The road to recovery
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…
Pain is weakness leaving the body… Just do it, then do more…
As a reluctant athlete, I’ve heard it all. Each has its place in motivation, but none really works for the reluctant athlete, the overweight, the under-exercised, and over-caloried. We’re more prone to open a bottle of good Petite Syrah and cut into a cheese wheel.
Exercise has been a big part of my adult life until about 12 years ago, when I just stopped. Something had to go in my work, parenting, grad school schedule, and I picked exercise. Slowly, from hot MILF material, I became a bloated, thunder thigh’d, muffin-topped, giant breasted brood sow barreling down on menopause, and cheese fries.
Well, not so much the cheese fries, but my vegetarian diet turned into too much of a carb fest for my tiny under-exercised frame, and I got fat. Fat isn’t really happy for me. Along with that, my SLE lupus went haywire.
At 52 and being 45 pounds overweight, having an illness that corn-holes my joints, muscles and connective tissue, it’s easy to be discouraged. But I am not dead yet. And I am not going to accept defeat. Instead, I am embracing yoga. Yoga is Yes Yes! Win Win! All balance and acceptance. There is no berating the body in yoga. This is a healthy philosophy to embrace. As there is no I in team, there is also no judgment in yoga. (I still think Kristen Chenowith needs a cheeseburger.)
I regret going so far out of shape, but now that I have found yoga, I reframe this state as an opportunity to embrace a new normal.
But what yoga? The last time I was fit enough to find a class, say 30 pounds ago, I went to Bikram Yoga. Bikram uses a set amount of poses and it’s done in a hot room. Just staying in the 106 degree room for a class is a huge accomplishment. Being menopausal, hot and cranky, and after checking out my heart rate, I have put off Bikram until I am fitter and stronger. Instead I chose Restorative, Yin, Hatha and Vinyasa yoga.
I know, it sounds like a new language. First, Yoga is an ancient practice from India that incorporates strength, breath, mind, body, balance and self -awareness. Here’s a quick rundown of what I get out of each class.
Restorative Yoga is a slow, mellow class that incorporates blocks, bolsters, straps and blankets to get into a position for a pose. The lights are dimmed, music is lush, and the poses are held for a while. My body feels invigorated by the practice and although it’s mellow and slow, I do feel stronger and better after a class.
Yin is similar to restorative yoga, but the class is based in “yin” energy. It’s very peaceful and moves bones and deep connective tissue. I love it.
Hatha is really rooted in the breath and in meditation. I imagine it is what the yogis did in India with ringing bells on beautiful carpets. It’s also a slower class with lots of direct instruction. The poses are deeply explored and the mind must work to stay with it. Mentally and spiritually, I feel like I get a lot from the class, but the restorative yoga and Ananda are more spiritual.
Ananda is slow, but not as slow as Yin, Hatha or Restorative. Each pose is paired with affirmations of strength, love, peace and wholeness. If I was still a school teacher, I would go to that class just to keep my heart open from the beat-down teachers get on a daily basis. In fact, if I could have three fairy wishes, the first wish would be free Ananda yoga for the world. All the clocks would stop at three, and like a call to prayer, people would gather in yoga pants, stretching and giving thanks, going deep into their breath and poses of strength while meditating on the positive affirmations of Ananda yoga. Truly, Ananda is such a peaceful, healing practice it could heal the country. That is if the religious fundies would relax a little and try the unknown without labeling it all as from “Satan.” Maybe my second wish would be no religion. But I digress.
I haven’t tried Yoga Pump or Rock and Flow Yoga, I am waiting to get a little stronger first. I am ready for Vinyasa yoga. Vinyasa is a form found just about anywhere. It’s more active and each pose flows into the next. I have a feeling my Down Dog and Walk The Dog might not flow fast enough with my Sphinx pose. Also, most of the yoga forms I mentioned are done on a mat with bolsters and supports. Vinyasa moves from standing poses to mat poses and back and forth. Inhalation is timed with movement and exhalations are timed with release. I think I have that down now after doing the various classes plus my Tai Chi. I’m going to Vinyasa tomorrow.
On the road to recovery, I have lost 10 pounds. I am feeling stronger every day. My next step is keeping these classes going and adding “C25K”. I’m starting the Couch to 5K tomorrow. I have the shoes, the heart monitor, the app downloaded on my phone and a race goal. I signed up for the 2015 Hot Chocolate Run on Jan. 11 at Golden Gate Park. Yes, there is chocolate. I’m sold!
Please feel free to ask me questions, comment or cheer me on. Should I post pictures? Let me know.