How I Became Smarter than the Average Bear

27 January 2016

Yoga instructor, Andy Rosenberg, strikes a (non-yoga) pose with Craig after class.

Before November 2015, the only "Yogi" I knew was a bear with a little friend named "Boo-Boo." That changed after being repeatedly asked and then challenged to take a yoga class offered at the Y. “Come on,” I thought. I lift five times a week and get in a fair amount of cardio as well. What does yoga have to offer me? Isn't this just a class for skinny women and former gymnasts anyway? What a surprise I had coming, because I didn't have a clue!

I am well into my 40s and despite my best efforts, I’d noticed stiffness in my lower back and spine, a lack of flexibility, and some loss of balance from younger days—all part of normal aging, right? (Getting old stinks!) But what could I do? Violette, an instructor at the Blocker Norfolk Family YMCA suggested that I give yoga a try. She took me to the Mind & Body studio and showed me some of the basic poses, breathing techniques and movements. It was challenging, fun and truly relaxing. Through complete body awareness and focus on my breathing, all of the other distractions of the day simply melted away.

That led me to seek more classes. An introduction to yoga class with Cathy at the Great Bridge/Hickory Y presented a style with flow. Carrie at the Blocker Y stresses strength and flexibility. And Andy's classes at the Greenbrier Family Y have amazing connectivity with inward focus and energy. Each "Yogi" I encounter helps me develop my own unique practice. And that is the great thing about yoga—there is no competition or judgement. It is about pushing your own limits, building on your strengths and conquering your weaknesses.

As Andy says, "We are here to grow, not show. We are here not to prove, but to improve."

Don't be intimidated. Classes are attended by members of all ages and abilities. Yoga offers something for everyone and it is a practice you can stay with for the rest of your life!

Since I started regularly taking classes just a few months ago, my balance and flexibility are the best they've been in 20 years. I am less stressed. I am more in tune with my body. I have met some great new friends in the classes. And I have been able to take classes with my wife and kids!

I am so glad I gave yoga at the Y a shot. Here's hoping you try it too. Namaste!