Yoga

Camera is still back ordered, so here goes exercise:

Yesterday was Yoga Day at the gym. I’m not sure if it was National Yoga Day across the nation, or just Get In Here And Try Some Classes Day at the gym. There seems to be a “This Day” and a “That Day” every day these days, so much that I’m not sure which ones are official and which ones are just marketing tools. But, since I’ve never done yoga before and always wanted to, I signed up for the informational session and decided to give it a try.

First Obstacle: 8 am. I try hard not to do mornings if I don’t have to. Cuts into my nights too much. BUT, I faithfully set my alarm for 6:30 and when it rang, I spent surprisingly little time snoozing it back off. I tried telling myself I was tired, but my body wouldn’t agree. So I was up by seven, took a shower, and was off to the gym with plenty of time to settle into a prime space before class started.

I’m really glad I went to the informational session. She showed us a few common poses, but most of all she showed us some key things about where our weight should be balanced during those poses, and what we should do if our bodies disagree with the pose in some way. The first session didn’t really challenge me too much, well, maybe it did, but I didn’t really feel like it did. We held a couple of poses for just about my limit, that’s about it. But I loved it, and signed up for the next class, two hours later.

Killed some time reading the gym newsletter, running on the elliptical for 100 calories (didn’t want to exhaust myself for the yet-unknown challenges of the “Restorative” yoga class), eating an energy bar (1 slimfast shake for breakfast wasn’t getting me through the morning), stretching, and reading the paper. Finally 11 am rolled around and I skipped back into Studio One for my first “real” yoga class.

The Informational Session instructor had advised against taking two mats for any class. This teacher encouraged it. I grabbed one thick block before class; the instructor told us we needed two. When I went back for another block, all the thick ones were gone, so I made do with a skinny one. Grabbed a strap as well. (Note to self: it seems Two of Each — like Noah’s strategy — is the best plan of attack. Next time I should take two straps, and keep one on each side. It’s awkward to be groping for the strap on the opposite side of the pose you’re trying to move into.)

This class was challenging and I admit I felt like a whale playing Twister at times. What saved me was the advice the Informational instructor had given about adjusting poses to what your body can actually do, as well as seeing the guy in front of me do exactly that. So I sat on my block rather than on my butt, which eliminated the knee pain from my surgery, and used my strap where necessary to lasso my feet to within grip. Mercifully I had sat in the seam where two mirrors meet, so I couldn’t see my own glory full-on for most of the class. But I really found myself not noticing myself or others around me too much. And the poses were okay enough to get into and hold. Downward Dog made my forearms scream, as they probably haven’t seen that much blood flow since childhood headstands. Outside of that one, I was really, really okay with everything. 

I had thought that yoga might be like pilates in making my muscles scream, but it’s really not like that at all. Pilates is an exercise. Yoga is more of a stretch. I thought the stretching machines might be equivalent, but yoga seems to mysteriously take those stretches and make them work better. I don’t know how; I can’t remember doing much different in yoga than I’ve done in other parts of my daily life. Yet what “hurt” afterward on my body was the strangest things. My chest felt like it does after you’ve spent a week coughing violently, only not in a bad way. My lungs felt bigger. My chest felt expanded. And my shoulders felt that after-exercise pain but in places that have never felt that pain before. I even somehow reached the muscle under my right arm, the one that extends from behind my shoulder blade to the inside of my elbow, that has been bothering me lately. I think I injured it somehow in the past, but never realized how it limited my mobility until I started stretching after exercise. I’ve felt the tightness but the stretches never reached it. But after yoga, I realized that muscle had somehow been reached. 

I will wrap up this post by saying, I LOVE YOGA!!! It’s now 36 hours since I did the class, and I STILL have more energy than I’ve had in months. I felt a bounce in my step and a new motivation to get at some chores that I’ve walked past for weeks. I made fresh apple juice and homemade pizza for the kids (I babysat today), and felt absolutely fabulous. I think this is life-changing stuff.

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