Jen Emmert

Jen Emmert writes at PriorFatGirl, candidly documenting her journey of losing 100 pounds through all of life's dramatic moments including new jobs, the death of her mom, wedding planning and, most recently, tornadoes. Jen's story has been seen in SHAPE Magazine, AOL.com, Woman's Day Magazine and many local news outlets. Follow her journey as she continues to fight for healthiness in an unhealthy world.

A complimentary escape.

Posted by: Jen Emmert under Health, Health maintenance Updated: August 14, 2011 - 10:07 PM

When a tornado rips through your life, your world gets turned upside down beyond what you ever thought imaginable.

 

 

A tree fell on my "normal" and windows came crashing in exposing my internal character and making me more vulnerable than I'd been in recent years. My insides were on display for everyone driving by. Contractors have been at our house the past two weeks completely demolishing the inside of the house, repairing every ceiling on both the first and second levels as well as an entire bedroom on the south side of the house where they found rotting wood.

On my continued quest to be healthy, I decided I needed to find an outlet for the mental stress. Balance in an unbalanced world. I need to find more ways to calm down and relax. Carlos, my fiance, would agree, I'm confident. 

This past Saturday, I decided to look for my balance at the Mall of America. No credit cards needed. The Lululemon Athletica store offers complimentary yoga every Saturday morning at 8:30am.

I woke up on Saturday and before I even got out bed, my mind started to dart back and forth trying to remember where I put my yoga mat. It had been over a year since I last used it. The time I went on a "I'm going to be a yogi" kick which lasted about three weeks. I enjoyed those three weeks last year but never really turned into a yogi. Yogi - it is a real word,  I Googled it:

yo·gi/ˈyōgē/

Noun: A person who is proficient in yoga.

(source)

Yogi I was not. Runner, yes. Weight lifter, yes. Yogi, no. I sat up in bed and let my feet hit the carpet. Iggy, our 2 year old fluffy white dog opened one eye and shut it when he realized how early it was. I quietly made my way into the loft area where our dresser had been displaced to and grabbed my "pretend to be a yogi" attire made up of a bright pink fitted t-shirt and black capris.

I walked downstairs and opened the door to the room which held all of our life's possessions. The day before the contractors came, we shoved our life into the room. I had remembered my yoga mat was in the closet tucked behind all of our materialistic things piled high.

Yoga step number one: climb over mountains of household goods to get to closet.

 

 

Yoga mat in hand, I made the 15 minute drive to the Mall of America. Parking was amazing - but who would have thought it would be anything other than a breeze at 8:00am on a Saturday. I walked into the mall and was greeted by silence. Off in the distance were two mall walkers. You know the ones. They wake up on Saturdays and speed walk the insides of the mall getting their distance in before most brush our teeth.

I found my way to the Lululemon Athletica store and walked in to find the store contents had been pushed to one side leaving a large open space in the middle, already filled with a few mats. The silence in the store created an ambiance setting the stage for what was coming.

 

 

I found a section of the store floor that had been unclaimed and unrolled my mat. I took a couple deep breaths and tried to calm down the voice inside me screaming "what are you doing here? You will make a fool out of yourself. Run while you still can!"   Yoga, I've decided, is one of the most intimidating "workout" activities for me because it challenges my body to move in ways I typically don't. Which also means the rolls of excess love handles also moves in weird ways. I was nervous the instructor would have us in some pretzel-like move and my stomach rolls would be forced to twist and hang while I would be feverishly trying to hold the position as I attempt to not fall over onto the nice woman who had set up mat next to me.

I spread my feet out and took deep breaths.

 

 

Our instructor introduced herself as Terry and welcomed us. Terry started some music which instantly catapulted the aura in the store to that of an official yoga studio. Terri had us start standing at the top of the mat with our arms extended in the air. We were told to lower our arms down and fold over at the waist while exhaling. It would have been appropriate for me to think calming thoughts but my mind ventured into the to-do list I had waiting for me.

Terry interrupted my thoughts as she told the class she was going to guide us through our first flow. We stood back up with our hands in the air and as if we had all been practicing a choreographed routine, all swan-dived into a folded over position. A few seconds of rest and then we stepped back with our feet leaving our hands at the top of the mat, entering into down-dog.

Over the next hour of yoga, my body was challenged to move in ways that seemed almost natural if it weren't for the resistance I felt from my muscles as they were being asked to move in ways that should be possible but hadn't been tried in a long time. Something magical happens in yoga. At some point in the class, your surroundings disappear as if you are alone. Alone with your thoughts. A calmness sweeps over you while you work to figure out each pose as if it is the most difficult thing you have going on in life at that moment. All external and environmental struggles fade away as your mind is absorbed in thought of poses. Nothing else seems to matter. It is as if for that moment in time, it is just you and yoga.

60 minutes passed quicker than I thought - the music ran out and I realized we were all lying on our backs. Terri called it the corpse pose. We laid there for about three minutes in absolute silence. It was the end of an hour in the morning where balance was found. I realized I would now have to go back out into the mall, back into the real world. 

September is National Yoga month - complimentary yoga can be found all over the Twin Cities with most studios offering your first week free. I dare you to think outside the mat and get your yogi on. Try it. Break through the intimidation barrier and let yourself be challenged. Let  your mind be balanced, if only for a moment in time. 

 

 

And if you are too uncomfortable to go alone for your first time, send me an email and let's do it together.

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