Sunday, September 27, 2009

Angles, Roundness and Laughter: My First Yoga Adventure

(Written Thursday September 24, 2009)

Today, I learned that I’m pretty much as flexible as I ever was during my track running high school days. (Except I can’t do the lotus position.) I also learned that no matter how flexible I am, my fat belly just plain gets in the way of me being able to do certain things (like grab my feet while I balance precariously on the flat part of my flat butt). I also learned that I need to work on strength training. And, the fourth thing I learned is that Yoga push-ups are far more complicated and physically demanding than any regular push up.

The class was an hour long and fifteen minutes into it, I was panting and sweating and staring at the clock, demanding that it go faster because I didn’t want to wimp out so early. I thought for sure I was in some movie-type of time warp where time had slowed, or, at least, the clock had broken. By the time sixty minutes rolled around I was relaxed and energized all at the same time. In my head I composed a Facebook blurb that I never posted, it went something like “just had my first yoga class. I was exhausted when it started and now I’m energized. How’s a girl to sleep?” I didn’t post it. I didn’t even get on the computer because I got home, peeled off my sweaty clothes, showered, talked to Deb for a minute, laid down, petted Biddy Kitty, told Jake the Little Booger Puppy to get his ding-a-ling off of my face and snuggled Indigo who seems to feel left out whenever we are dog sitting Serena and the Booger. Then I fell immediately and deeply asleep. I hit the snooze twice without waking and on the third time I was going to reset the alarm for fifteen minutes ago and realized I had to get my sore butt out of bed and quickly get ready for work because I was already a half hour later than what I expected.

Oddly enough, on some of the poses where the instructor counseled people that this one is really hard for a lot of people and for us to just do the best we can, I had no problem with, and the stretch felt really good (the triangle pose, standing, feet apart, leaning to the side, touching the floor with one hand and stretching the other to the ceiling). But some of the other poses that should have been easy (the aforementioned holding my feet in a crouch while balancing on my flat butt) were just plain funny when I though about getting this body there. During the butt balancing pose, I lay on the floor and laughed instead of grabbing my feet. (It is kind of like the old nuclear blast protection-grab your feet and kiss your behind goodbye-except instead of leaning down to protect your head, you are on your backside, kind of like a turtle who has been flipped upside-down.)

So, “they” say that if you are overweight and you lose ten percent of your body weight, you improve your chances of beating heart disease, diabetes, etc. (although my ten percent would be radically different than my 20 years ago ten percent, so I’m not sure where they get that figure). I wonder, if I were to lose ten percent of my body weight, would my yoga angles be able to be ten percent more acute? Would ten percent get me to the upside-down-butt-turtle pose? Would it get me back into the lotus position that was so easy for me as a kid? I wonder, would losing ten percent of my body weight push less on my diaphragm/lungs when I’m stretched so I am upside-down and touching the floor, sweating and gasping for air?

Being one of Kinsey’s ten percent, ten percent should be a lucky number for me, shouldn’t it? I’m going to try it, and I’m putting it her ein typing in order to try to make it more real and more of a commitment. If I make a public declaration of a thing, I am more likely to put it in to practice.

So, here it is: I am going to lose 28.48 pounds by the end of the year. That gives me 3 months-less than ten pounds per month. I can do that. Then comes the hard part- keeping it off.

Considering that today I got up and down more times in an hour than is required during a Catholic mass, I feel pretty good. My hips don’t hurt for the first time in months. And, although my shoulder is in a lot of pain, it’s a different type of gain than the senseless pain I’ve been having. Today’s pain is one of muscles well used, not of random violent bursts of agony. I’d say that’s an improvement. Oh yeah, despite laughing instead of doing the upside-down-turtle-but pose (I have no idea what the real name is), my butt muscles hurt. I feel like I am breathing deeper and freer than I have in a while, and my ribs don’t hurt as bad as they did yesterday. My radiated surgery scar hurts since that class. I think maybe it got stretched along with my muscles. Perhaps it will stretch enough to lose its rigid painful lumps. No expectations as far as that goes, but it would be a good side effect if it happened that way.

Thursdays are going to be a bit rough with Wednesday night being my Monday and having two academic classes on Thursday, and now Yoga after that. But, I think this is something good I can do for myself that is free (it is the official twice weekly meetings of the U of M Flint Yoga Club) and healthy and I get to entertain myself with the absurdity of trying to get this body into those positions. I’m running a comedy film in my brain.

Through it all, Jessica, the leader of the club, kept saying “that’s perfect” no matter how awkward or totally wrong we (me) posed. In her philosophy, it’s the movement and the act of being intentional that count. The first time I met her, last week, she said that everyone does yoga every day when they do something nice for another person. She says yoga is more than exercise; it’s a way of life. I’m not sure I can jump into that one, but I can stretch and move and breathe and laugh at myself.

During the final meditation, she asked that today “you do something good for yourself, someihtg good for another, and something good for your community.” I did one of those three, I took an hour of Rock and Roll, and hour of contemplating death, and an hour of breathing life. Those were for me. I didn’t do anything for another or for my community today, but as an imperfect person in an imperfect world, I can try again tomorrow.

Now stretch. Now breathe. Now laugh at yourself.

(the following was written on Friday, the next day)

Ow. Ow owowowowwwwch.
(the following was written a few hours after that)

I did some of the yoga stretches that I remember from class and I don’t feel quite so sore. More like achy now.

1 comment:

  1. Update on this: I weighed myself at the Rec Center after Yoga yesterday and if that scale matches the doctor's office scale, I have lost 4.3 pounds (without the crap in my pockets, make that 6.8 but I don't believe that for a second). I am not achy at all now. As a matter of fact, I haven't felt this pain free in a very long time. My center of gravity feels lower, more grounded. And when I start to get a little tired at work, I do a few yoga poses and get energized. I am breathing easier as well. So far, so good.