Ever since Sunday’s race, things have been pretty quiet over here, folks. Mostly just workin’ and workin’ out. As I consider the latter, it strikes me that yoga this week has been conspiring to try to teach me a thing or two.
On Monday, I went for an easy 2 km swim and took a Hot Yoga class.
Lesson #1 (Monday): Just try, and have fun with it.
I’ve been doing different kinds of yoga in various studios and at home for many years. I find yoga to be many things: Centering? Yes. Calming? Usually. Challenging? Absolutely. Rewarding? Mostly. It’s also been a pretty serious face activity, for me. The instructors are serious, the participants are serious – everyone is dedicated and intentional – and very, very serious.
Enter Sherlin. She’s an instructor at the gym I attend, and about a month ago, I started going to a Hot Flow Yoga class she teaches. Honestly, it’s really more of a Yin Yoga style class – lots of stretching, long holds, relaxing deeply into poses, etc. We don’t really flow that much. But I appreciate the stretching, the timing is convenient (right after BodyPump), and Sherlin doesn’t take herself too seriously. If you want a deeply meditative class, this isn’t the right one for you. Sherlin passes the time in the long holds by helping us steady our breathing, by reminding us to stay strong…and by telling stories and jokes. I must laugh out loud at least three times every class. This is so different from most other yoga classes I’ve attended, where even cracking my knee too loudly, or clearing my throat, seemed to draw unnecessary attention to myself.
So in class on Monday, we were working on a complicated balancing pose. She was talking us through the steps to get into it, and just before the release to balancing, lots of people were hesitating. She kept talking us through it, encouraging, prodding – and eventually she said, “Guys! It’s OK! It doesn’t have to be perfect. You might fall forward (safely). But try! Just have fun with it, and try!!!!!”
Fun? Yoga? To be honest, this was a new idea me. The thought has stuck with me throughout the week: Treat your practice seriously, but don’t get carried away. Enjoy moderation, take a few risks, and have a little fun! Not a bad life lesson, either, eh?
On Tuesday morning, KMN and I did one round of MacRitchie Reservoir (7.2 miles, to-and-from our front door). We got out pretty early for our run, and I really enjoyed it – legs felt pretty good, despite Sunday’s race. We were stalled briefly by a tree that had fallen on top of a swamp-surrounded “boardwalk” section of the path. Eventually, we got down on our hands and knees and slithered under the trunk, getting cozy with some of the branches. In the evening, I went to BodyPump, which was a pretty standard class. However, I do think it’s about time to bump up some of my weights (chest, back, biceps)… Encouraging, but a little scary! I thought about tacking on a yoga class, but had some work to finish – and didn’t want to have a bad practice, just because I went in already wiped out from run/Pump. One thing I wasn’t too wiped out for? Cooking up some delicious shrimp for dinner, as an accompaniment to my quinoa salad:
On Wednesday evening, I did a “real” Hot Flow class (not with Sherlin) and followed it up with a spin class. Man, Hot Yoga + Spin is a ridiculously sweaty combination. Extra training for running in the tropics, I guess!
Lesson #2 (Wednesday): Be flexible, in all aspects of your practice.
Our instructor began by reminding us that yoga is about flexibility – of the body and the mind. It’s also about the element of surprise – and being ready and able to adapt to whatever poses the instructor chooses on a given day. This was an important reminder for me, too: Don’t get ahead of yourself (or the instructor). Relax, open your ears, and work through whatever is asked of you. True in yoga, true in life.
KMN was stuck working late that night…so I enjoyed an egg salad sandwich on homemade (bread maker) bread, and a tangy coleslaw salad, with Mr. Lenovo:
I’d planned for a run today (Thursday), but my heel was feeling a bit sore this morning (Jeano, if you gave me your Foot Thing, then mine had better fix itself just as fast as yours did…). So instead, I spent some time with ice and my tennis ball, and by tonight, it felt well enough to handle Body Pump and Sherlin-Style Hot Flow. So, I headed for the gym.
Lesson #3 (Thursday): You thought you got the hang of Lessons #1 & #2? HAHAHAHA!! Try again!!!
Based on my experience on Tuesday, I increased some of my upper body weights for BodyPump, and thoroughly lifted my muscles to jello. Sweet! Then, I walked into yoga…and Sherlin wasn’t there. We had a substitute instructor. And he really wanted to flow. We planked, and chaturanga-ed, and upward/downward dogged, and lunged…all while my exhausted muscled protested. I didn’t want this challenging practice. I wanted a nice, simple, hip/hamstring stretch session. I was tired. And although he seemed like a pretty nice guy, I got mad at the instructor (in my head).
Then, I remembered Wednesday’s lesson: Be flexible. And I remembered Monday’s lesson: Just try, and have a little fun.
So I worked on relaxing. I tried to embrace my shaking legs, to breath through the tiredness, and to accept my practice where it was on this particular evening. I tried to give the poses my best, to not be afraid, and to have fun. I did the first two, although the third may have been a stretch (ha, ha) tonight. But as class closed, I realized that my body was feeling good – tired, but light, limber, and stretched. That’s some yoga magic right there, folks.
And finally…I love this shirt. Thank you, Rozzy!
Have your workouts taught you anything important lately?
Do you eat approximately 75% of your meals out of a bowl??
[I do, apparently.]