Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hot Yoga Day 16 of 20!

I went to yoga on Friday afternoon at 4:30.

It was a pleasant class. Not packed to the gills. I didn't push myself to the maximum, but still had the sensation of slight dizziness when I sat up from the final savasana. I wonder if this is just a reaction to relaxing deeply. The sensation passed quickly enough.

I haven't had a headache since day 3 and I don't take any sort of pain killers for muscle soreness anymore. My body is sometimes sore and the soreness shifts around as different parts of my body get stronger.

I think my balance has improved as much because my feet and ankles are stronger as that my mind is stronger. I am determined to be able to do the standing poses without tipping. This hasn't happened yet, although I can now do the opening part of Standing Head to Knee Pose without falling over, which is the standing with one knee locked out and holding the other foot in my hands. The part before, in theory, I would kick my leg straight out in front of me. . .

Last week at some point one of the instructors said that the idea was to use your thigh muscle to hold your leg up, not your interlocked hands. I had only been flexing my leg muscles until I got my hands locked underneath my foot and then letting my leg relax into my hands, which was creating strain in my low back. Doing it correctly doesn't strain anything. Duh.

I'm doing well enough at staying in the moment that I am usually slightly surprised when the balancing poses are over.

The floor poses that are back and spine strengthening are definitely the most difficult (and so the most necessary for me) poses in the class. As I've said before, locust pose is the most difficult:

Looks easy, doesn't it? I'm not sure if there's something I'm not doing correctly, but I can tell you that whatever muscles in my back would pull my legs in this direction are basically non-functional. Weird. I have always been athletic and to discover that there is a part of me that is so weak is a strange experience. I'm looking forward to the day when I can feel that the muscles that make this pose happen are sore and getting stronger. 

And, by the way, if you are not familiar with this pose, the arms on this one are turned so your hands are palms down, pinkies touching and rolled under the body. Elbows should touch - under the body. Oddly, my arms fit perfectly inside my hip bones (yours probably do, too). I remember the second day I put my arms under my body. I thought for sure my shoulders would come out of their sockets and my arms would simply fall off. . . my shoulders are much more flexible now. 

During the last couple of classes I've gotten a much deeper (or would that be higher?) bow pose. Not sure what loosened up - could be my mind - but I can now feel my hip bones pushing on the floor. The idea after that is to roll forward onto my belly button. . . not exactly there yet. 

Funny, looking at this little illustration, I'm not sure that I consciously look up during the pose. Might have to try that, if I remember in the moment.

Another pose that I am just getting started on is Fixed Firm Pose. It looks like this:

If you are thinking, "Good God! That looks like it would kill your knees!" You would be correct. I have good knees. I am one of the lucky few who make it through high school sports and adult soft ball league with my knees intact. And, I have discovered, my knees are pretty tight. I can do the 1st part of this pose where you stick your butt between your feet and sit down - almost. I can also lean back on my elbows, but the 1st part of the pose is to actually sit on the floor. . . I am now playing it safe and working on that since, really, I'm not sitting on the floor. My whole upper body is being held aloft by my not-stretchy knees. Scary. I'll continue to work on sitting on the floor.

One of the huge benefits that I have received since I started this journey is I have a ridiculous amount of energy. Yesterday I volunteered at the CUESA breakfast from 7:30 until 2:00. We ran around and set stuff up, bussed tables, reset the whole thing twice and generally were on our feet the whole time. It was great fun. I came home and went to the beach. Then I stayed up until 11:30 watching movies. In the past, this day would have had a serious nap in it somewhere.

I like this new normal.

I have a decision to make soon. I have to figure out if I'm going to continue this adventure. . . at the regular price. I have to admit that even the least expensive option of $89 per month does not fit into my budget at all. . . and I get that it's worth it. Here in SF a basic gym membership costs about the same.

I get that a yoga practice, established now and continued indefinitely, would serve me well.

I listened to a futurist speak a while back and he said that we can expect to live until well past 100 and we should plan our lives that way. I'm 47. My children's generation - those that eat healthy, anyway - can expect to live to 120. My grandchild's generation (yes, I'm a grandmother) can expect to live to 150.

This yogi, Swami Yogananda, is 99. He travels the world teaching yoga, is learning English and hopes to write a book about yoga. 

Now that's flexible. . . 

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