FITNESS Relax, it's just yoga

You don't have to be young, thin or in perfect health to perform yoga.
I fell into the practice by accident. I was writing a story about a spa, and yoga was the daily pre-breakfast ritual. Crawling out of bed at dawn to exercise was not my idea of a pampered vacation. Reluctantly, I pulled a mat to a corner in the back of the room so I wouldn't be the laughingstock. In spite of myself, I enjoyed this peaceful method of waking my mind and body. By the third day, I was hooked. I never felt better. Discovering that I was 8 pounds lighter at the end of the week was an unexpected bonus.
I was also thrilled by some of the other benefits. Simple things such as tying my shoes or putting on hosiery no longer left me breathless. I can walk upstairs and still talk when I get to the top.
No one is too young, old, large, small, thin or infirm to do yoga -- so forget about your weight. It doesn't have to be a religious exercise either.
Expect to feel awkward at first. Remember to honor your body by doing only as much as feels comfortable; forget the "no pain, no gain" theory. And thank goodness no special clothing or equipment is necessary. Design your practice to fit your schedule and lifestyle. I love that it's called "practice." No matter your level, these movements can motivate, shape, relax and inspire.
Making the effort
Some poses I'll never be able to achieve; I have too much stomach in the way. But I get tremendous satisfaction from making the effort. There's no such thing as a perfect pose, so just keep trying.
Just because you don't have an hour to spare is no reason to postpone the activity. You can achieve wonderful results in 10-minute sessions. I do a very simple practice three times a week. But when no class is available, I select a series of poses that addresses my immediate needs.
Finally, I've found the "feel good" road to well-being. Reach, breathe in, close your eyes, exhale and relax. Yoga may be the answer to help you find peace with yourself and your place in the world. It's a gentle yet effective method of movement that can adapt to your circumstance.
Check out this stress reliever for all ages, sizes and stages of development. You can do this in the privacy of your bedroom, with a large group in a class or during a one-on-one session with a personal instructor. Find the one that works for you. You deserve it.
XJane Trechsel's little book "A Morning Cup of Yoga" (Crane Hill Publishers, $12.95) is a 14-minute doable yoga routine. The illustrations are easy to follow, and a CD is included.

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