If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be making time every morning to do yoga, I’d have believed you because, actually, I’m sort of gullible. But still. It would have seemed far-fetched. I’ve never thought of yoga as a workout. Workouts are supposed to raise my heart rate, build muscles, make me sweat. There should be a great deal of movement and, where applicable, some ridiculous manly groans to show how hard I’m working.

Yoga’s slow, flowing moves have always seemed kind of wussy to me. Pretty, but not really, you know, a workout.

I started doing yoga because of an injury. I kept doing it because I liked being more flexible, more balanced. But the most amazing thing for me is that when I do yoga, I’m quiet. My brain gets quiet, and that’s a big deal. I’ve blogged about my unquiet brain before, the way it jumps from one thing to the next at lightning speed, buzzing all the time. Focus and flow are elusive for me; my efforts at meditation have been less than Zen.

But yoga is my meditation. Rather than emptying my mind, or letting go of thought, I focus my mental and physical energy on the flow from one pose to the next, on my breathing, on holding each position for as long as I can. I try to be graceful (some days are better than others), and I introduce new moves every week or so, so that I stay challenged.

I’m still a novice. I’m only just getting past the basic beginning positions, but I love yoga. I love the mind-body connection, the quietness of it (which doesn’t prevent it from being as strenuous as you want it to be). It doesn’t work miracles. I’m still pretty easily distracted, my mind is still jumpy and scattered, but yoga does start me off in a calmer place.

My favorite part comes at the end of the workout when I set my intention. When I took my first yoga class, a year ago, the instructor would recite possible intentions. She would say, in her misty sing-song yoga voice, “Set your intention now… to find peace in your day, to love your neighbor, to be tolerant and forgiving…” Of course those are excellent intentions. Mine don’t tend to be so pretty. Here are some of the intentions I’ve set for myself:

  • Sway, shimmy, shake… Dance
  • Get the hell out of my imagination’s way
  • Disturb the force
  • Rock and roll
  • Be seen
  • See

So how do you get quiet? Or do you? Is it necessary for you? Do you meditate? (I originally typed medicate. Feel free to share that too!

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