It’s not what it looks like!

I hit 39 a few weeks ago (happy birthday Charlotte!). While I haven’t suddenly ballooned out, I do have to pay closer attention to the waistline as I get older. And I want to work on my strength and flexibility now so I’m not a hunched over old woman shuffling down the street some day. So, I go through spurts. Sometimes I even go 3 months in a row where I work out diligently. Then I get busy, travel, get sick, something comes up and I skip the workout for a week or two or more. Sometimes I even go 3 months in a row where I don’t work out at all.

I don’t have many excuses. We have a Bowflex and elliptical machine in the house, plus some good DVD series. I’ve done Body for Life, Five Factor Fitness (thanks to Kathy who heard about it from Mary Margaret), and Spark People workouts, plus Hip Hop Abs and others from BeachBody. All of them are good and if I were consistent and also watched what I eat they would probably make the right impact.

But, while my expanding waistline bothers me (that’s why they make elastic), my complete lack of flexibility and poor lung capacity are the long-term issues I want to work on. So, I keep coming back to Yoga. Well, ok, not yoga. The July/Aug, 2004 issue of Areopagus Journal says if it’s stretching exercises and mild deep breathing without the spiritual component then it isn’t yoga. I would agree with that and I do not subscribe to the deep meditation and “spiritual” part of yoga. But I do think the set of postures and exercises are great for addressing flexibility and increasing respiratory capacity. So, I do the Power Yoga exercises at home with Beryl Bender Birch, the first person I took classes with in New York City. I have the book and her DVD to make sure I do it right. Then once in awhile I go into Charlotte and take a class at Yoga One where my sister-in-law teaches.

I find the yoga exercises very hard. I am not flexible. Beryl is kind in her video and says it’s probably due to sports, running, etc. But I’ve never done sports. I’ve just always been tight. (Now my nephew Connor – he’s FLEXIBLE!) I can do the exercises for weeks and not see much improvement at all. Plus it’s very hard – we start with 5 Sun Salutation A and 5 Sun Salutation B and that’s the equivalent of 20 pushups plus. And I get very sweaty doing it and I don’t like being sweaty. All of that makes it very tempting to quit. I have quit many times in the 10+ years since I found Beryl Bender Birch. She would not be happy with me. If you aren’t doing it regularly, then you can’t say you are doing yoga. It must be consistent to be safe. (Yet another reason to just say I do exercises that look like yoga postures.)

My biggest complaint, and I grumble a lot when I’m doing the exercises, is that my limbs aren’t long enough. I can’t touch my toes because my arms aren’t long enough (or my fingers aren’t long enough, or my legs are too long?). I can’t put my hand on the ground on the far side of my foot because I run into my knee before my hand is flat on the ground.

Of course, I know those positions are hard for the same reason I can’t get my nose to my knee. My hips and shoulders are very tight and I can’t bend the way the posture requires. But when I’m trying to get into the position it certainly looks like I could do it if my arm were just a tad longer.

I was thinking about all of this today while sweating my way through my exercises. The first analogy that came to mind was how I have some sins that I don’t see as sin. It’s just that all three nephews at once make a lot of noise and keep asking questions and sometimes I just need to tell them all to be quiet. My tone may have been a little harsh, but they know I still love them. That’s different than some of the purposefully hurtful things I say or other obvious sins I see in my life.

But I have to admit that my tone of voice (and not just with the nephews when they are rowdy) can be very sinful. This was brought home to me Monday. Just as I was setting up to do my yoga exercises Anthony called. One of the topics that came up is very stressful for both of us right now and I spent a few minutes “telling” him how unfair I thought part of this was. Now, he is just as unhappy as I am and he doesn’t have any more answers that I do, but I certainly dumped on him. After we hung up and I started my workout I realized I had done it again, I had let my tone of voice get nasty. And my fear is that my tone of voice reflects my heart. I don’t want to have a nasty heart.

So, I can just give up and say my arms need to be longer before I can ever do this, or I can keep working at it. That’s the second analogy I found in this. I have a few sins that I have prayed about for quite awhile, but I have not seen a lot of progress. After praying and working on something for awhile, I quit and tell myself to stop worrying about it. Then my conscience will be pricked again and I’ll realize I really need to deal with the sin. It’s hard work, I have to confess and repent some sins many times a day (like my tone of voice!) and I have to keep remembering how unworthy I am and incapable of fixing this all by myself. Wouldn’t it just be easier to give up?

But I do NOT want to end up a hunched over old woman shuffling down the street.

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