Please meet Diana Toth. She is Mind Body Flow Yoga’s featured student for this month’s newsletter. Diana has a beautiful yoga practice and was generous in sharing it with us, as she demonstrates Camel Pose (Ustrasana).
Mind Body Flow Yoga’s Very Own Diana Toth
Maybe some of you can relate with this, but when I got the email from Marina asking me to be student of the month, I thought, “Yikes! I need to share something profound and relevant about myself with a bunch of people I don’t know!” I am a person who typically likes to fly under the radar and I’m now being asked to be front and center. So here goes…
Before marriage, I was all about taking care of only myself and having fun. I was going to school, active in several different sports and traveling with my friends. I then got married and had two beautiful boys within the next five years. At that point, life about “only me” was put on the back burner and stayed that way pretty much for the next twenty years. I kept active by keeping my boys active, driving them around and supporting them in their many activities – football, baseball, Tae Kwon-Do, fencing and other after-school stuff. Sound familiar to some of you?
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t totally give up on myself. I did try to carve out some “me” time. I joined a couple gyms through the years and even took fencing lessons with my youngest son. Unfortunately, none of this felt right and so did not stick with me long term. But, about 6 years ago, I stumbled upon a gym and a personal trainer who whipped my butt into shape and made me start to feel better about myself. This trainer happens to also be a yoga instructor and she began to incorporate yoga into our weekly work out sessions. That’s when I realized, I dig this yoga stuff and I want more! There was no future for yoga at this gym (the owner wasn’t interested in promoting it) and I’d plateaued with cardio and weight training, so my search was on for a yoga studio. That search led me to Mind Body Flow Yoga and oh my, how grateful am I to have found you!
Not so long ago, I turned 50 and boy, did it hit me like a rock; more emotionally it seems than physically. My boys have grown and have moved on with their lives and thus a big chunk of me has gone with them. I’ve been traveling closer to a fork in my road and have become uncertain as to which path to follow or how to fill this missing chunk of me. At times the days have been overwhelming thinking about this, but when I get to class, I can calm this noise of uncertainty from my head and focus on only myself and be present. The anxiety of not knowing what comes next will always be there, but the words of inspiration and encouragement from all our instructors makes you recognize we are powerful and that our doubts and fears are not bigger than us. We can face anything!
My birthday was February 1st and many of the words from the book that’s often read from in class, “Journey to the Heart,” resonated with me that day, but most of all: … ”Take a flashlight to help you see in the dark. But most of all take yourself and go.” I can face anything! I have to admit though, Marina or Carrie or Becca, in a yoga bubble on my shoulder for those days I can’t make it to class, would be super helpful.
I also come to class for the physical aspect of yoga. I love sweating, pushing myself and making myself stronger. Despite the physical limitations we all face (and we all do), each instructor encourages us to listen to our bodies, step outside our comfort zone every now and again and try something new. It’s ok to fall because if we don’t, how will we learn? It’s this “no judgement” mantra that contributes to me coming back to class. That and the new yoga mat I got for my birthday (thank you my very best friend) because it has greatly changed my practice for the better!
I thank this wonderful yoga community for your love and support and for letting me find something that will stick with me for many years to come.
Leave a comment below. What stood out to you in the testimonial? What significant experience have you had in your yoga journey?
What is this Pose About?
This is a backward bending pose. The resulting shape is a deep opening through the chest, hips, and hip flexors. Watch Diana enter into this asana from Mountain Pose (Tadasana). She will exit the pose and land back in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) as well.
Tips for Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
- Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width distance apart. Press your shins and the tops of your feet firmly into floor.
- Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, bases of the palms on the tops of the buttocks, fingers pointing down. Inhale and lift your heart by pressing the shoulder blades against your back ribs.
- Lean back against the firmness of the tail bone and shoulder blades. Keep your head up, chin near the sternum, and your hands on the pelvis. There is an option here to drop straight back into this pose, touching the hands to the feet simultaneously while keeping the thighs perpendicular to the floor. Most beginners will stay in the first part of the pose with the hands at the back of the pelvis. If you’re not able to touch your feet without compressing your lower back, you can try turning your toes under and elevate your heels.
- Turn your arms outwardly so the elbow creases face forward, without squeezing the shoulder blades together. You can keep your neck in a relatively neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back. But, be careful not to strain your neck and harden your throat.
- Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. To exit, bring your hands onto the front of your pelvis, at the hip points. Inhale and lift the head and torso up by pushing the hip points down, toward the floor. If your head is back, lead with your heart to come up, not by jutting the chin toward the ceiling and leading with your brain. Rest in Child’s Pose for a few breaths.
- Opens up the hips.
- Stretches the hip flexors.
- Stretches and strengthens the shoulders and back.
- Expands the abdominal region, improving digestion and elimination.
- Improves posture.
- Opens the chest, improving respiration.
- Relieves lower back pain.
- Do not practice Camel Pose if you have high or low blood pressure, migraine headache, insomnia, serious low back or neck injury. Enlist the help of an experienced instructor with Camel Pose if this is your first time trying it.
Have you tried this pose before? What has been your experience?