Weights to Yoga and Back Again
If you read Kelley’s recent blog post, Mastering New Skills for Optimal Health, then you know that adding weights to your practice can be very beneficial. In fact, I’m a walking testament to that fact. Here’s my story.
Weight Training – Where it All Began
As an 88-pound 19-year old college sophomore, I was dared by my guy friends, who thought it would be hilarious, to join the university weightlifting club. 500 guys and a handful of gals. Unbeknownst to me, weight training was the “sport” I had been waiting for all of my life. It turned out I was freakishly strong for my size, and so I continued the love affair with weight training for the next 16 years.
Frequently called “No Neck,” by my loving mother because of my overdeveloped trapezius muscles, when I became pregnant, I found weight training to be ill-suited for my condition. So I stopped and instead gained 35 pounds to give birth to a 6-pound baby. Six months after her birth, I headed back into the gym and resumed my routine. I was surprised to find that I couldn’t stand it! I was no longer a weightlifter. Something had shifted and I needed to make a change.
Finding the Yogi
I literally stumbled into a yoga class in 1997, taught by none other than, Kelley Gardner. One class, and I was completely hooked. It took some time, but within 6 months, I was doing yoga multiple times a week, forsaking the weights for something that soothed my body and soul in a much more meaningful way.
And now . . .?
Fast forward 18+ years later and I’m a yogi through and through. I crave my practice as much as a glass of my favorite wine, or a morsel of dark chocolate. But after all this time, I’ve developed some bad habits (not counting the wine and chocolate). These bad habits started manifesting as shoulder pain. When I began to feel pain in some of my favorite poses, I sought medical help from a spine and neurological specialist. After some standard diagnostics, it was determined that physical therapy was in order. It turns out that my strong shoulders have been carrying the weight – literally – of many of the beloved arm balances and inversions I routinely practice. As a result, part of my back musculature had gone unused for years.
So with the help of a physical therapist, I’m back to lifting weights, reawakening those muscles. And for the first time in my life, I’m doing both yoga and weight training, and I see how each complements the other, making me stronger, more supple and increasingly pain free.
Steeped in my yoga practice, weightlifting is no longer the boring activity I left behind so many years ago. Mindful breathing, greater attention to alignment, and a compassion for my own imperfections, makes the weight training therapeutic for my body and my spirit. And if you arrive to a Saturday or Sunday morning class a bit early, you will most likely find me using our weights to warm my shoulder up before practice. If you adding weights to your routine sounds good to you, you don’t need a gym membership or a physical therapist. Just check out Kelley’s Yoga + Walk + Weights Thursday mornings at 8:15.