Tag Archives: yoga

It was a Slow Day

We’ve had 3 nor’eatahs here in Boston in the last several weeks, and we’re all kind of over it. Yes, we are tough and can take it. And yes, the time of the old, tough, reticient, New Englander is past. New Englanders 2.0 are tough, and we are also crabby, loud, and proud of it. So yeah, 3 storms in March are going to produce a lot of bellyaching — deal with it.

At least that’s how I was feeling. December’s sub-zero wind chills had sucker-punched me right out of the winter gate, and I never really recovered. So, to drag me through January and February, toss in a couple of 60-degree days just to be an asshat, and then lob at me 3 storms with snow, well, that is just poor manners. And while I know better than to sit up like an expectant puppy waiting for spring to come in March, 3 storms? Seriously? With a 4th and 5th on the way? What is this a freakin’ a Catholic family?

So that was the mind set I rolled into yoga class with on Sunday. But I’ve been at it for awhile, so I worked to stay in my body, stay in the moment, and do the poses as best as I could. But one by one the class, which is usually pretty good at pushing ourselves and going along when Patrice gives us the next harder move to try, started to poop out. The young man who usually can power through just about anything collapsed into child’s pose after three-legged dog pose. Another woman struggled with a relative easy pose, and when Patrice asked if her shoulder was bothering her, she just said it was the overall effort that was getting to her. And that’s when the class underwent a subtle shift as we all exhaled with relief at it being named. She added, “It’s a slow day.” Nods and silent agreement.

And being the rock star teacher that she is, Patrice shifted the class, just like that. We’d been doing upside down poses, so instead we sat and held quieter poses longer, just sitting with our slow day. Savasana, when you lay down at the end, came with blankets on our bodies and sandbags on our foreheads (sounds weird, feels great) and lasted longer than usual.

And that was it. It wasn’t a day to fight nature, winter, yoga, myself, or anything else. It was a slow day that got better by just. Being. Slow.

Photo credit: Marije Paternotte yoga.

 

 

 

 

Now I’ve Gone and Stepped in It

After much reviewing of the facts, I have been forced to reach the conclusion that I may not be the graceful, smooth-walking woman I thought I was. Recently I was strolling with a friend on the sidewalk. I was in mid-sentence and suddenly I just went down. I didn’t get hurt and there didn’t seem to be any depression in the sidewalk that could have caused it. I wasn’t drunk, either — well, no more than usual. Yet, I fell full-on down like a cartoon character in an open manhole cover. But I’m also a cool cat, so I shook it off and we continued on our way. It wasn’t until later when I was on the train, feeling lightly smug that I had recovered so gracefully, that I notice the prominent trickle of bright red blood running from my knee down my leg. yeah, real cool there, girlie.

A few days later I was attempting to get out of a rowboat onto a dock. I grew up doing this. It was not my first time in a boat by a dock. Yet, as I got half way out, I fell back into the boat. The padding of the life-preserver jacket cushioned me so I didn’t get hurt at all. And I made it out on the second try. I do apologize to middle-aged women everywhere — lord knows what conclusions were reached about us by the 20-something trying to help me. But the worse thing was that I knew as I was stepping out of the boat, that it was ill-fated. But did I stop to reposition myself? No, I just kept going and fell back into the boat like a dork.

This summer I stepped out of the canoe into mucky mud that went near nearly up to my knee. Yes, the river was lower than usual because of the lack of rain and that exposed more mud as a result. But who expects it to be 3 feet deep? Apparently my friend who was with me because he asked, “Didn’t you think to test it first?” No, why would I do that? How can mud be 3 feet deep? As I was stuck, one foot held fast in the mud and the other still in the boat, it flashed in my brain that it might be a kind of quicksand, and I was going to get sucked in and killed, Hollywood-style. Of course I just Googled that, and it’s not true. You actually only sink about halfway, just enough to look non-life-threateningly ridiculous. I struggled for a few minutes and managed to lift out my foot, but I had to stick my hand in the muck to fish out my sandals. Nothing says graceful like being covered in mucky mud.

It feels like these incidents just started, so I was all ready to heave this annoyance on to the perimenopause-hormones blame heap. However, I have to grudgingly admit that this is not my first time at the klutzy rodeo. There was the infamous college incident when I walked into a pole — OK, there may have been some alcohol involved, but my friends will tell you that’s no excuse. I’ve clocked guys’ teeth going in for a kiss. I fell out of a canoe that was pulled up near the edge of the river and not moving, and I still can’t explain why. I fell off my bike, once. I think it was caused more by my indecision on how to avoid a collision, but I think that still qualifies. Smooth-moving people know what to do in a near-collision. Finally, if you gather my friends from high school, they could probably regale you with additional examples, which have blessedly fallen out of my memory. At least that I can thank/blame on middle-age.

