I hear the phrase everywhere. “Finding Balance”. It’s on the verge of cliche. But as a yoga teacher and a Navy wife, it easily summarizes my views on life and happiness.
There are several well-lifestyle practices I engage in, and plan to share with you. The underlying practice that shapes everything I do, and offers balance to my role as a military spouse, is yoga.
I started practicing yoga before I married my Sailor, to keep limber after running. After my wedding, first deployment, first PCS move, and first realization that my career goals would need to change, yoga grew into much more than a form of exercise. Prior to the Navy, I had lived as a successful control freak. Even when I was being spontaneous, I was in control. The Navy was quickly eroding that control, and it was stressing me out. I was moving from one end of the control spectrum to the other, and I needed balance.
Yoga became became my sanctuary. I retreated to my mat when I needed to escape from the world, the Navy, and all the things causing me stress.
After a couple of moves, yoga became a way to make friends outside of the military community. Sometimes, I didn’t want to talk about deployment, workups, advancement exams, etc. Sometimes, I just wanted to be Kristen. Not Kristen, the submarine spouse. Yoga studios gave me that opportunity, and I made wonderful friends.
Next, it became a filter for my problems. My yoga teacher suggested that I stop asking other people what they thought, and instead be quiet, and ask myself. I learned to meditate. I learned to witness my emotions, instead of letting them control me. People say everything looks better after a good night’s sleep. For me, everything looks better after a good yoga session followed by meditation.
Yoga is continually changing me. It shapes my muscles, my mind, and my happiness. I find a more positive outlook, a dedication to do no harm, and an ability to manage my health. It helps me balance all the things that matter to me, no matter what life or the Navy throws my way.
Now, I want to share the wealth. I teach several times a week, and I’m always willing (happy!) to talk about yoga and answer questions.
Military Spouses have many obstacles to face, emotionally and logistically. It’s hard to establish routines when the schedule keeps changing. Once we get our bearings, it’s time to move again. As spouses, we need flexibility, resiliency, and strength to succeed. We have to find balance between the needs of our spouses, our families, the military, our jobs, our friends, and ourselves. (Never forget yourself!)
I believe yoga can help us do that, and do it well. It’s not just exercise for the body, it’s exercise for the mind and the heart. Once a month, I’ll write about yoga and other wellness practices that help me handle the stress of military life.
In the meantime, check out a yoga class! Maybe at the base gym, your local YMCA, or at a yoga studio. Or, you could rent a beginner’s yoga video. (I started with Rodney Yee’s AM and PM yoga series, which you can find at Gaiam or Amazon.) But I promise, there’s nothing to fear in a public class. There are lots of different styles, so if you don’t like one class or video, try another. If you want to learn more about yoga in general, check out yogajournal.com. It’s full of free information on all aspects of yoga. Some people experience a profound life change after the first class. It took me years. Regardless, I’m sure you’ll benefit, even if it’s just feeling good from the stretching. And if you stick with it, it keeps getting better.