Claire On Yoga
My journey with yoga began in January of 2008. Before then, I had always wanted to try yoga, but never seemed to “get around to it.” So on December 31, 2007, I made a New Year’s resolution to practice yoga everyday for the month of January. If at the end of January I wanted to stop practicing, I’d never have to try yoga again.
Two weeks into January and practicing nearly everyday, I wasn’t exactly in love with yoga. I was used to more vigorous exercises such as jogging, aerobics, cycling and elliptical workouts. It was difficult for me to adjust to the slow pace of the yoga workout. But additionally, yoga was extremely physically challenging. Whenever I practiced yoga, I felt like a bug that had been turned on her back. I was completely uncoordinated, ungraceful, inflexible, and unbalanced.
This was all very frustrating for me. Before I began yoga, I had been working out almost daily since I was 15 years old. I fancied myself to be strong, flexible, balanced…but yoga showed me I was quite wrong.
Even though it was difficult, both physically and mentally, I stuck with my daily yoga practice until the end of January. It was then time to decide: do I continue or stop here?
Needless to say, I decided to continue. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Rather than run from the thing that was challenging, uncomfortable, and unfamiliar – I decided to keep going. I wanted to see what I was capable of.
Four years later, yoga has not only improved my physical well-being, but it’s done amazing things for my mental health as well. Here are just a few examples of what a regular yoga practice has done for me:
- When I first began practicing yoga, my Downward Dog looked more like Plank Pose. In Forward Bend, I could only reach the tops of my knees. Today, my body has allowed itself to stretch deeper than I ever thought possible.
- When I was a child, I was involved in a school bus accident that left permanent bone damage to my neck. For years I lived with near constant neck pain without much hope for relief. However, since I began practicing yoga, my neck pain has dramatically decreased.
- Since I was very young, I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression. Yoga has helped these problems considerably. No other technique, psychology, or practice has done so much for these personal issues.
Claire on Food, Diet and Meditation
As I’ve explained in various places on this blog, I have a condition which does not allow me to eat any foods containing gluten. (Please see Celiac Disease for more information on this under-diagnosed but very serious illness).
My story to health and diagnosis is a long and complicated one. I’ll give you the short version. (But if you ever have questions or experiences about Gluten-Intolerance please feel free to contact me!)
Beginning when I was 16 years old, I began to feel sick. I had a variety of symptoms ranging from constant and intense stomach pains, weight loss (and later weight gain), extreme fatigue, depression, gastrointestinal problems, brittle and breaking bones, and various unexplained nutritional deficiencies.
For nearly seven years I went from doctor to doctor and specialist to specialist. I was misdiagnosed and treated for all sorts strange illnesses that I never had. But nothing worked and no one could figure out what was wrong with me. Needless to say, this part of my life was very difficult. I felt like hell every single day and there seemed to be no end in sight.
At some point during this time I realized that no doctor was going to help me. I had to figure this out for myself. This is when I began practicing meditation. One thing that always upset me about any doctor visit was the fact that they didn’t listen to me. I would sit on the exam chair and tell the doctor all about my health problems and they would blink their eyes a few times before throwing out a diagnosis (always a wrong one) and sending me on my way. I could just tell they weren’t listening to a word I said.
So I realized that I had to listen to myself and my body. I did this through meditation. I came to realize that the root of my health problems stemmed from the food I was eating. However I couldn’t figure out what the relationship was between food and my ill health. For about three years I read every diet and nutrition book at the library. I tried diet after diet after diet. I added some foods, I eliminated some foods. And finally, after three years of learning and experimenting with food and diet, I hit the jackpot.
It was gluten.
As soon as I eliminated gluten from my diet I felt better within one week. After one month I felt like I had a new lease on life. After one year I finally felt completely normal.
I’ve been gluten-free for almost five years and I’ve never felt better. Although the years of suffering were not fun to say the least, I’m grateful for my experience. It has taught me to appreciate my body and my health. I continue to practice yoga and enjoy it’s amazing benefits each day.