I Wanna Asana

I have a long, sordid spotty history with yoga.

It started with me thinking it would be good for me.  I am very inflexible.  (I mean physically, but, yes, I am emotionally inflexible too.  Sigh.)  I don’t relax well.  Or often.  I wouldn’t know zen if it kicked me in the face fell into my legs-crossed-lap.

So about a decade ago I tried a class at my (since closed) gym.  I hated it.  Every single blissful moment.  Even single UN-focused breath.  Every pose.  Every reminder of my inflexibility and my distracted mind.  I made a shopping list in my head.  And counted the moments until class was over rather than focused on the moments as they were happening.  No zen.  No repeating class.  No yoga for me.

A year or so passed.  Still inflexible.  Still thinking about how to improve myself.  Still suspecting yoga would be good for me.  “If at first you don’t succeed…”  – could it apply to yoga?  No, it could not.  Attempt two was much like my first attempt.  As was the next time I tried.  I was a yoga failure.  A drop-out.  Or maybe I was a pragmatist who correctly understood that yoga and I were like oil and water.

And so I gave up trying.  Decided that much as yoga might be “good” for me, it was fighting all my natural tendencies and so “not me.”  My mind said “no.”  My body said “no.”  Who was I not to listen?!

Fast forward several years (to January 2010 and) to the new and improving me, having started a blog and embarked on what I naively truly thought would be my “last ever diet” as I changed my paradigm and changed my lifestyle.

Cue theme song from “Chariots of Fire.”

The exercise gods aligned.  At my new gym, I accidentally discovered that my favorite fitness instructor (who taught my strength classes) also taught yoga.  And one of the sessions was immediately following my cycling class in the very same studio!  Hello!?  How big a hint is that?  (Oprah would say that the universe was whispering very loudly.)  But… I hate yoga.  But… I know yoga would be good for me.  But… I don’t want to do it.  But… I sorta actually want to do it.

So I tried.  And, as I expected, I was still embarrassingly inflexible.  And awkward.  And still plagued with a wondering mind.  BUT, something was different this time.  I’m not sure exactly what.  Could have been me; maybe I was just ready.  But I suspect that most of the credit goes to my instructor.  I love her.  In that way that an exercise devotee can love an instructor:)  She has a great personality and, much to my liking, is neither overly zen or touchy-feely about it all.  IMO her class is very much about strength and flexibility.  I could feel my muscles shaking.  Sometimes screaming.  I felt them stretching.  Still screaming.  It almost quieted the other thoughts trying to cram into my head.  I liked it.  Hey, Mikey, I liked it.  I went again.  And again.  And darned if I didn’t eventually feel me some zen.  Wow.  Yoga.  Zen.  Me.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Relax.

And just when you thought this was the happy ending to my yoga story – it wasn’t.  I broke a bone.  Unrelated.  I went through months of rehab to gain back strength and movement in my shoulder.  No downward dogs for me.  And just like that, the momentum was lost.  The zen was forgotten.  The magic was over.

Why is it so hard to go back again?  To start or to start over?  To change routine?  I was working out consistently at home but the idea of changing my schedule and heading back to yoga class was daunting.  I was in a groove.  Feeling comfortable with the status quo.  Feeling inertia.  Stuck in my non-yoga rut.  In the back of my mind was always the thought that I should get myself back to class.  The fading memory that I had actually liked it.  Felt good doing it.  Felt great after.  I read about other bloggers discovering yoga for the first time.  Or continuing with their practice.  I felt myself yearning.  Just a bit.  Just not enough.  To get it done.

But sometimes something good comes from something bad.  I strained my calf muscle.  It was slow to heal.  And I had to stop doing cardio.  And eventually start back to exercise in a manner least likely to cause re-injury.  Can you guess what’s coming?

Yoga.

So there I was, after a couple of weeks of “rest.”  Almost rearing to go.  Out the door.  Battling the Resolutionaries* at the gym for floor space.  On the mat.  Starting over.  Hands overhead.  Butt over head.  Sun salutations.  Almost proud warrior.  Triangle pose.

Om.  (No, we really don’t say that in my class.  But you get the point.  Yes?)

Immediately I felt it come over me.  The return to zen.  Or as close to zen as I ever get.  Briefly.  Fleetingly.  My mind went in and out of “the moment.”  All too often drifting here as the idea for this post flitted through and I feared would be lost.  But still, I felt something.  And that something was “good.”  And along with “something” I felt aches.  And the return of screaming muscles.  And shakiness.  And inflexible and uncoordinated.  But I felt good.  Really, really good.  And when it was over I knew I was back.  And that I’d BE back.

