Some thrift stores have colored tag specials on Sunday. I’ve learned it’s best to go early and look at the end of the racks first. I went in with the intention of finding workout clothes.
I have done The Yoga for a few years, off and on. There is still a lot I don’t know or understand. There are a few things I have learned.
What I think of when I say “The Yoga.” But this isn’t yoga, sorry.
Nearly anyone can do yoga, if they really want to try. There’s seated or chair yoga, yoga for senior citizens, pregnant women and kids. I started when I was over 200 pounds, clumsy and terribly self conscious. I was fortunate enough to have a gentle and wonderful teacher who knew what she was doing, allowed us to modify or even skip poses and offered encouragement to everyone. She also told us stories about her cats.
Nobody cares how deep you can bend, how high you can lift your leg or even what you look like during class. No, that’s not absolutely true; some people are judgemental but they are the minority. Most aren’t there to compare themselves to others and those who are will not last very long unless they change their mindset. That’s usually those chicks up front who come to class in $100 yoga pants and makeup
Yoga is physical but it’s mostly mental. Consciously thinking about your breathing is more important than pushing your body harder. There is something incredible that happens when you finish the final pose. Your head is clear and your mind is charged and refreshed. It’s probably the extra oxygen. I’ve felt better after a walk but it doesn’t compare to the combination of calm and energy after yoga.
Yoga will change your body. You may be lucky enough to lose weight but you won’t get a yoga body like on Pinterest. Unless you are built that way. It’s not going to change your height, bone structure or body type. You will look and feel better, and be more toned over time but you won’t look like a ballerina if you have an Elmer Fudd body. I know this from bitter experience.
Speaking of body, yours may do something embarrassing. You might, you will pass gas. It may happen in a crowded class that is silent except for the sound of breathing. Because your body is feeling loose and there’s movement in your breath your body will feel relaxed and comfortable enough to let go a little. If it happens in that crowded class keep going. No one will speak up, class will go on, you will live and if it is really crowded it is possible that no one will know it was you. I’ve been in classes where someone passed gas, it was no big deal and as for who dealt it, I’m going to plead the Fifth. If you feel you are going to fart it’s best to let it go instead of holding it in, you will feel better. Holding it in restricts your moving, is uncomfortable and you may cramp. Also it’s a good idea to go to the bathroom before class. You don’t want to have to run in between rows of people on your way out of the room just because your bladder can’t wait. I know this from bitter experience.
You don’t have to become a Hindu or Buddhist to do yoga. There are different types of yoga and it does include philosophy and religion but it doesn’t demand you change your beliefs. Even atheists can do yoga. Most yoga classes and videos I’ve seen are about breath, movement and concentrating on how your body feels.
Some people will throw around the Sanskrit names for poses (asanas, as you’ll hear). Some people know a lot about chakras and other aspects. A lot don’t, if they are honest. You don’t have to know this unless you really want to delve into it. I just follow the teacher. Most will give the English names such as chair pose, child’s pose and lizard. You will recognize them after awhile and not think much about it.
One of my facebook friends posted a picture of a sign outside a yoga studio that said something along the lines of “we are our own heroes.” Much eye-rolling and snark followed. Getting up and going to yoga class when you really don’t feel it or would rather sleep in is not heroic. It is discipline. Ironically yoga humbles me rather than exalts me. I am aware of my strengths but of my limitations as well. If I start feeling smug I will lose my balance or feel my t-shirt slide up.
I am old, but I don’t feel it. At least not until it’s pointed out to me. Today I had a mammogram. There’s a sentence that makes women, usually Of a Certain Age, make a face. Besides the squishing of my breasts, I had a flu shot and for the first time colonoscopy was brought up. Because I am at that magic age where it’s believed old age starts to settle in and slowly take over.
I talked to my friend Lucy s mom on Saturday. We were at a funeral for another friend’s mom and waiting. Lucy’s mom said something I can’t forget. She said she once thought 60 was the youth of old age but now sees 60 as the old age of youth, when everything starts to go. As she is in her 80’s I imagine she knows what she’s talking about. One of her daughters is turning 60 next year and the realization made her sigh. Incidentally Lucy’s mom is still going and doing and having a life though it’s taking more time and effort now. She said she’s going to funerals for her contemporaries more and more.
Instead of depressing me it cheered me a little, since this means I’m still young, relatively speaking. It also means I’ve probably got another good ten years or so left. I hope to still be doing yoga and 5Ks. I don’t plan to have gray hair either.
It amuses me to see people in their 20’s with dyed gray or silver hair. Some look good. I think they will be dyeing their hair like me when they are my age and gray will not be so appealing then.
Which is about the only thing I can do. The job search is discouraging, though I had an interview with a temp agency today I am not expecting much. I feel frustrated and a little embarrassed, humbled. I’m living at my sister’s and dipping into the money I set aside for moving. I’ve been trying to walk more, to go to yoga and keep moving in at least one way. But I don’t do as much as I can or should.
Yoga is the one thing that makes me feel alive. I have to drag myself there most of the time but once class begins I forget about what is bothering me, for one hour I don’t feel like a failure or a loser. Even when my balance is wonky or I struggle I am only concerned with what is happening in this room and in this moment. The most important thing I can do is breathe. Focus on your breath, one of my teachers tells us. Breathe slowly and deeply, hold it for a moment then release it, slowly. Do not hurry, do not force your body to do anything that hurts, but if you want to go deeper you can. Everybody’s practice is different.
By the end of the hour I’m sweaty and my body feels lighter, looser, stronger. I’m usually thirsty and a little hungry too, but I feel better, mentally as well as physically. A friend told me it’s the oxygen that gives me clarity. I don’t want to analyze it or explain, in my opinion that defeats the purpose. It just is.
I don’t want to say yoga saves my life but it might save my sanity. I’ve been anxious about being unemployed, I had thought I’d have a job and be in Seattle by now. Now I worry that it won’t happen and I should accept that I’m just stuck here, find a job and suck it up. But finding a job here might not be easy either and I don’t know how long it will take, how long I will be at my sister’s house, how long I’ll have to pay storage fees for my crap. I feel useless, most days I try to find something to do besides watching TV. Daytime TV is a great motivator for finding a job too. I found myself going Mystery Science Theater 3000 on soap operas and judge shows.
I want to go to yoga more often but I can’t afford too many classes and have to pace myself. It’s hard to justify spending the money when I’m not working and need to keep my expenses low. But when I do it is worth the effort and cost.
Yoga has given me a goal, something I might actually be able to do. I want to do Bird of Paradise pose. I attempted it in class tonight and I looked more like Road Kill. With patience, practice and luck I should be able to do it.