Wood flooring contractor Mike Dittmer found yoga to be the cure for his back pain.Everyone wishes they had a sister like mine that they could visit—she lives on Maui. On the island, she is on top of all the good, healthy things for you. That turned out to be a fortunate thing for me. I have had numerous back issues over the years, and we know that as wood floor guys, our bodies are our most important asset. My sister, having seen what I do for a living, realized that I needed to take a little bit better care of myself than what I had been doing.

This prompted the suggestion from her that I try yoga as a way to strengthen and make my muscles more flexible so that they last me a lifetime. She could see how great of shape practicing yoga kept her in and suggested it could do the same for me.

So, the journey began about nine years ago. I went to the first class somewhat nervous, not knowing what to expect. And so I found myself in a room full of women who had been practicing for a few years at least. I was the lone guy—not too bad of a problem!

It was somewhat helpful because some of the women in the class were my customers, and all of them encouraged me. The teacher was also a client, and she was wonderful. She knew that I needed to strengthen my core, which in turn helps my back.

Gradually there have been a few more men in the classes with me. It's great because we know how important it is to take care of our bodies, and I haven't had any back issues since I began yoga.

The secondary benefit, which I have realized only in the last few years, is the mental/spiritual part of the practice. I have begun to use what I learned in class to focus and settle my mind down. On those days when the client or employee is just a pain to deal with, I can just take some deep breaths and focus, relax and not explode. I can answer them rationally and with clarity and answer the issue well. I can leave the conversation with a smile, too. Yoga is a great journey to be on. It's a work in progress or a practice, and it keeps me fit and focused for my day and my life.

Michael Dittmer grew up in the wood flooring business; he now owns Michael Dittmer Wood Floors in Putnam, Ill. and is an NWFA Regional Instructor.