I love exercising; I find it invigorating, relaxing and empowering. But I also I live with a chronic illness that makes exercising difficult, impacting too much on my body and leaving me broken instead of renewed. Over the years, I’ve needed to develop a routine that allows me to satisfy my need for sweaty, adrenalin saturating fitness without overly impacting my body. And the biggest aid for this, restorative yoga!
I began practising yoga for several years. My journey began after my latest spinal surgery left me reliant on walking aids that put undue pressure on my back and joints, twisting my spine and leaving me crooked, hunched and unable to support my own body. Restorative Yoga was suggested by my physio as a way of learning to control my body again but it soon became so much more than that.
My yoga routine is simple. I use it to repair and restore my body. Therefore, I stick to restorative yoga poses that stretch and correct my body whilst using yoga blocks and simple items found about the house (a kitchen chair or a simple wall) to support my body and prevent placing too much pressure on my limbs and muscles. I am reluctant to push myself, but over time I have become braver, steadier, more supple, straighter and more willing to stretch myself that little further. To the point that I’m soon to begin aerial yoga!
So, as you can see, I love yoga, and these are the reasons why …
Yoga calms my mind
Like with most things in my life, I have a routine around my yoga practice. Whether it be simple stretches in the morning or a longer session in the evening, I like to take myself away to a quiet space, shut myself off from the world and focus on my stretches.
There is something about the rhythmic properties of restorative yoga poses that aids in switching off from the chaos of life and focus purely on me. It is centring, calming and relaxing.
I often find myself slipping into a form of trance where time seems to just flow past me and take away all the stresses and tensions of the day.
Yoga teaches me to respect my body
Through practising yoga, I have gained a greater level of control over my body. Focusing on small stretches and minute movements has given me a greater understanding of my body; I now know my limits but I also know my strength and my flexibility.
Knowing my body has helped me gain control outside of yoga. Since practising restorative yoga techniques, I have started to trust my legs more, to trust my body to react the way it should. I have put down my crutches and learnt to not only walk unaided but to run!
Yoga has given me back a feeling of respect for my body by reminding me of its capabilities and its strength.
Yoga corrects my posture
Years of hunching against my daily headaches, walking with crutches, and inactivity following surgery has left me with poor posture. I collapse in on myself, shrink from my height, and have a tendency to look at the floor.
Through practising restorative yoga my muscles have strengthed; my shoulders have been drawn backwards, the muscles around my spine now support my hips, pulling them forward making me stand straighter, taller, stronger. My head is held higher and I stand empowered in all that I do.
Yoga eases my pain
The gentle stretching, rhythmic flows and trancelike practices of yoga ease my daily aches and pains. The meditative qualities of restorative yoga help me to centre my mind which, in turn, acts a pain relief – a barrier to the daily toil. Tension headaches, complaining joints, back and neck pain are all minimised through an evening of yoga.
Yoga gives me confidence
Restorative yoga is inclusive. You don’t need to be slim or fit or flexible to practice yoga. You simply need to be willing.
As I have travelled through the beginning of my yoga journey I have grown in confidence. Last week I took my yoga session outdoors, in a delightfully sunny and very busy park. A year ago, I would never have practised yoga in front of people but now, I am so happy in my body and confident in its capabilities, that practising yoga in the open, in front of people, was invigorating.
And this confidence is seeping into every walk of my new life here in Devon.
Do you practice yoga?
I feel like I’m very much at the start of my yoga journey and that there is so much more to come. I hope you will stay with me on this journey and come back for more plus size fitness and exercise talk.
This article has been sponsored by Amethyst Studio. Based in Newbury, the studio is based around the healing powers of yoga and their namesake, the amethyst jewel; 'a meditative and calming stone which works in the emotional, spiritual and physical planes to promote calm, balance and peace. It is also used to eliminate impatience'. All thoughts and experiences discussed in this post remain true to my own thoughts.