Barbara McGranahan is one of WholeHeart’s members who attends several classes a week. She met up with Pam to talk about her student story and how yoga has changed her life.
Barb was always aware of fitness. She is a professional in the medical world, and was certified as a Health Fitness Specialist at one point in her career as a nurse. She started some yoga in the 1970’s for a short time. Years later, when a family member began a rapid health decline, she says “I needed something that would allow me to have ‘me’ time, other than work and dealing with an ailing family member.”
Barbara’s story: “I started with yoga 1x week. Really enjoyed it – and then had the time – through work changes, to do more yoga. I always like to try different instructors. Then I got a real sense of MORE becoming better – because I started to feel better!
My allegiance to the more traditional components of a fitness program started to shift. I looked at a lot of research and articles, and found that yes, you do need to keep the blood flowing through the circulatory tree – but how aggressive you become, whether you do running or some interval training or a walking program (and then add the aging factor) – you need to be kinder to the joints!
Stretching and flexibility took on greater meaning; my work moved me into more and more sitting; I had an 8 hour day, a 40+ hour work week. It started out as a combination of sitting, standing, moving around, and then gradually moved to more computer work.
So – with the emphasis on flexibility, and then the strength training component that yoga offers, I started to see that I was getting more muscle definition, particularly in my upper body. I never achieved that with free weights, with machines, – but through the various poses within yoga and really using upper body muscles, that made a big difference.
These days I plan my activities around my yoga rather than vice versa. Because I know I’m not going to feel as good, perform as well, if I don’t. I just went to my 50th reunion, and people came up to me and said “what are you doing?” and I told them, yoga! People look at the group photo – and tell me “You look like you’re 10 years younger than your classmates!”.
Also, the meditative aspect of yoga is very, very helpful for me because I have a very racing mind, and I have to have some time when I’m not engaging my brain (in planning mode). Sleep – you sleep better! Your blood pressure is better. I figure I’m living proof.”
A few more notes: Barbara recently did some traveling, and returned with an injury. She says “because I’ve gotten so strong with yoga, if I do sustain an injury, my rebound time is phenomenal. I jumped right back into yoga as soon as I got back. And it really was the stretching that helped me heal the sciatica.”
She also sees the value of private sessions. “I highly recommend that people who are very new, with no background in health/fitness/wellness, do one 1:1 so they can learn postures correctly, and the why’s and wherefore’s. I think this would greatly help new people stay for more than one class.”