And so I have.  Twice a week since.  My new, kinder, gentler exercise regime.  Yoga.  Me.  Me:)

Photo credit [Talking Sun]

* “Awesome new word” credit [Michele@WithinReach]

 

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79 Comments

Filed under exercise, history (my past)

79 responses to “I Wanna Asana

  1. I’m glad you’ve rediscovered yoga. I did it a few years ago but was always sore afterwards. I’m a bit overly flexible and had problems because I locked my knees and came out of it with overly stretched hamstrings etc… But having said all of that – I went for a few months until my instructor left.

    I guess I should think about trying it again and reading about those such as yourself (and other bloggers) who enjoy it make me wanna give it another go. Plus it’s nice to think about exercise in more-than-burning-calories way!

    Deb

    • Which is why it was a good thing, I guess, that I hurt my calf. Because otherwise I’d have stayed with my habit that and burned calories. Of course, I REALLY miss the calorie burning part!

  2. I’m glad you found something you enjoy…or can at least tolerate. That’s really the key to it all.

    I don’t get the ‘zen’ feeling, but I do enjoy the stretching and quietness of yoga.

    • Ah, but maybe that’s your zen. I think it all comes down to defining it for ourselves. For me, it is fleeting. My mind still wants to go somewhere else. BUT, there is “something.” And I like it:)

  3. Sounds like a great thing! I’m worried about yoga or pilates now because I feel “too fat” to do it. I will try it some day though!

    • Normally I’d be one to say not to let your size hold you back from trying something but I can see how the experience might be tainted for you if you feel that way. And then you might not try again. So… a goal for you perhaps?

  4. I still haven’t been bit by the yoga bug, but after my last back episode, I think I may need to reconsider. Glad you are enjoying it!

    • When my mom had back issues several years ago she was given a series of stretches to do. I don’t remember most of them but I do remember that one was “cat cow” which is a yoga asana:) That said, I’ve heard buzz lately about yoga injuries! So if you try, be very careful please.

  5. Im glad you finally got back into it. I think everyone should give yoga a solid chance, but sometimes the instructors or location can make or break it. I wanted to love yoga, but had horrible teachers until last year. Glad you’re finally enjoying it and doing it regularly 🙂

    • The teachers make a HUGE difference! Even when I was on vacation and tried chair yoga twice. If I’d had the second instructor first, I’d never have gone back that second time.

  6. It took me several times to admit that I really like yoga — although it was pretty clear from the start that it is really good for me. I still prefer a short DVD at home (< 30 min or I get restless) although I did enjoy the hour long class I went to in December.

    • So… I had really been intending to get back to this and since I could not get myself out the door to class, I got some DVDs from the library. I think I tried one once. I just don’t do well with something like that at home. Not sure if I’m not disciplined enough or if being in the middle of my living room just doesn’t work for me.

  7. I tried Yoga a couple of times with Tish and really enjoyed it, but haven’t attempted to find a class at home. One meets at my church, but I’ve gotten the impression that it is “experts” and hate to admit that I’m intimidated to try it, but that’s the bottom line!

    • I think you are smart not to join that level! Not because of the intimidation as much as the level of instruction you might (or might not) receive and the poses they might choose. My class is at a community center which I’m guessing has less “experts” than the yoga studios around town. Yes, I look around the room. There are people of all ages and abilities and a few are REALLY flexible. But many are beginners or will always be “beginners” because of physical limitations, many brought on by age. (Knees, for example.) My instructor is great at really explaining each pose when we first move into it. AND, she give modifications both for those who want to do more and those who need a bit less.

  8. I’m glad you’ve found something you can do. And given your history with yoga, it sounds like this is far more meaningful than just giving you some exercise you can do.

    It always intrigues me when people talk about not wanting to go to yoga because they’re too fat (I’m not singling you out — I mean people in general — you hear it all the time), and usually, the people who are saying it aren’t all that fat at all in comparison to some of us. I go to yoga classes sometimes, and I do enjoy them. I keep in mind that this is about me… not anyone else. And if anyone else wants to look at me because I’m truly fat and am in this class… let them look… and let them admire my willingness to do things that are good for me no matter what my weight.

