Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Month of Yoga: Week 1

The yoga place across the street has a new student special, where you can do 30 days for $30.  I signed up for the class with the intention of doing yoga each (or nearly each) day for 30 days, and seeing how I feel physically, mentally and emotionally after.  I ended up not doing any sort of 'before' to which I could measure an 'after', but I figured I would have some thoughts about it anyway - which I do!

Of the first seven days, I did yoga six (one day I was too busy - oh the irony!).   The first three days were rough.  I'm just terribly out of shape since the move - I have done little more than walking around (up hills, the dog, etc. but it's definitely not much), and have crammed myself in a UHaul and worked from home in probably not the best ergonomic conditions (for example, my desk chair arrives tomorrow, finally - although some days, I did work standing up which is even better than sitting).  Consequential, muscles are tight enough that now I know what they mean when they say 'screaming pain'.  I often had to back way off of postures I used to be able to do with no issues.  My shoulders in particular are so tight that one teacher asked me when I had my shoulder injury (I have had none).  I am also much weaker than I used to be - holding some arm, ab and leg posters ended up with much more shaking and counting the seconds instead of the breaths until they were over. 

How terrible it feels, and how easy it is to become out of shape compared to how hard it is to get into shape!

The last two classes showed some physical progress.  While I'm sure I wasn't actually more flexible or strong, I did feel much less resistant.  The final class of the week was a restorative/yin type class. Normally I like the intensity of a vinyasa/ashtanga class, but there was something about the week and the move and the rainy-ness of the night that convinced me to do a more contemplative practice.  Turns out it was just the ticket to be holding fewer, gentler poses for longer periods, and it was soothing to my mind to have the teacher work in some spiritual/intellectual study with the physical.

Speaking of the spiritual/intellectual, trying to quiet the mind in meditation at the end of the session got easier too as I stopped resisting the moves.  One day we did a guided meditation that was particularly good, and the last night was very peaceful.

When I was at the last boot camp I did, the instructor would talk about how he keeps in shape so that he can do whatever he wants to when the chance arises - he can go hiking or swimming, he can run a race next weekend if he feels like it.  And that's also what the instructors in the Buddhist pod casts I listen to also say - that we practice quieting thoughts and becoming mindful so that when situations arise where it is easy to lose track, we can stay centered.  And that's, of course, why practice - 'the harder you work, the luckier you are.'  This is one way I think about yoga, that helps keep the focus on the practice instead of a goal (weight-loss, some bliss experience - which, while nice things that would be great, don't help experience the moment): maybe that I am practicing for the sake of practicing, growing for the sake of growing, and then, it expands to fill everything.


Side note.  It is something I've learned from improv and yoga and various other outlets that you should not hold back from giving everything you can and doing the best you can, which for various reasons people do, and lead by your shining example.  I think it's also maybe even more important to do what you can even when you now it's not as good as you want it to be, as everyone else wants to see, because when other people see that, they can understand that it's not the only excellence that matters, but also the practice.

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