,Although I often say that taking care of oneself is a public service, I have great difficulty finding time for me in my schedule. This past Sunday, after a long hiatus, I returned to my hot yoga practice. I did two classes back-to-back: Barre Boot Camp and Soulful Sunday Flow. The titles might lead one to believe that the boot camp class was more sweat inducing, but it was the steady, focused movements and intentional, slow, breathing required by the Soulful Sunday class, that produced mini-puddles on my yoga mat. At one point, I looked at my shoulder and I was glistening. It was as if I had emerged from a pool. My afro had shrunk from the moisture. It was a true hot yoga class and it was much needed.
I had regressed tremendously and it was difficult to accept that I was struggling. When the movements became too hard or too painful, I focused on steadying my breath. I listened to myself. I allowed myself to reset into child's pose and start again. I kept moving. I had already experienced the pain of being sedentary for way too long. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my doctor is not interested in hearing about my aches and pains, because she is convinced that regular exercise is the solution. For the most part, I agree. When I regularly attended class 2-3 days a week, I was more mindful of my dietary habits. I loss weight. I slept better and was in less pain. I was more agile and energetic, and I was more disciplined in other areas of my life. My colleagues even noticed the changes and compliments abounded. I had found a very effective and very expensive habit.
Why did I stop? It was not the money, for I still had space on my 25-class pass! I was ill. I caught the flu in March and, since then, I have had some respiratory ailment ever since. Over the last few months, I have grown to appreciate the gift of breathing as never before, despite having had loved ones die from chronic respiratory disease. I did not see how I could go to any group exercise class in my condition. A lot of modern medication has flowed through my system this year, and I really need to detox. I am better, but I still have trouble breathing. This week, I am going to try halotherapy, because I am a secret hippie willing to try almost anything. My breathing crisis, however, is not what led me to write this post.
During class on Sunday, we were doing a pigeon pose that involved using a strap to pull the foot in the back, forward. While trying to find a picture of what we had done, I instead found this video tutorial of Kapotasana, a pose we definitely did not do. Watching it cracked me up. If I am ever able to do Kapotasana, know that my body has been through a revolution. The video below, more accurately describes what we did - just with straps to pull the back foot as close to our backs as possible. I was not ready for the full back-bend, as depicted below.
As were practicing this pose, the instructor told us to make sure not to slouch forward and downward, but to focused upward, and to keep our bodies in alignment before, intentionally, bending it backward. I noticed that I was not simply slouched forward while trying to yank my foot into my back, I was quite comfortably slouched and settled into an easy position that would, undoubtedly, erase all of the benefits I had received from the class up to that point. I was embracing pain rather than possibility and I was at ease in that pain. I am a good student, so I quickly realigned my hips, spine, and head so that I was sitting up straight with one leg bent in front of me and one leg awaiting to be properly pulled in the back. This time, the pose was a world of difference, because I was doing it correctly. It was like a good massage, that hurts as it heals. That exercise, made me think about all of the times, I have settled into pain, nervousness, and fear, rather than set myself up to face the challenges ahead. My go-to stress food, Kettle Brand Jalapeno Chips, came to mind. When I am stressed, I can easily eat two bags in one sitting. They taste so good, but they do nothing to give me clarity. I usually do not sit in the slouching space for too long, but that act is , nevertheless, wasted time, doing things that will not help.
Preparing myself to do be better prepared to do the seemingly impossible, is an admission that the end of my objectives are no where in sight. My vision and rejection of stagnation will have to provide enough motivation. Sunday's class, encouraged me to stay focused on what I want, and to align my life in that direction, even if it is uncomfortable, even if it requires Kapotasana.
What does slouching look like in your life right now?
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