Beginning Yoga at age 41 - 8 Steps to Fulfillment

By Kristin Fast, Lifestyle Editor and In-House Wit-Cracker

So you want to practice yoga? You want Jennifer Aniston's arms and Ashley Judd's legs and inner peace and so you decide, like 15 million other Americans, to take up the practice of yoga.

Welcome.

I too, want all those things and at 41, the beginning twinges of sore knees and an achy back have finally compelled me to visit the options for a healthier lifestyle. I have always had a loose relationship with fitness and if I could have a mere nickel for every dollar spent on gym memberships, class sessions, and "miracle" equipment, I would be writing this post from a brand new MacBook Pro and not on my kid's 4 year old laptop. Yoga is one of those disciplines that not only brings about a better body, but a healthier mind and after all, stretching. Breathing. Posing. How hard can it be?*

*cue maniacal laughter

Hear me oh Succulent Readers, it. Is. Hard.

Step 1
Decide to practice yoga. Buy cute yoga pants. Get pedicure.

Step 2
Look into joining local yoga studio. See 42 sweaty bodies in tiny room and think again. It's January and everyone in your town has decided to get in shape. Consider ramifications of hairy man doing Downward Dog in front of you in tiny room. Leave quickly.

Step 3
Fire up a DVD. Rodney Yee has some great ones. However, looking up at a TV screen while trying to maintain balance is awkward and leads to much falling. Also, spend too much time wondering if Rodney um…. stuffs? (You'll just have to Urban-Dictionary that one for yourselves)

Step 4
Let time pass. Read blogs like Cupcakes and Yoga and Yogabeans. Also use this time to be honest with yourself. Yes, you want to lose some weight and tone up the thighs, but the bottom line is that you are afraid you may begin to limit yourself and the things you do because you are out of shape. Things become too hard or even, heaven forbid, you are too self-conscious to let go and participate fully… those are the things I had to face: was I in danger of passing on opportunities? If so, is that the role model I want to be for my children?

Step 5
Inadvertently, discover that one of your girlfriends AND SUCCULENT WIFE SENIOR EDITOR (aka Audrey) is a certified yoga instructor. Shout, Bonanza! Schedule private lessons. Let me digress for a moment and discuss the merits of private instruction. I opted for them because I know myself well enough to accept that being in the back row of a packed workout room is my idea of misery and would quickly turn into another escape route for me - I would essentially be starting something with my excuse to stop already in play. By opting for one on one lessons I would be more accountable.

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Audrey in plank position - she can hold this for hours - I can hold it for 20 seconds


Step 6
Begin! Quickly find out that stretching/breathing/posing is the hardest thing you have ever done in your sedentary life. Consider just buying bigger jeans and quitting. Realize that quitting is not an option because I am her only student and she will notice if I don't answer my door.

Step 7
Stick with it. Every week it gets both harder and easier. Easier in that the human body is a wondrous thing. It wants to be used and it wants to be strong and it will cooperate with you as you take the steps to nurture it. Harder in that, well, things get harder. Be so glad about the one-on-one lessons. Yoga is a very specific discipline and the smallest tweaks can make or break a pose. I will be in what I think is a perfect position and Audrey will suggest I rotate my hips a certain way and suddenly it is like a million times more intense but awesome at the same time.

Step 8
Grow a tiny bit. Feel a tiny bit stronger and a tiny bit more flexible. Realize that on yoga days I feel a tiny bit better.

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Namaste