My Yoga Journey - Pam Shell
I’d like to share my yoga journey with you because I want people to know that you don’t have to be young, thin or limber to benefit from yoga. I tell many people that I think yoga has saved my life!
My yoga journey started on my 61st (July 28, 2015) birthday when I was weighing 291 pounds. I had experienced chest pains earlier in July and underwent a series of tests – which fortunately did not show any serious health problems other than elevated blood pressure and increased indigestion. However, I think that was a serious wake-up call for me and my family.
My three children had all been going to yoga classes for a while and they gave me a yoga mat for my birthday. Our family vacation was planned for the first two weeks in August and Nicole led family yoga classes daily on our deck which faced the ocean. Now when you are 61, have had two hip replacements and weigh 291 pounds – yoga is not easy! I stood next to the railing on the deck and held on for dear life to help me get down to my mat and back up from my mat. I was pretty miserable and embarrassed and just a little annoyed to be encouraged to do something so unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
After the first week our kids had to leave and my husband and I had our first ever solo vacation and we decided to continue doing some yoga on the deck. Neither one of us could remember many of the moves but we referred to some yoga cards that Allison left behind for us and managed 10-15 minutes daily – mostly trying to figure out what to do next. After our yoga session, my husband, who has been a life-long runner, went out for his daily run and I decided to walk down the street (it was too difficult to walk much in the sand at my weight) and each day I walked a little farther. By the end of the second week, the yoga was just the tiniest bit easier and my walking not as painful, so I decided to stick with it when I got home.
When I first started my home practice I used a dining room chair to help me get up and down because it was the sturdiest chair in the house. It took me several months (and losing some weight) before I could finally push myself up from the floor without the use of the chair. It was an amazing feeling to see the progress I was making! This is just the first one of the many amazing and wondrous changes that yoga has brought to my life!
When Nikki led that first yoga class on the deck, she had us pause for a moment to set an intention for the practice, the day, or our week. This aspect of yoga has been the most influential in my life. Taking that time to center myself, taking that moment every day to remind myself that I want to be a better person – to others and to myself – is what has changed my life. Now, I am far from perfect as a person, but I try to be a better wife, mother, friend, and co-worker and I am also so much more loving to myself as a result of setting that daily intention!
One of the ways that I am more loving to myself is a definite work in progress – I am learning to not use food emotionally. All my life I have used food emotionally and it led me to weigh over 300 pounds in 2012 and again in 2015. Since August, 2015 I have lost about 120 pounds and I feel so much better in so many ways!! I can say that it is still a struggle sometimes to eat healthily and mindfully. When I take that moment to set my intention, it gives me time to remind myself what I want in life – and what I want is to be kind and loving and healthy and productive and part of being healthy and productive is being active and finding a healthy weight. I walk daily, do some weight lifting and take Zumba classes in addition to yoga and enjoy all the ways that yoga has made being active easier!
With the support and encouragement from my family, I have recently begun yoga teacher training and I am so excited that I will be encouraging others on their yoga journeys!! My yoga journey is just beginning in so many ways and I look forward to the continued changes and growth I know I will experience just by taking the time daily to do something so wonderful for myself! My yoga practice has grown from struggling to do 10-15 minutes a day to enjoying a variety of classes at Yoga Squared and feeling comfortable and confident that I can participate fully in life! Namaste!!!