It doesn’t seem long ago that we were having picnics at the beach and enjoying the slower pace of summer. As the leaves move through their brilliant passage into the New England winter, I am reminded that the fall season, nearly over now, is a time of transition. New schools and routines for our children; new benchmarks and goals in our workplaces – we tend to re-center our lives and hunker down for the coming months.
Our minds may be racing as we adjust our thinking, but our bodies also bear the burden. Moving furniture for college students, taking in patio tables, raking leaves – we may not be prepared for these new motions. Times of transience can also result in changes in workout routines: from running on trails to treadmills, from casual pick-up
games to soccer tournaments. As we move the snow shovels to the front of the garage and replace the screens for the storm windows, it’s time to think about strengthening our muscles and preparing our bodies for the changing season.
People often ask me, “What is the best way to keep myself and my children in good physical shape in order to avoid injuries?” Whether they are speaking about sports injuries on the playing field or strained backs from yard work, my answer is the same: strength, balance, and flexibility are key to maintaining physical and mental health. Incorporating a regular yoga or strength-building practice addresses these areas of concern for lay people and athletes alike.
Around here with our large community of avid runners, rowers and cyclists, I see people of all ages and abilities, not just athletes, interested in adding yoga to their fitness regime. There is a definite trend toward varied workout routines and even those who do incorporate rigorous cardio and strength training tend to find a different, complementary set of benefits from a practice that stretches both body and mind.
The Yoga Alliance quotes studies show that 36.7 million, 15% of US adults practice yoga, up from 20.4 million in 2012. And yet, I talk to many people who worry about trying yoga because they don’t know how to get started, feel their body isn’t right for yoga or they need to fix something first. One of the best things about strength and flexibility training, however, is that there is always an entry point for everybody. Good practitioners and instructors know how to work with each student, safely developing their personal practice so it can be taken off the mat and into their daily lives.
Now, as we finish raking leaves, prepare to move snow, and adjust our lives to the changing seasons, remember your bodies and listen to what they need to remain injury-free and healthy through the coming months. During these days when darkness falls increasingly early – give yourself the gifts of calmness and purposeful energy so you can transition through the season mindfully.