• Joni Ganguzza

Namaste: The Day Yoga Meant So Much More Than Flexibility

For the last 20 years, every 1 to 2 years I would try to "get into yoga". I would see these amazing flexible and contorted people on Facebook or Instagram and I would think, wow, yoga looks like such a powerful thing. I should do that! I would go for a total of maybe 5-10 times at my local YMCA but I would become discouraged by my lack of flexibility, that I didn't look anything like the girl in the front row who seemed to have legs made of rubber or I would get discouraged by the lack of calories burnt and ultimately give it up, but this year was different.

Hot Yoga was one of those things I always wanted to try, but wasn't courageous enough to take the plunge. Not to mention most of the hot yoga studios would have a drop in fee of $20/class and I had a hard time wrapping my mind around spending $20 to stretch in a room that felt like August in Houston. However, Afterglow Yoga, the yoga studio near by house started a deal where you could try out their studio for 30 days for only $30. Ok, $30, I could do. If I hated it, my pores would still get a good cleansing at half the price of a facial.

At the beginning of Summer 2019, I tried it for the first time. I'm not going to lie, the first 15-20 minutes I was in that room I kept thinking "what the hell was I thinking". I looked around the room, I saw large muscular men that looked like a faucet of sweat had been opened up as they left puddles on their mat. I saw women, who clearly had done this for a while turning themselves into human pretzels as I tried to follow just the basic moves. I also saw a lot of people that weren't that flexible. People, in their late 30s like me, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. People with flat stomachs. People with a little extra cushion. But you know what? All those people, didn't care that I couldn't do crow pose or if I looked great in yoga pants. They were all there to find their own personal inner strength. There was complete focus on themselves in the mirror, but drawing on the inner energy (or in my opinion the Divine Holy Spirit) dwelling in each person in the class.

That was the changing moment for me. It was a personal journey for my mind, body, and soul, yet able to draw from the energy of all the people in the room on their own journeys. Slowly, I would push myself to become a more flexible, confident and strong person.

But greater than this, after becoming quite ill a couple months ago, yoga has become my place of healing. My cerebellum, the part of my brain that controls my balance and coordination, was greatly affected when I became ill so yoga has allowed me to continue to push myself to balance and to heal. I could try to balance all day in physical therapy, but trying to do tree pose in yoga while focusing on my breathing and the spirit dwelling within me, let me not only heal my body, but also my mind and spirit.

As my journey of healing and in becoming the best mom, wife, person I can be continues, I am grateful for the gift yoga has become as a guide along the way.


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