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?
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]