    • Good for you! I admit that I sometimes do notice other people at the gym, for whatever reason, not just size. My gym for example has a lot of older people. And one lady who I notice because of her hair, of all things, perfectly in place, clearly sprayed to stay that way. So, yes, I look, a bit. BUT, I never judge. And when I see someone who clearly is a beginner at anything, or overweight, or a senior, I am actually very impressed and respect them being there.

  9. KLA

    Too funny. I tried a yoga class once and found it incredibly frustrating. It’s unlikely I’ll give it a try again, but maybe if I found the right class and the right instructor. Congratulations on finding your yogo mojo!

  10. I am a total yoga hater. I’ve tried, I really have but I just don’t like it. I wish I did because I need to be more flexible and strong, but I know it’s just not gonna happen.

    Hope you learn to love it.

    • Kudos to you for knowing what you like. Or in this case – don’t like:) It’s not for everyone. My SIL loves tai chi. I tried it and HATED every second of it. Never again. Ugh.

  11. I bought a yoga DVD to try here at home. I, too, feel uncoordinated and unbalanced, so I thought it would be good for me. I have only popped it in once, and ended up skipping through a lot of it because it seemed like the “instructor” was not doing anything. LOL – Sometime I will have to really buckle down and give the whole thing a go…I need some zen in my life. 🙂

    -Erica

    • I got a bunch from the library this year. Tried only one. For me, doing it to the DVD was harder. Not physically, I guess. But following along. And not getting distracted. That said, I suspect there are some great DVDs out there. We just need to find them.

      • You’re probably right…I am more inclined to become distracted at home than in a studio (especially with my two chicklets running around demanding my attention). If I felt more confident, I would attend a yoga class at my gym. I just feel like I would distract everyone else (with all my wobbling and personal giggling…because I giggle when I get nervous – LOL). Oh well…someday, right? 🙂

        -Erica

        • For what it’s worth, my opinion is don’t feel you need to wait. Just don’t join an advanced class:) My gym clearly has beginners every week. Sure they might wobble. But, trust me, no one cares. And if your gym doesn’t make you feel comfortable as a newbie, try another.

  12. I firmly believe this too:
    But sometimes something good comes from something bad.
    We just may not see it until when we are in the “bad.”

    So, good for you in rediscovering yoga.

  13. Ewa

    I did hot yoga for a while. It was fun. Now there is just too much going on in my life to fit it into my schedule (good excuse, isn’t it?).
    Glad you are getting into yoga. It is a great exercise.

    • I heard people wondering about that the other day. I’m not sure how I’d feel all hot and sweaty. But I guess that in theory your muscles are more flexible when hot?

  14. Amy

    A wise yoga instructor of mine said to accecpt the thoughts in your head. Having a clear mind is high expectation on yourself. Just focus on being present in the moment. If you wander of, bring yourself back but without penalizing yourself for wandering.

  15. Yoga is going to definitely be on my try list for 2o12. Not only for the added benefit of the calm I need right now but because even with all my stretching, I do feel with age, the need for more things to help keep my “pliable”! 😉 Good for you Karen! I will let you know when I try!

    • It would be a good cross training for you weight lifting, IMO. The other thing that is important as we age, as I’m sure you know, is balance. And yoga is great for that too.

  16. I can look out my study window and see the yoga studio 1 block away. Haven’t tried it, though. I’m SO not a group exercise person (although back in the day I used to do aerobic class six days a week). I suppose I might possibly be that person who wants to be best in the class or doesn’t want to go. Just sayin’. 🙂

    • I am a big fan of the group exercise thing. Maybe for me it is “misery loves company?” Actually, I just find it more motivating when I’m not working out alone.

  17. Years ago I went into yoga thinking of it as a “should” (kind of like your “it will be good for me) and I did like it, but was too focused on being good at it instead of just being. I viewed yoga as “maybe this will be the magic thing that makes me look like a supermodel.” So I quit.

    Now I want yoga because I want my body/mind/spirit to feel better. I have been doing AM Yoga (which I basically know by heart, so I just listen to Rodney Yee as he leads me through it) every other day or so. At one point a year or so ago I got all committed and said that I was going to do it every day. Now? My mantra is “just do it (a little more than you don’t)”

    Meanwhile, I’m been looking around for a class that’s close by, gentle, and at a time that suits my schedule.

    • Your approach to this is… well… very zen. How fitting:) I still think of it as something that is good for me, but I also think of it as something I like. Makes a huge difference. And I love how I feel at the end of class, after she’s had us relaxing for about 10 minutes. I could almost stay there and nap:)

  18. So you had to get hobbled to return. The universe works in mysterious ways. I like that you always try to find a work around to get your exercise. I admire it. As you know I am inveterate shlub.

    I get tired of people saying “But you are so flexible, you should love yoga!”. Nope. I will happily stretch, do splits, put my foot behind my head, but yoga annoys me. I am cranky and yoga makes me even crankier. The universe whispers loudly the other way too.

    Meow.

    • Oh you do crack me up:) And I should hate it because I am so inflexible? It is darn hard for me. And I’m not sure if I’ll ever gain much flexibility. But the stretching is good for me regardless. And let me tell you that it took me YEARS to make exercise a part of my daily life. YEARS!!! I guess we really CAN change:)

  19. KarenJ

    I totally (totally) related! My husband who is flexible in many ways, but not physically, absolutely LOVED yoga. I thought it might be something we could share. I was wrong. However, I did develop a “like” for pilates, which is sort of a cousin to yoga without the zen. And there are some classes which combine elements of both, which is tolerable. Every time I hear how wonderful yoga is for strength (and weight loss), I feel pangs of guilt that I just can’t get into it. But to each his own.

    • I used to do a pilates mat class too. I saw great improvements in my core strength. One more thing to add to the list to do.

      As for my husband…. I convinced him to try with me when I found that class I liked two years ago. After I’d gone a few times. He came. He like it too! He stopped when I stopped. I invited him back but so far he has stuck to his morning run on the treadmill at home. We’ll see if he decides to join me at some point.

  20. The most sore I’ve ever been after a workout was from doing yoga. I quit in embarrassment after repeatedly falling over on a squatting pose and the instructor had to hold me up. He didn’t say anything negative, but I was totally mortified and never went back!
    Lori

    • Oh no! I’ve never seen my instructor touch anyone. She’s not that kind of person and this isn’t that kind of class, I guess. But I have heard her explain modifications for people who need them. Maybe you can try again with someone who has an approach more like that:)

  21. I enjoy yoga- probably one of my favorite P90X workouts- which reminds me now that I’m feeling better I think I might start doing some exercises again 🙂 Yoga sounds great right now while I’m small enough to do it 🙂

    • Oh – I forgot about that! I got the DVDs last year and have never done them. My trainer has them and only uses the yoga one and she says it is KILLER! Hmm… Maybe I’ll try someday.

  22. Congrats on loving yoga! It can be such a good thing. As long as there is no Downward Facing Dog…

  23. Hi Karen! I’m so happy you’re trying it again. I think that people go through different life stages. Yoga would not have been right for me 10 years ago.

    I look at exercising differently now. It’s not so much about getting fit in 90 days and more about self-exploration. So have fun exploring yourself. And–the yoga teacher can make *all* the difference in love or hate.

    I don’t worry at all about finding relaxation in yoga, though, at times I really have. Mostly, I think it’s fun.

    My favorite yoga partner? Me all by myself with Pitbull and his crowd cheering me on. 😀

    🙂 Marion

    • I’d never heard of him before… just did an internet search. I’m not sure I consider my yoga fun. But somehow I do like it. I know, semantics. But I don’t think I like it because it is enjoyable as much as the feeling I get from doing it, if that makes sense.

  24. I am so glad you found your Zen again! I too learned to like yoga because of an injury. Before I was forced to go to yoga out of desperation to do any form of exercise- I always thought I didn’t like it. Now I have found I need it AND I enjoy it. I am still a cardio girl at heart… but I need and crave the balance that yoga brings to my life.

    • I remember a time when I was doing yoga before and there was a family crisis that was very stressful. I craved yoga! Actually, I craved exercise of any kind then. It was an epiphany at the time.

  25. I hate to be a hater – but I’m with Marie@feedingfive who admits unabashedly to being a yoga hater. I’m not flexible and I was delighted to see a story on the news a week or so ago about the dangers of yoga…something about doctors seeing a lot of injuries (probably from inflexible folks like me trying twisting poses). I stick with pilates and sitting still kind of meditation. But I admire your tenacity – getting back again and again on the yoga train.

    • Someone sent me an article about yoga injuries. Yikes! And some people we talking about it at the gym before class recently. My guess is those injuries come with moves far more advanced than anything I’d ever do. BUT, it was interesting to hear because it made me aware of being careful about not pushing myself beyond what was good for me.

