I began practicing yoga eleven years ago. I had heard about transforming your body through yoga and I thought it would be a fun and challenging way to exercise.

At that point I was in my early 20’s and did not have any health concerns or problems.  I really didn’t need a “transformation”.  I just wanted a new way to exercise.

So I bought a yoga DVD….umm VHS (it was that long ago it seems) and got downward facing dog on my living room floor.

As a relatively fit twenty something who had spent many years dancing and practicing gymnastics, the yoga postures actually came easy to me.

That was then….

I continued to practice yoga here and there when I got pregnant with my first child.

I can’t say that I practiced often during that pregnancy, but I did have a prenatal yoga DVD that I used about once a week.

And then I had the baby….. And nothing was the same again!

This is where I needed a transformation!

As the baby weight dropped off I began to notice that my strength and flexibility dropped right along with it.

Folding forward to touch my toes even became a challenge.  (Well I suppose I hadn’t seen my toes in quite a few months during pregnancy anyway.)

Holding a plank position left me exhausted.

So I started to practice yoga again with my trusty VHS and boy did the strength begin to come back.

My core strength increased without me having to do any sit ups.  My flexibility and my balance increased as well.

Eleven years later I can honestly say that a consistent yoga practice has made me stronger and more flexible than I was at 20.

Sure I can still do quite a few of my old ballet moves.  I can even hit a back handspring on occasion.

But most importantly, just like any exercise that I engage in, the strong and flexible body that yoga has helped me maintain allows me to be useful in my everyday life.

I can pick up and hold my one and a half year old for LONG periods of time.

I can bend over and pick up toys without having pain in my back.

I can get down on the floor, sit on my knees or crossed legged with my children and play.

The added body benefit to yoga that I never expected is that it has taught me to be mindful about exercising, which has extended to me being mindful in my daily life.

Through yoga I have learned to honor my body and really “tune in” and “hear” what it is telling me it needs. (and in some cases doesn’t need)

This body awareness has helped me keep my body safe (as in not over exerting myself in a yoga posture) and healthy (as in not giving into the craving to finish off that dozen donuts).

This is what yoga and exercise is really about.

It is about the physicality of the work being a path or a tool to you living a well and full life.

Three babies and a decade since I’ve tried my first yoga class and I am more committed than ever.  I don’t know what I would do without my yoga mat these days, but I’m so very grateful for it.

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