Adventures in Yoga, Part One

My physical therapist has been not so subtly encouraging me to start going to yoga classes. I already have a number of stretches that I do for PT every other day, but she thinks that yoga will be a helpful addition.

On Monday, I had my first-ever appointment with a physiatrist (we could call her Doctor #9, but I think that since I’m doing so much better, we can dispense with the numbering of doctors, so I’m calling her The Physiatrist). In case you didn’t know (I didn’t), a physiatrist is basically an MD of physical therapy. Her job is to assess where a patient is physically in their problem area(s), and then help the physical therapist determine how to help the patient make progress.

After assessing my situation, The Physiatrist was like, “Yoga. You should do it. Only the slow, stretchy kind – no hot yoga or anything crazy. Cardio is good too. NO PILATES. NO SIT-UPS.” Whoops. I’ve been working on sit-ups for the last week. My bad.

I have a yoga workout DVD. It’s the fast kind. I haven’t done it since seminary, but I do have it rumbling around in the recesses of my mind somewhere. So between that and random moments in Go On (which I just found out has been cancelled; sad, because I thought Matthew Perry really had something there, but ANYWAY…), I thought I knew what to expect from a beginner’s class at the local Y.

Unfortunately for me, no one told the instructor that her class is on the “Classes for Beginning Exercisers” list. Holy smokes, people. This wasn’t mostly slow, lengthening stretches – it was… I don’t know what it was. Insane. It was insane. I’m not going to be able to walk tomorrow. It was like the first day of volleyball practice after a summer of reading lots of books.

But let me tell you the whole story, if you have the time.

Vaguely remembering that some classes are jam-packed and first come, first served, I showed up about 20 minutes early, found the classroom, and parked myself along the wall to wait for other people to show up and tell me what to do. In walks a very spry, fit older woman with a yoga mat. I assume she is a fellow eager classmate, and say, “I’ve never been to this class. Tell me what it’s like.”

As she answers, it gradually dawns on me that she’s the teacher. So I explain to her that I’m coming out of a long illness, that I haven’t done much in a long time, and that I’m there on the recommendation of my physical therapist.

I probably should have listened to the little voice in my head that warned me when she said, “You might want to come to the Easy Yoga class tomorrow at 10:30; I’ll be subbing. That will be basic poses. Tonight, what you’ll be doing will be a little more advanced. [Ha!] I just want to have fun, and for you all to have fun. Just do what you can.” (Note: I knew that class she said would be “Easy Yoga” was also on the “Classes for Beginning Exercisers” list as “Yoga.” So maybe the advertising wasn’t exactly accurate, and maybe I should have added 2 and 2 and come up with 4, but we all know how good I am at math…)

Because I am not scared of looking like a complete moron most of the time, when the room started to fill up, I was willing to move myself and my brand-new yoga mat to the front when no one else seemed to want to join the three brave souls already up there. Probably that was the worst thing I could have done for class morale – who wants one of the “courageous” people up front to wimp out? And I did, believe me.

So we started with the yoga form of John Jacobson’s “Burst” move (around 0:41; not as popular as his “Double Dream Hands,” but apparently more work-out friendly) and a bit of deep breathing, and I’m thinking, “You know what, this isn’t so bad.”

Fast-forward through about 5,000 years, most of which is a blur with black outs throughout because, as I do when I work out for the first time in a while, I kept periodically losing my vision. I kept up okay, but when I couldn’t see for about 10 seconds straight, I gave up and sat for a while.

[At this point in the story, I would like to note that when I got home and showed my sister, who is in way better shape than I am, one of the harder series of moves we did that I was able to do – though not as many times through as everyone else – she said that that was crazy-hard. Thus, I feel a little bit justified about my inability to walk like a normal human being afterwards.]

The teacher, who I should mention is 71 and has a 7-month-old new hip, kept saying things throughout the class like, “Do what your body will let you do” and “Feel free to go get a drink of water if you need to, at any time,” so after I start to be able to see clearly again, I weave through the yoga mats between me and the door, wobbling on jelly legs, and wandered out to the water fountain.

One downside of the classroom we were in (it’s not the class’s normal room) is the lack of a clock, but fortunately there is one in the hallway. Apparently, 5,000 years in Lauren-time is approximately 25 minutes. It’s clear that at least some folks in the class were having their expectations blown out of the water like I had. If I just leave, I could probably singlehandedly tank class morale completely. So I decide to do my best to at least fake keeping up, or just sit there, for the next 30 minutes. And try not to die.

The good news is, I am waaaaaay more flexible than I ever have been before, so I can do impressive things like a low squat for 2 minutes or more. So when everybody else is trying to balance all their weight on the balls of their feet foot while their legs are curled up under them doing some weird bendy thing I can’t imagine being able to understand, I’m squatting. The teacher is all, “Lauren, that’s amazing. I can’t do that.” So I say, “Well, I can’t do what you’re doing.” Even though I’m doing something almost as relaxing as laying down, but I kind of look like I’m at least around the same height as everyone else, and like I’m doing something hard.

Not often I can say that.

The part about the height, I mean.

Right.

Anyway, the 71-year-old marvel likes to introduce some pilates to the end of her classes. I just flat out skip that part, or try really easy variations of it that won’t make The Physiatrist mad. Seriously, I knew it was a huge step to even be there, doing downward facing dog and the child’s pose; all the extra stuff was like getting donuts on your birthday in addition to presents. And I was trying to be a good sport, even though I didn’t like the donuts. [I feel that I should point out here that I do not, in fact, dislike all donuts. Maybe the metaphorical donuts were all glazed. I don’t really like glazed.]

At the very end, we do more stretchy stuff and then some nice breathing exercises, which I am comfortable doing. Once everyone starts to get up and move around, I strike up a conversation with the woman on my left, who had muttered, “I didn’t sign up for pilates” at one point. She’s clearly not new at this, so I ask her which classes to try. Apparently, there is a yoga instructor at our Y who is known for his beginner, easy classes, and one of them is on Fridays. She thinks this guy is great; I think his classes sound like exactly what I am supposed to be trying.

If I can drive by Friday, I will be trying that out. In the meantime, I will be drinking lots of water and taking Advil.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: