By Andrea K. Hammer
During a “working” summer vacation at the beach many years ago, yoga first came into my life by accident.
Facing a tight deadline that always coincided with my yearly birthday celebration, I had literally transported my office to our motel room that faced the ocean. Waking up near the water for a week slightly diminished the high-stress level of my massive project. But the early start that was essential each day—and my stiff body from restless sleep and, dare I say, aging—prompted me to search for an early-morning exercise show on television.
Surfing channels, I stumbled on a yoga session, which became an addictive ritual when it aired at 6:30 a.m. in our area back then.
Discovery of Encouraging Suggestions
For years, I had wanted to learn more about yoga but just never found the time. Through its “just-be-satisfied-wherever-you-are” approach, yoga invited me into a previously mystical world at my own pace. Through yoga, I slowly discovered a new level of self-acceptance, which was never possible in competitive gyms. I started to replay some of the encouraging suggestions—such as “open your heart” and “save enough energy to get back up”—in my head throughout the day. Soon, I talked about yoga as an enthusiastic “convert,” who was mentally cloudy and physically achy on days that I missed my practice.
It was difficult to articulate the ways that yoga had created clarity of both mind and body, creating a calm start to previously rattling days. In some magical way, breathing deeply and stretching rhythmically centered me, so I could methodically target the pile of pages that needed to be organized, edited, and proofed during this short period.
Way to Begin Each Day on the Right Foot
Even after my working vacation, yoga continued as an essential way to begin each day on the right foot. Back at work, I would even sneak out of my office to my private sanctuary during lunch hour, a quiet space with stained-glass windows where I could practice a few minutes of my own routine to battle the stress. Before I knew it, yoga tapes also helped me wind down from deadline-driven projects and the intensity of juggling multiple demands.
A couple years ago, my favorite yoga television show stopped airing in our area, and my sleep struggles worsened. I tried to replay old yoga videos but started to slip from my daily routine. Soon I discovered power yoga and yoga fusion, appealing variations that blend some dance moves—an old love—and step up the pace with rhythmic music to keep me—and my abs—engaged.
Essential Ritual for a Healthy and Productive Day
Now, I try to carve out time for this essential ritual as part of a healthy and productive day. Without a doubt, even if I am short on sleep, I always feel better on the days that I practice. As a writer who is constantly spinning story ideas, my yoga bookends provide focus for multiplying seedlings that would otherwise scatter in a million directions.
The 20 minutes of postures opening each day help me harness my energy and organize my thoughts. My nightly yoga routine, closing my workday, physically signals my mind—through my body—that it is time to rest and rejuvenate.
With the daily bookends of my practice and even mini-sessions to help me stay on track during the day, yoga has become a wise, gentle and lifesaving guide in my life.