  26. Karen, I really hope your calf pain ends and you can return to your cardio soon. I know how much I’ve missed my walking and biking, and am happy to — hopefully — be healed enough to be able to resume those activities. But your Yoga story reminded me that I made a little mental pledge to myself to begin daily stretching to increase my flexibility. Then, I never actually started it. But I will today. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Every time I got to the spa I take at least one stretching class and every time I’m in that class I tell myself that I really need to do that at home! Actually, I should be stretching a lot for my calf and am doing very little:(

  27. I hope you will continue to do yoga! The only way to get better at relaxing is to practice relaxing. It’s a Zen thing.

    I had a CCU patient who had a heart attack. He happened top be an engineer. I talked to him about the importance of relaxing from all the stress he felt. He said he would work really hard to do that! UGG!

  28. One of my fitness resolutions this year is to try yoga. I am very flexible, but my knee problems will prohibit many of the moves so I need to talk to an instructor about how to modify.

    Hope you continue to heal and enjoy!

    • Absolutely you should talk to the instructor! Also, see if there’s chair yoga offered. My mom and I tried it on our spa trip; she has a bad knee and can’t or won’t do traditional yoga. I found a class at home, a bit of a drive but not too far, and she and I are going to try it together next week.

  29. A good reminder that it can be a good idea to give something a 3rd or 4th try. Did you ever locate the instructor you liked so well?

  30. How happy am I for you!! It was most certainly your time, Karen. Thrilled that you are enjoying it 🙂

  31. The teacher makes SUCH a big difference. I was a reluctant yogi for many years before finally taking the plunge and going to a studio instead of a class at my gym, and it made all the difference. There’s such a wide variety in quality and styles out there – glad you found one you liked!

    • I agree. And I think for me, the ones at the studios might actually be more serious and zen than I’d like. Maybe. I guess I won’t know if I don’t try. But this is working well for me and wayyyyy cheaper than a studio.

  32. I totally wasn’t expecting the whole “broke a bone” part of the story. Asana, baby. Asanaaa

  33. Every once in a while I get these urges to do yoga! I think it’s from seeing pictures of relaxed yogis in magazines. I have bought myself a yoga mat and thinking of trying it again.

  34. You are so right, Karen. The teacher makes a big difference! I always suggest people search around until they find the one that fits. I don’t think when people first try yoga they know just how many flavors of yoga there are! It’s great that you were able to get back to it and finally find your Zen 🙂

    • At my gym the other day I overhead a woman asking another person in class, “BUT what kind of yoga is this?” I have no idea either. I’m thinking a mix?

  35. I have thought about giving yoga a try but I am so not a group exercise kind of person! I did buy a DVD for yoga so perhaps I need to give it a try again. I know it would be an awesome stress reducer. So glad you found your zen again.

    • It’s odd when I think about it, but I am SOOO a group exercise person. Maybe misery loves company? It’s probably really because I don’t usually have the motivation to get it done on my own.

  36. I have always wanted to try yoga, but my shoulder may never tolerate it after last year’s injury. Good for you trying it again. I know many people who swear by the benefits!

  37. One of the best Yoga posts I’ve read. I can almost feel those muscles warming and stretching.
    You’re even making me crave something like it.
    I’m happy for you. I think it will continue to really enhance your fitness and health. It seems like a great missing peice for you.
    I did tape a yoga class on t.v. that my 4 1/2 year old and I intend to try. We already have mats and everything!

    • I actually got onto netflix yesterday to see if I could stream any good, fast yoga at home. (I know my attention span here will be short.) And I saw some for moms. Great idea:)

  38. Kismet is what I think it is. Everything aligned. I’ve done yoga a few different times (periods of time) and I loved it but eventually get lazy and stop going. This time is different. This studio just clicks and the teacher is amazing. The first two classes I took with her I cried during the the classes, and then all the way home. Her focus is 50/50 ‘yoga’ and the mental/spiritual aspect of yoga. I have such a terrible time quieting my mind and she’s constantly reminding us to be grateful and stay present and not let our mind wander. Something about her just really resonates with me. I’ve had many different teachers, but she’s the one that I click with. I found my thing. I’m glad you like it too!!

  39. Very funny post :). I also have a love/hate relationship with yoga. Congrats on finding a new thing to do every week and looking forward to updates!

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