The thing is over the last 5 years or so, I’ve worked hard to be a mindful, meditative person. And when it comes to my emotions and dealing with most of my relationships, I think I am fairly successful at it. But I have to admit, the mindfulness has not extended to my physical body. This is kind of a blow to my ego — you know, the little bit of ego left after all my awesome mindfulness and meditation. I do yoga, for crying out loud! But I have to admit I think I’m only mindful in yoga class or when I’m standing absolutely still, which is only a small portion of any given day that I’m on this planet. Once I actually start moving, I’m tripping randomly, falling out of boats, walking into poles. I can’t predict what’s going to happen to me next, so this is just a friendly warning. When I next see you, you can probably tell me just about anything and I will verbally respond mindfully, but you might want to make sure I’m sitting and stay back a few feet.

 

 

The Key to My Lazy Mid-Life Miracle Weight Loss Program: Yoga

Back in June I posted a blog about dieting tips for the lazy in mid-life; for example eating the same thing for days frees you from having to think about calorie counting and food prep. Dieting five days instead of seven also takes less exertion. I could go on and on, but suffice to say that since then I have lost 12 pounds, count ‘em 12, in 6

..months! I actually may have lost 14 pounds, but to be honest, when I got on the scale that fateful day and my perimenopausal mid-drift roll was big enough to rest a cell phone on, I blacked out a bit looking down at the blinking number on the scale. It was somewhere above my pregnancy weight, which any ex-pregnant woman will tell you is not a place you want to revisit without a baby being involved.

But back to my Lazy Mid-Life Miracle Weight Loss Program; I believe I have discovered an entirely new approach to weight loss. Let’s face it, the market for losing weight fast is totally saturated. The middle ground dieting market is practical and based on sound medical advice, which is why no one pays attention to it. If we were practical and medically sound eaters, we wouldn’t have a weight problem in the first place. So what’s left? Lazy dieting! Dieting so slowly, anyone can do it!

I don’t want my Lazy Miracle Weigh Loss Program to sound like a scam, so I will disclose the one downside: I lost the weight so gradually, no one noticed. True, that meant I was hiding my previous weight gain very well—I’m the queen of elastic waist band work pants and slightly tailored, yet roomy tops. I could feel my clothes getting looser, and at first that was good enough. I didn’t mind people not noticing. I mean the first five pounds hardly count: I can gain and lose that around my period. But, 12 pounds (perhaps 14, pending hypnosis memory recovery) should solicit some kind of comment. I started thinking about how to work my weight loss casually into a conversation. By this time my yoga teacher had returned from taking the summer off (read about those summer misadventures in my post I’m the Jerry Seinfeld of Yoga). At yoga, I wear loose-fitting tops, which hide a multitude of sins, but yoga pants are the Catholic confessional of clothing. Forgive me father, for I have eaten!

I would like to say the yoga class enlightened me and I transcended these mundane thoughts and made peace with my best-kept secret weight loss, but you should know me better than that. Lucky for me, my teacher is the perfect combination of yogi with a real woman edge—she’s encouraged us by saying how the pose will help us look good for swimsuit season. As we were setting up, she said, “Wow, you look great! What have you been doing?” With a big Namaste smile, I answered, “Practically nothing!”

So my final tip for lazy dieters is don’t forget to go to yoga class. Some of the poses are great for swimsuit season.

I am the Jerry Seinfeld of Yoga

This week I was doing cat-cow pose in my new summer yoga class and feeling annoyed as the teacher’s voice faded at the end of each sentence.

“Breathe in and do … “ She’s dropped her voice to a whisper, and I think she said “cow pose,” because everyone is doing it, but I can barely hear her.

“Breathe out and arch your …”  She whispers “back” and then the rest—presumably she’s saying “into cat pose”—fades into silence.

It wasn’t until I was telling my coworker about it and she said, “Oh that sounds so relaxing,” that I suddenly realized, “Oh my god! I’m the Jerry Seinfeld of yoga!”

I had just seen the episode where Jerry breaks up with a woman because she eats her peas one at a time. And here I was a day later, crabby because the teacher was being relaxing at a yoga class. Or, was she being a fade-talker?

In my defense, I am a perfectly nice yoga student from September to June because I have a great yoga set up—a good Iyengar teacher who is irreverent and challenges me and a weekly class close to my house at a time that fits my schedule. She takes summers off to recharge, and I commend her for listening to what she needs. However, this seems to turn me into Jerry Seinfeld. As I scour the web for Boston yoga classes, things get dicey. You might be thinking, are you nuts? There are hundreds, perhaps 1000s of yoga classes in the Boston area alone. Yes, this is true, and it is also true that there are 1000s of women to date in New York City. Like Jerry, I have a long list of requirements that need to be met before I can even consider a date/class.

