Friday, February 22, 2013

Yo Yo Exercising

Everyone, I'm sure, has different things that they give up at one point or another - an instrument, a sport, hobbies and activities - expecting that they'll get around to doing it again someday. At some point we face reality and decide that we'll probably never do said thing again but it was nice to have done it and boy don't we wish we had the time/skill/energy to get back into it? Then there's the things you try, aren't much good at and even hate, and then you throw in the towel fully expecting never to do it again.

For me these are running and yoga. I've always had a very strange love/hate relationship with running. I'd love to be able to run.  But running hates me and my joints/lungs/feet. (I promise not to use any more slashes now). I've taken up running - specifically running, not running as a result of doing another sport - probably about three times now. I've decided to quit and not try again all three times. I'm sure it will surface again and I'll decide, "This time it's different and I'll keep it up!"

Yoga, on the other hand, has been a much more complex experience for me. Yoga doesn't hate my body. Yoga is nice to my body. But my personal issues hate yoga. My feelings of limitation, the difficulty I experience in being focused mentally, the coordination and strength required for something that doesn't appear to be nearly so difficult, these things make yoga my nemesis.

The first time I tried yoga I was at Pacific. We had to have a phys ed credit to graduate so I took yoga thinking it would be good for my singing. I hated it. I was in a class of athletes who were taking it as part of their physical therapy program or as training for their sport. I was terrible at it. And I hate being terrible at things. I really hate being terrible at things. I got an "A" for the class but I had to really bite my tongue and survive through it.

My second encounter with yoga was a couple years ago (as chronicled in this blog). Bikram was way more challenging than the class I took and there was a much more diverse group of people in the class. I decided to tackle it head-on at first going as often as I could to classes. It kicked my ass. If you've never done hot yoga, I highly recommend trying it at least once in life. I loved it at first but it started to turn sour pretty quickly for me.

Yoga is rooted in a very long history. It isn't just exercise, it's mental conditioning. You have to be extremely patient to do yoga regularly. This is why they call it a practice. You never reach perfection. It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. Really. There are no winners. Yoga is not a competitive sport. Except if you are in terrible shape and your weight is a result of your feelings and you feel validated by comparing yourself to other people, yoga pretty much calls you on your shit. You're in a situation that demands you be present in your body and doesn't allow you to talk to anyone Those voices in your head get pretty damn loud and it's your job to learn how to quiet them.Oh yeah, and in the meantime you're just trying your best to get that thigh around your belly fat so you can finally get your weight off your throbbing feet and get yourself into the appropriate pretzel. In tight clothes. Yoga is a complex and very specific practice for these reasons.

So I'd like to think that this time around yoga will stick. I am in serious need of some balance. And it's not just my life. My life will always be stressful and hard. Because I am a stressable person that has a hard time processing my feelings well and yet I still love me an impossible challenge. The more difficult and impossible the better. Except whenever I'm in the throes of one of these challenges I tend to lose my head. Point in case poor Aaron (the band teacher at Lincoln)  had to mop up the mess of my tears yesterday as I was freaking out over not having enough credit hours to renew my teaching license. I really have to stop going ballistic at every rough patch.

The logical thinker in me (what little there is) looks at yoga and says, "This is the answer!" If I can learn mental discipline - something I'm notoriously bad at if you ask my teachers, mentors, family and husband - my love of insane challenges becomes less insane right?

This is my third attempt at going to yoga. This time I'm going to normal classes at 24-hour. No hot yoga. No power yoga. No "so you want to go to the olympics?" yoga. I went to a class on Tuesday followed by an hour of Zumba. My feet hated me. My body hated me the next day. I stopped when I needed to and I jumped back in as soon as I was ready again. I pushed myself without over-doing it. Something I'm trying to learn to do better. It sure felt nice to be sore in all the right places. I'm going again tonight to hopefully work out some of those sore spots.

I want to leave one last thing. April posted this picture on Pinterest and I just keep thinking about it because it's really inspiring.

193lbs; 5’7 size 14 usa, "my weight doesn’t and will not prevent me from doing what i love the most."


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