Wake Up, Its Yoga Time

Thursday, March 29, 2012
I first tried yoga back in the late 90s.  The all women’s gym my roommate and I went to offered free classes with our membership so we figured why not.   We giggled our way through that first class and strained to be even the slightest bit flexible.  It was difficult but I loved it.  And my body loved it too!  At the end of each class, we lay on the floor, relaxing, calming our minds and bodies.  I’m not embarrassed to admit that I came darned close to falling asleep each and every time.  And I wasn’t the only one.  I remember hearing a woman snoring at the end of one of the classes.  

Nirvana by Herodoto (Flickr)
Pretty soon, the popularity of yoga exploded and we had trouble finding room on the floor to throw down our mats so we stopped going.  I bought a couple of VHS tapes but didn’t keep up with them regularly.  There was something about taking part in the class and feeling encouraged and challenged by those around me that you just don’t get from a tape/DVD.  I quickly lost interest.  Every couple of years, I’d get the urge to try again and I’d buy a new DVD, use it a couple of times and then stuff it on the shelf to collect dust bunnies. And then two years ago, I finally decided to join a class again.

There’s a yoga studio just up the hill from my house and offered classes on the weekend.  I was desperate for some new activity to add to my treadmill/stationary bike/elliptical routine at the time so I signed up.  I didn’t know the difference between the different types of yoga other than there’s now “hot yoga” which seemed a bit extreme.  I took the suggestion of the lady who answered my email and registered for Ashtanga Yoga.  Wrong class.  It was too tough, I certainly wasn’t limber enough, and despite being very proud of myself after the first class, I fell far behind the other people quickly and gave up after three classes. 

Recently, I’ve started trying to run again (yes, I know…).  Its going VERY slowly which I think is better for me at this time than trying to keep up with a group which advances in their training each week even if you’re not ready.  Unfortunately, the running (along with my power walking while watching X-Files) has really re-enforced something I already knew.  My leg muscles are very tight.  Actually, I think “tight” is an understatement.  I’ve never been very “bendy” but after choosing to run the other day (against my better judgment), my legs revolted.  I took two days off from even walking on my treadmill because my legs were saying “I don’t think so Missy!”  I try to stretch after most runs/walks but often I’m too tired and it takes everything I can to tumble into the shower.  However, my “stretching” routine consists of three simple, not overly effective, moves and at times I wonder if I’m making things worse rather than better. 

So, I decided to do something about it.  Not wanting to waste my money on another class I won’t complete, I found myself a copy of Rodney Yee’s AM/PM Yoga.  This was the first yoga tape I had ever purchased so I knew already what I was getting into.  I remember enjoying the short 20 minute morning video and figured this would be perfect for stretching out some of my muscles and getting things going first thing in the morning.  Plus, its only 20 minutes.  Who can’t spare 20 minutes?  I whipped out my yoga mat, shook off the inch of dust that had accumulated and unrolled it on the floor. 
Halasana by Gosia Janik (Flickr)

Have you ever tried to do yoga in a room where three cats are sleeping?

As soon as I lay down to begin the breathing portion, I felt a fluffy tail swirling around my feet.  Then a cold wet nose on my cheek.  Finish it off with the sound of the third cat clawing my almost brand new yoga mat, and I started to giggle uncontrollably.  Seriously?  You were all sound asleep 30 seconds ago and now suddenly, I’m a playtoy.  Thankfully they soon lost interest.

The AM Yoga is fairly simple and easy, although he moves quickly into each position without much warning.  Having said that, it was only a couple of moves in when I realized just how tight my muscles REALLY are.  OMG.  I moved about an inch into one stretch and my thigh practically bitch-slapped me.  I’m surprised the cats didn’t come running when they heard my muscles scream “STOP!”  Wow.  I have learned, very quickly, that I need to stretch more, proper stretching, in all directions, and using all my muscles.  

It’s now five hours later and my legs feel pretty darned good (I made sure to only stretch as far as I could without causing agonizing pain).  Definitely more relaxed than they were when I woke up this morning.  Sure, they’re not loose and limber but I made a start.  I’m going to run/walk tonight after work and it’s my hope that the looser my muscles become with the yoga, the more improvement I’ll see in my attempts to run.  Heck, even if I just continue to walk, this is going to be a big help.  The almost instant results I feel after just those measly 20 minutes made me feel great overall. I was sweating, my heart rate was up, and I could feel the tension and knots untwisting with each passing minute.  

I’m converted…again.

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