  1. I prefer Iyengar style yoga, and there is precious little of it in Boston. Go ahead and do a search. There is hot yoga, flow yoga, and lots of yoga that’s a blend of hot, hatha and flow. I don’t like sweating and slipping around on my mat, and flow makes me anxious. If I wanted to move around quickly, I would go jogging. I’m trying to slow down my body and quiet my mind, which I can’t do when I’m frantically going from down dog, to plank, to up dog, always a half beat behind all the other people who know the routine much better that I do.
  2. I have about 5 time slots available to do yoga. Some of the reasons for my restricted availability are real, such as I prefer to go when my son is with his dad on certain evenings and on the weekend. Some of the reasons are really just me being a princess, such as I’m not getting up at 9 am on a Saturday to do yoga. I love yoga; Saturday at 9 is not gonna happen.
  3. If the day/ time is right, then location becomes the next hurdle. A 5:30 class on a week night I can go is great, until I realize it will take me 40 minutes on the T to get there from work.

What happens when I find these select few classes? Apparently I turn into Jerry Seinfeld. For your consideration, I present this evidence:

Jerry broke up with a woman for having “man hands.” All my early yoga teachers were women, so I didn’t take a class with a man teacher until one of these fateful summers. I didn’t really think about it at the time. All teachers tend to gravitate toward the poses they like best, and at some point I know my favorite poses will intersect with theirs. Until I took the class with a man teacher. I was panting about 20 minutes in. Why? He was doing all upper body strength poses, because guys are great at those. It felt like an Olympic gymnastics practice. When I’m being kind, I tell myself that my upper body is an opportunity to practice increasing my strength. When I’m being myself, I curse out my arms while I struggle to open up a jar of pickles. Flexibility poses, my personal strength, were nowhere in sight. I hear you yelling, “Not all male teachers do that!” At the time I agreed, so I took a class with a different man. Yeah, same thing. Two strong apples can spoil the whole bunch. Jerry wouldn’t put up with “man yoga hands,” and neither will I.

Jerry broke up with a woman for not giving him a massage. I stopped going to a yoga class because there was massage involved. I was already on the verge of breaking up with the teacher for reading really bad New Age poetry while we held poses for a number of minutes. Believe me, it’s hard enough to hold a pose without your brain screaming out, “That’s cliché!” “Wrong use of that adjective!” “The horror, the rhyming horror!” Call it an occupational hazard of being a writer, but it was brutal. She only did that once a month, so I learned to skip those classes. But then she had a substitute.

I assumed the substitute would be a yoga teacher—how very silly of me. As I was getting settled on my mat, the substitute announced she was not a yoga teacher. If I were really like Jerry, I would have left right then and I would have been right. But I am basically an optimistic person (or delusional as the occasion warrants) and thought, “Well maybe she will just call out a list of poses for us to do.” Yeah, and Jerry Seinfeld will choose a woman over a funny voice. Then she brought out the tennis balls. Now I was concerned. I couldn’t think of one yoga pose that could involve tennis balls, even as a prop. “Let me show you what to do,” she said, as she proceeded to sit on all of her tennis balls, roll around on them, and say how good it felt. I have a fair amount of butt real estate, and I am OK with sticking it up in the air for down dog or for a forward bend. But that’s because everyone else is doing the same thing, so no one is actually looking at my butt. But I was not about to stick balls under my butt and roll around, letting them disappear under my ampleness, nor look at others doing the same. I truthfully claimed I had an upset stomach and left that class and continued my hunt. At least classes that didn’t have bad poetry or tennis balls now had a fighting chance to get on my list.

Jerry broke up with a woman for being too much like him. One summer, I found a class near my house, on the right day and at the right time. It wasn’t an Iyengar class, but it also wasn’t hot or flow, so it was worth checking out. The space was nice and the teacher chatted a bit before class. When we were all settled in, she put on music. Then she unfolded a piece of paper. With the sequence of poses on it. I never had a teacher do that before, and my very first teacher was still in training. I was part of her first guinea pig practice class, so she actually could have had a cheat sheet. So what’s wrong with it? It’s what I would have to do because I can’t keep much in my head these days, never mind a sequence of 20 or more poses over the course of an hour and half. When she had to pause in the middle of the class to consult it, I realized I wasn’t coming back. I go to yoga to confront the part of myself I’m OK with confronting—my can’t-open-a-pickle-jar- arms, my core that could use more “practice” to increase its strength, and getting my brain to stop spinning. Seeing a reminder that I can’t remember diddly squat? Not so much.

And there you have it, my dirty little secret. I’m the Jerry Seinfeld of yoga. Only about five more weeks to go until my teacher gets back, and I can say in a silly voice, “Hellooo, La La Laaa.”

Photo credit: Thanks to the the Date Report for the photo and listing of 23 of the reasons Jerry broke up with his girlfriends. Check them out!