I've ramped up my home practice of yoga recently, with more vigorous posture flows and more challenging poses. I've been wanting to do this for a while, but Quester and I, back in the fall, had agreed to do yoga together on a regular basis. He was still working on releasing some recurring lower-back pain, primarily through chiropractic care, and wasn't yet ready for vigorous yoga. But now that his back is strong and healthy (great Work, Quester!) we're both ready for more of a challenge.
We've been alternating between a CD made by my yoga teacher, of her intermediate-level Kripalu yoga posture flow, and a "power yoga" DVD that I gave Quester for Valentine's Day. Both have a lot in common with Astanga yoga. I took some Astanga classes a couple of years ago and loved it.
I'm happy to note that, while a few of the poses are a stretch (pun intended), I'm really in pretty good shape for this. It's a good way to start the spring. And not only does my yoga practice support physical activity and wellness, but it helps keep my emotions on a more even keel. It enhances my spiritual practice, as well. I know many pagans who do yoga, and it seems to fit very well with my own personal belief system and priorities.
Some of the poses I used to dread are now among my favorites. I have short hamstrings, so forward bends with straight legs have consistently been difficult. But now I love doing forward bends, and while I'm still not able to place my hands flat on the floor (yet), I'm able to get a really good stretch. I'm now physically stronger than before, too. Holding some of the strengthening poses, like warrior, is easy. And I can even lower myself from plank to upward dog during the Sun Salutation, with ease and grace.
The best part about taking my practice to a new level is the sheer joy! It feels really good, physically and emotionally, both during the actual practice, and as I take that energy "off the mat" and out into the rest of my life.