By Shana Moore
I can’t be the only one who has greatly adjusted my view of what constitutes a workout.
A former version of me scoffed at any exercise that didn’t end with someone asking me if I was okay. Beet-red face, drenched in sweat, an exhausted yeah would fall out of my mouth with a chuckle. In my view, if it wasn’t balls-to-the-wall, it didn’t even count.
Then, at age 35, along came a back surgery and a year of mourning about my new physical limitations. I took up walking and begrudgingly made peace with what was. I walked the neighborhood daily with a good friend and ultimately found joy in chatting with neighbors along our path.
Fifteen years later, I suffered another back injury and re-visited the pain management specialist, who, with great compassion, told me that this would be a lifelong theme of mine unless I spent 20 minutes per day strengthening my core. 20 minutes per day?!
Sleepless Nights Are No Joke
I let this advice marinate for a long while and along came the pandemic. In the earliest days of lockdown, when fear was at its highest, my mom, who was already battling Alzheimer’s, would now require an emergency back surgery.
My brother and I dropped her off at the hospital curb to staff wearing haz-mat suits, tears running down my face. The anxiety I felt during her weeklong hospital stay still makes my stomach (alas, not my abs) clench when I think about it.
When she was released from the hospital, I spent six weeks sleeping at my parents’ house caring for her so that she could avoid the Covid risks in a rehabilitation center. The nights were endless because I was too anxious to sleep, afraid I would miss her wakeups and calls for help.
It was at this moment that my two needs converged into one aha moment. I needed a yoga body to support my back and I needed a yoga mindset to manage my mind.
In the darkest hours of night as I lay awake, I found myself repeating what has become my mantra: “I am strong. I am calm. I am love.” Mind you, this usually feels more aspirational than true, but as I repeat these words over and over, my anxious nighttime worries manage to take a backseat and I fall back to sleep.
As for what yoga is doing to my body, I mean it literally when I say that I am feeling myself. Not only is my back supported, but a muscle tone I haven’t felt in years has returned to my abs, my quads, my arms. I often graze these muscles with my fingers in disbelief that they are mine. I feel strong, disciplined, and much more vibrant.
Does all this yoga work miracles? By miracles I mean, am I also now strutting down Main St. in Daisy Duke shorts? No, it does not. In fact, my favorite produce worker and I were chatting the other day and the topic of exercise came up and he said, “Oh, you exercise?” Um, yeah buddy, but I thought that, much like the Declaration of Independence, this truth was self-evident. Disappointing to say the least.
Vanity aside, the adoption of a three-day per week yoga practice has brought me more strength and calm than I have experienced in years, at precisely the phase of life I need it most.
If you’re looking for a no-cost home workout, here are my top three favorites by Yoga with Adriene on YouTube: Respect and Replenish, Strengthen and Lengthen, and Awaken the Artist Within. Each of these is about 40 minutes. She has shorter videos if you prefer to start small and build.
Wishing you all the strength and peace you need for your life, too.
Shana McLean Moore
TEDx Speaker, Life Coach at Anchor Psychology (408) 365-4089