten her advice to think of a string tied to the top of your head, toward the back, so it aligns with your back, then lifting your head like someone is pulling on the string. I’ve done this for years, when I remember.

When my physical therapist banished me from yoga, I wasn’t hurt or disappointed. I was kind of relieved. I didn’t need to keep trying to find someone I liked even half as well as my first teacher.

Various people have suggested yoga since. Why it made a difference coming from Pandora, I don’t know. I only know I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then it dawned on me that what I loved was the stretching. Funnily enough, I don’t stretch much. I think part of it has been the fear of hurting myself.

However, lately, I’ve been making an effort to stretch a bit every day. I’m more aware of that string at the top of my head, but I’m also stretching my fingers and try to remember to stretch my legs before I roll out of bed in the morning. Another lesson in “just because I can’t do it all doesn’t mean I can’t do some.”


  1. Stretching a little at a time makes a huge difference for me. I also appreciate the reminder to breathe. “Feeling blue, Breathe.”

    • 🙂

  2. I love yoga. Everything feels easier after some stretching and focus and breathing. They offer many levels around me, from ‘gentle’ to ‘Oh heck no, that will hurt for a week’. I have to modify every single pose, having a fused spine and weak leg. I use props and chairs and towels to help. I learned from a “Yoga Mama” video, when I was first pregnant and my back was screaming, thinking that would be the lowest impact and might offer relief. I still do those poses, (my belly looks early pregnancy still, grr) though not as often as I should. I love your last line! My new motto to combat perfectionism – I can do some.

    • 🙂 I think the biggest problem — now that I’m being more honest with myself — is I haven’t found a teacher I like as well as my first teacher. I’ve owned a variety of tapes, attended a variety of classes, and none come close to the feeling I had in that class.

  3. I know what you mean about finding the right teacher. I go to the Y, and we’re lucky to have several instructors I love. But there are a couple I don’t care for as much. And I far prefer being in a class vs viewing a video.

    But I’m glad you’re reconsidering yoga! It’s really changed my outlook and given me more respect for my body. It’s teaching me to listen to it. And just the breathing has been good for my soul. All my worries fall away on my yoga mat.

    I hope you find an instructor you like. 🙂

    • Thank you for reminding me how much I enjoyed it.

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