Living with Vitality column: Revitalize this spring with yoga
VAIL CO, Colorado
Spring is in the air and in the Rockies that means shedding some layers; putting away puffy coats and insulated ski pants. But what does spring mean when it comes to our bodies and our well-being after a long, abundant winter? And how do we re-charge and re-vitalize after the endless powder days the snow gods so kindly provided this season?
Depending upon who you are, there could be many answers to these questions, but for me the answer is to recommit to my yoga practice. I know what you might be thinking: “You’re a yoga teacher, and yoga is your number-one. Why would you need to recommit?”
Well, I am human too, and there are times when fresh tracks and face shots take priority over my yoga mat. It’s usually around this time every year that I feel the need to reset, recharge and recommit to myself, and I am sure I am not alone.
For me, my yoga practice is the perfect place to come to revitalize. I have found that after long winters I have neglected certain parts of my body. Some places feel weak and other places are tight and wound up. So when I come to my mat, I explore and work with all of those things. I become curious about how I can find more strength in the places I feel weak and how I can surrender more deeply to the tight and sore places that need opening. I find that practicing this way has a lot of freedom and balance in it, and when I feel this experience in my physical body, I feel more vital and alive on all levels. To me, this is what yoga is all about: finding the right balance and really listening to what your body, mind and spirit are asking for.
Some of you may be thinking things like “I have never done yoga, I am not flexible enough,” or, ” I am not good at yoga!” But, you don’t have to turn yourself into a pretzel to do yoga, and if you’re not flexible, yoga helps you become flexible. So, where do you start if you are new to yoga and want to see if it will work for you? My advice would be to go try out as many different styles as you can. Depending upon the day and your mood, one style might feel better than the next. One day you might feel like a power class to sweat out yesterday’s apres session; the next, a more mellow, restorative class could be in order to calm your nerves after a long work week.
Whatever style you choose to try, don’t just try once and give up. The first day might be awkward and you’ll feel muscles you didn’t even know existed. After your fourth or fifth class, you will feel more calm and at ease. You will know where your foot is on your mat and you can actually feel your breath becoming deeper.
For those of you who already practice yoga and might have taken a little sabbatical, I invite you to revisit your mat, to check back in with your practice and yourself.
Whoever you are, I challenge you to follow my lead and reset, recharge, and recommit to yourself this spring. Gandhi said that one’s vitality and health can be transformed only when a person’s entire attitude toward life is changed. Commit to finding your own vitality with a renewed sense of energy and purpose, so that you may live your life to the fullest in every moment.
Rachel Nelson, a yoga instructor since 2005, is the yoga studio coordinator at the Vail Athletic Club. The Vitality Center at Vail Mountain Lodge offers expert counsel in nutrition, preventative medicine, medical acupuncture, chiropractic, facial and body treatments, fitness and energy balancing. For more information, visit http://www.vailvitalitycenter.com or call 970-476-7721.