Checking in and stretching out

I didn’t take my Christmas tree down until this past weekend. Well, yesterday to be exact. It wasn’t because I was too lazy, it’s just that I loved having it up.

Every morning, before the sun comes up, it’s easier to get up and out of bed and roll out my yoga mat when I can do it next to twinkling lights that give the room a warm glow.

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The set-up for following an online yoga video

In the past, my favorite part of the Christmas season was looking at the lights on houses as I ran in the dark after work. Doing yoga by the light of the Christmas tree this year took that warm fuzzy feeling and applied it to an activity that I can do while I’m resting my knee.

Not only is yoga something that I can do, it also seems to be really good for me. When I practice it regularly, I see improvements in my posture and feel more mobile and flexible. Even better than that, though, it that it seems to have helped build up foundational strength. Something as simple as standing up straight and tall has translated into my everyday movements, so instead of sinking weight into a hip and leaning to one side, I’m distributing weight evenly and utilizing foundational muscles.

Balancing poses have improved my ankle strength like crazy. My feet and ankles were kind of a mess before, and I think I made up for it by absorbing impact in my knees. It’s no wonder I’m still broken after running with such bad form for so long, but it’s so exciting to be making progress that will change how I move in the future.

After a couple of months of yoga, you’d think that I’d be super flexible, but my calves and hamstrings are still working their way towards flexibility. The best thing about my first yoga class in a studio (other than an awesome discussion of myth…) was that the instructor made it really clear that you don’t have to twist yourself into a pretzel or reach all the way to the floor or be in the same shape as the person next to you. Everyone is different, and it will take me a lot longer than a lot of other people to get to the point where I can get my heels to the ground in downward-facing dog.

Now would be the time to include a picture of Pippin doing downward-facing dog, but, alas, he never does it when I have a camera in hand. Instead, here he is doing what I call “dancing puppy”. Not a yoga pose, but very cute.

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Yoga is a great way to bring awareness to how I’m moving and using my muscles. I think that it’s going to remain a part of my daily schedule long after my knee recovers.

If you’re curious about the studio classes I mentioned, check out kessiah.com.

If you’re wondering what online videos I follow, check out yogawithadriene.com.

 

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