Okay, I am letting the "cat out of the bag" (is that the saying?), Karin-Lynn Cumming is my Mom and she is also one of the CSY Walking Group coaches. This is important because I am proud of her. Her story from "couch potato" to "personal trainer" is inspiring and at one time completely out of character and unexpected. (I will include her story on this blog in the near future).
It is also important because I know I got the best walking coach that I felt suited the needs of our yoga community and the future health and growth of a CSY Walking Community. Along with Meg Edgar, you couldn't find two more dedicated and enthusiastic coaches to introduce the power of walking. We are fortunate that they decided to come out on their own to lend their talents to our community exclusively.
But my experience walking with the CSY Walkers has background and of course all of our current experiences have a patina from our past experiences. Here is mine...
As I mentioned, I grew up with my mom as a couch potato. Not a lazy potato mind you. She was always busy and was always working on something. Come to think of it, she was rarely on the couch other than in the morning while she was applying her perfectly done make-up. The word couch potato (something she described herself as, not my words in case you were thinking I was sounding harsh) meant that she never wanted to sweat. She despised sweating. Her make-up would run and it was important to her at the time to be presentable. It was important to always show her "best face" to the outside world. My mom is a fan of fashion and design. At the time she didn't think that artsy, fashionable, designer types were athletic. She didn't identify herself as an "athlete."
Around 15 years ago something changed within her. Her health became more important than how she identified herself. She wanted to live longer and healthier. She no longer wanted to live her life plagued by weight and restrictions that she put on herself conscously or unconsciously. She decided to break down her "rules" and live more fully. She began to walk one step at a time.
Now for us, we didn't pay much attention at first. We figured that it was a phase that she was going through. But then we started to see things change. She grew stronger and more fit. Her mind cleared and she became more proactive about her needs. She became more vocal. This obviously caused some ripples in the family but we learned to flow around this new type of mom. We continued to roll our eyes and giggle as she slipped into walking pants, baseball hats and running shoes. But deep inside we were proud. We were amazed to see her come home rain soaked or watch her walk out the door in winter weather. Then came the races. She began to compete (against herself) in 5k, 10k and half marathons. She didn't need the spectators anymore. She did it for herself mostly because she ENJOYED it.
We still giggled when we saw her walking down the street with her walkers wiggle. Maybe we were even a little embarassed when she hooted or hollered when she saw us. Sometimes we even tuned her out when she told her "story" to others. But mostly we were proud and we were grateful that she was healthy and happy.
So I joined the CSY Walkers because I figured I better understand how she was going to coach this course. I also wanted to ensure that the values of Creating Space Yoga Studio was a part of the program. We both saw the value of combining yoga with walking. I knew that yoga alone was not enough to keep my students fit and strong. Cardio was important. My moms experience with coaching walking groups saw walkers suffer from the lack of proper stretching and from an unsteady understanding of what pure and functional movement was. Even though they were athletes, there was a disconnect with the body. I wanted to bring body awareness and the teaching of yoga into the athletic walking world. It was important that each walker understood that this walking path was their own. That the importance to listen to the body was paramount. I wanted to make sure that the group was inclusive, welcoming, informative, safe and fun. It was all of that and more.
Once I got over the fact that I was walking with a wiggle like my mom (and admittedly grateful that I walked in the night group incase my sister or brother happened to see me), I realized that I too felt strong. I was surprised at how this type of walking engaged and supported a healthy core and pelvis. I saw that this was a fantastic cardio workout and I witnessed this walking group form friendships and support in such a short time. I saw excitement in eyes and pink glows on cheeks. I saw walkers who were pleased and surprised at this new found strength and endurance. I saw walkers of various speeds, ages, fitness levels walking together and they all worked well within one class. Barriers were being broke down. This CSY Walking Group had the potential to be a powerful side community to add to Creating Space Yoga Studio. I was pleased and excited.
So after the first five week "trial" group, it was obvious that we needed for this to continue. We will add another six weeks of coaching and yoga that will bring us right up to the holidays. We will take a break for January, February and come together in March with the first signs of spring. I hope that many more will take the leap of faith and experience the potential that they will find within themselves and perhaps even redefine themselves as yogis and athletes.