Laurie Bernstein’s Life Changing Experience with Yoga
My name is Laurie and I do yoga. I am a student of yoga, learning something new every time I come to my mat. You may have seen me in the studio. I’m usually somewhere near the back row, hugging the wall. I am not the yogi you see “flying.” I don’t do headstands, handstands or forearm balances. I wobble, waver, and shake my way through my practice. But, every time I do come to my mat, I am becoming stronger, as I breathe and flow through the vinyasa.
I don’t do headstands, handstands or forearm balances. I wobble, waver, and shake my way through my practice.
My journey with yoga and MBFY began about eight months ago. I have never been athletic or been inspired by a particular physical activity or working out. I reluctantly chose various kinds of exercise over the years because I know it’s important in maintaining my health and weight. I always admired the people that have found a true passion for running, cycling, or spinning. I’ve been seeking that one activity, so elusive to me. Something that would change working out into a need and not a chore. I have tried running, almost always with a friend who would tolerate my run/walk endurance. I even participated in and finished a couple of 5Ks, with the promise of a cold beer at the end. I joined a gym, tried spinning class, purchased video workouts and have been yelled at many times by Jillian Michaels. None of these things ever created a passion, it was always just “working out.” The elliptical machine and treadmill in my basement taunt me and I often found myself resenting having to go to the “dungeon.” Yoga was something I tried once twenty plus years ago, as a way of fulfilling a P.E. credit requirement in college. The class of about 50 students was led by a yogi in a turban who tried to teach us “breath of fire” and to see out of our third eye, playing a relaxing gong at the end, my favorite part. I also fulfilled the P.E. requirement with juggling, fishing, and billiards. You may notice a trend here in my athletic history.
I always admired the people that have found a true passion for running, cycling, or spinning. I’ve been seeking that one activity, so elusive to me.
In early March of 2014, as I sat at my kitchen table, I did a quick on-line search for yoga studios in the area, deciding this would be the next thing to try. MBFY came up in my search as the closest location, my thought process being the location would drive my likelihood of attendance. I found the website and phone number and gave a call only to have no answer. Within a half hour of that initial call my home phone rang, the caller I.D. showing MBFY. The kind and bubbly voice of our very own, Marina, was on the other end and through our brief conversation I was immediately encouraged and less intimated to actually try a class. Marina told me she has senior citizens who take classes. Perfect, I thought, I can do this. So, I picked a date for a beginner class. Having no clue what to expect, I schlepped my yoga mat to my first class, feeling awkward and excited to be trying something new. I think I already knew from that very first class that I had found something different, maybe even my “passion.” There was an instant emotional connection to moving and breathing that I had never experienced before. My muscles ached in the days that followed but I was determined to return, to see this yoga thing out. In the days and weeks that followed, I started learning how to connect my breath to the movement, to flow.
“There was an instant emotional connection to moving and breathing that I had never experienced before. “
What has been completely unexpected to me is how much doing yoga would impact my life. I am a wife and a mother of two handsome and wonderful boys, ages 14 and 12. Our younger son has autism and is non-verbal. My daily life is built upon the challenges of his daily care. When I come to my mat, the baggage I usually bring with me is stress and worry over my children. My son has come a long way and has his whole life to continue learning, but the reality is that he will always be dependent on me or someone else for his care. This role of care giver is not temporary, it is life long.
“When I come to my mat the baggage I usually bring with me is stress and worry over my children.”
Yoga gives me an opportunity to try and drop my burdens and celebrate what is good about life, while strengthening my body and mind. As Marina often says, the only thing I need to do is breathe. When I find I’m in a difficult situation off my mat, I try to remind myself that it is temporary and I try breathing through it. I have made a more concerted effort to be present in my life, to give up my agenda and be more flexible. I have learned to appreciate that I can become stronger, more flexible, more willing to let go, after 45 years on this planet. I now have something in my life that I NEED. Fitting yoga into my life is not a have to, it’s a want to. Yoga is my way of keeping grounded, letting go, sweating, breathing, and growing. I may not “fly” yet, but I’m just getting started. I have found my passion. My name is Laurie and I do yoga.
“Yoga is my way of keeping grounded, letting go, sweating, breathing, and growing.”
What’s Laurie’s Pose About?
This pose opens the hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. The resulting shape is a deep opening and stretch in these areas. Watch Laurie enter into this asana from Mountain Pose (Tadasana). She will exit the pose and land back in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) as well.
Here are a few things to keep in mind, if you decide to try this pose, or if you have already started to experiment and play around with it.
- Start in warrior II with your right foot forward
- Extend your right arm forward and bring your right forearm to rest lightly on the top of your right thigh
- Extend your left arm up towards the sky
- Be sure your right forearm isn’t resting heavily, but lightly, on your right thigh.
- Suck the pit of your belly up and in
- Draw your shoulders onto your back (avoid rounding your shoulders forward towards your ears)
- Keep extending your left arm up towards the sky
- Hold for 3-5 breaths
- To exit the pose, you can move through a vinyasa or step straight back to downward facing dog
- Repeat on the left side
- Strengthens your thighs, hips, knees, and ankles
- Stretches your groin, back, spine, waist, ankles, lungs and shoulders
- Massages and stimulates your abdominal organs
- Increases endurance and stamina
- Avoid doing this pose if you have high or low blood pressure, knee injuries, headache, insomnia, or neck problems (keep your gaze in the same direction as your heart center or gaze down to the floor, allowing your neck to be even on both sides).
- Enlist the help of an experienced instructor with Side Angle Pose if this is your first time trying it.
Have you tried this pose before? What has been your experience? Let me know below.