The Sandwich Generation: Why We Need Yoga
I’m going to recommend that anyone who finds themselves a member of the sandwich generation seriously consider investing in the practice of yoga. At 37 years old, yoga has been my first step to realizing myself as an adult, and beyond the amazing health benefits, it’s changing the way I interact with my friends and family.
Now, before I get to the meat of this, first let me address the naysayers (and I myself once was one). There are people who think their precious “me time” is going to darn well be spent doing something that burns calories! They say “Yoga is boring,” “It’s not challenging,” or “I burn more calories running.” Well, I appreciate your perspective – but I hope you’ll listen to what I have to say. I also hope you’ll realize there are a lot of different kinds of yoga – and the kind that has worked for me happens to be hot vinyasa flow, which certainly rivals running and CrossFit when it comes to calorie burn. Do I have your attention? Here are my top reasons why yoga is the perfect practice for a “sandwicher” who needs to find some “me time”.
Reasons Why the Sandwich Generation Needs Yoga
1. In the Moment: When you’re in a 90-100 degree studio for 90 minutes doing vigorous and pretzel-defying poses, you can do nothing else but focus on getting through that class. You’re not thinking about your aging parents, you’re not thinking about whether you’re doing enough for them – you just are. You’re in the moment, and you’re letting go of everything around you, and in that sweaty daze you find peace.
2. All You Need is Within You Right Now: The whole point of yoga is to meet yourself where you are. You don’t compare yourself to the person next to you. You don’t try to do things that you’re not capable of. You use what you have within you at that moment – and you accept that that’s good enough. When your day-to-day seems to tell you that you’re failing to “Lean In”, or to meet all the responsibilities and expectations of being a parent, a caregiver, or a spouse – discovering how to accept yourself as you is invaluable.
3. Find Comfort in the Discomfort: Every sport has a way of asking you to deal with that breaking point where you think your muscles are going to burst. Most involve yelling, or telling you to suck it up, or shaming you into pushing through. Yoga on the other hand asks you to settle in, to accept how you’re feeling, and to find comfort in it. It asks you not to finish as quickly as possible and then move on – but to sit with it – take it in. The lesson is that if you can find calm in a pose that might want to make you throw up – that you can probably get through the discomfort of selecting an assisted living facility, or surviving a really hard doctor’s appointment.
4. Open and Release: Yoga teaches you to receive, and to open yourself up to others. It’s not unusual to cry during your practice, or to have to settle into child’s pose to contain the emotion that is spilling out of you. And this is the good stuff – the stuff you want to spill out of you so that you can release it and make room for the people you love in your life.
5. You’re Good Enough: I’ve tried it all and yoga, by far, is the most challenging and rewarding form of exercise in my eyes. I’ve never sweat so hard in my life, or felt so accomplished. I used to think running was great because I had a goal. But after a few half-marathons and still not feeling satisfied, I realized that I would never feel “good enough” with running. In yoga I am reminded that I’m good enough each time I practice. And something that makes you feel good, when you wonder daily if you’re doing the right things for your family, is worth gold.
6. Share It with Your Family: You can share yoga with your kids! My five-year-old daughter LOVES yoga, and it nearly brings tears to my eyes to bring her to her “Flow and Grow” class where they begin by sharing self-affirmations. If I had something like that at five years old, I might not have needed yoga to rescue me at nearly 40! For that matter, I’ve also got my parents interested. My mom asked me the other day if she thought it would be good for her to take an eight week series of gentle/healing yoga. YES, YES, YES!
7. Yoga Pants: And now for the superficial reason – everyone looks good in black yoga pants – and if I can have one more reason to wear them, then I’m all for it.
8. Breathe: Last but not least, yoga will teach you how to breathe. It might sound silly, but I bet you’re holding your breath right now – or taking short, shallow breaths that tell your body that you’re in “fight or flight” mode. It’s remarkable how your health and stress level will change when you learn how to breathe with intention.
I get that everyone needs to find their own “thing” for getting them through. I should mention that yoga isn’t my ONLY thing. Shoe shopping works miracles for the soul! But if you’re feeling stuck and could use a little stress relief you might consider yoga. I’m a different person because of it.