Stuff I’m Into: Yoga

Last night, the lady next to me in yoga asked if I had been doing yoga for long. I started to say no, but had to stop myself when I began to do mental calculations and was coming up with 2.5 years of yoga-doing.

I started going to yoga class at McCabe Community Center for one very large reason: my job was eating me.

I mean that philosophically and metaphorically, but also almost physically. I was sort of wasting away, and it was getting creepy. Me weight has always fluctuated with seasons and with long-term moods, and I noticed especially in Japan life that the summer usually made me leaner, what with the heat making me eat less and freedom to play more, and the winter made me thicker, what with the basic inability to move freely and desire to eat all the heavy rich things. But. I also observed that the summer made me less lean in happier years. “Fat and happy,” a professor of mine once said.

I started a very stressful job in the summer of 2013, and by the fall I was skinnier than I had ever been. I wasn’t eating enough, and I got the impression that the food I was eating wasn’t really sticking. I’m not sure though, because I didn’t really have time to pay attention to myself. Anxiety made me nauseous in the morning, which made eating breakfast hard. I forced it as best I could, because eating was required for survival, but it became another chore, another thing I had to feel guilty for not having time for. I did it because I had to. I tried to tempt myself with delicious lunches, because I only had a half hour, much of which I spent trying to re-set my classroom between groups of kids. If it wasn’t like addictive-level appetizing, I wouldn’t get to it in the brief window I actually used for eating, and would “save it for later” which just meant it would go home, perhaps to be dinner, perhaps to just keep making the journey until it became inedible.

All that tangent basically to say, I lost weight, but not weight I wanted to lose, and not in a healthy way. Work became this all-consuming thing that  took up all my time and energy, and I finally decided in the winter that I really needed to carve out some kind of time to be in a place paying attention to my body. I didn’t want to do anything intensely cardio because I was under the impression that that was how people lose weight, so running was out. Yoga sounded like just the right kind of peaceful, stretchy, low-intensity solution.

The first time or two, I attended some restorative sessions, which were nice, but which left me craving a little more pushing.

Now I am a semi-regular attendee, and I can do what the instructor is saying as (and occasionally before) she is even saying it, so long as it’s in the part of the class routine that stays relatively the same. I have been able to observe that what she says is true – some days you can do things you couldn’t before, and other days you can’t do something you could before. It all changes.

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Me with a pile of 108 coins in order to count my 108 Sun Salutations last fall.*

 

I attend the class because I really like being walked through moves, told what to do. Barbara describes them in loving detail, which really has helped me to visualize, from the beginning, what the motions should feel like. (Yes I realize I just combined “visualize” and “feel” – but that’s kinda how yoga is for me!)

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Coins to my right are done, those to my left are yet to do.

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107 down. One left.

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Let’s go.

I’d been to a few yoga classes before, and it can be really hit or miss unless you find a teacher whose style really works for you. I went to one in Korea (while visiting a friend over Golden Week) who was amazing, and I tried one in Nashville that just rattled off the names of things so fast I just felt lost and frustrated. I’ve also been to some that were so-so.

The great thing about the internet age is that you can try some from the safety of your own internet! Mandi has recommended Yoga TX, and I have to say, one thing to love about YouTube yoga, no matter what you’re watching, is that you know exactly how long the session will be.

If you live in Nashville, I highly recommend checking out the $3 yoga happening at a community center near you. Or any of the other $3 classes (boot camp, Zumba, etc.). If you don’t live in Nashville, there is probably something near you. If there is nothing near you, you probably have the internet, or how would you be reading this..?

After two years, I still use yoga for the same things that got me into it. I like to spend an hour getting in touch with myself again, breathing deep and feeling around my muscles to see what my body can do that day. One of my favorite parts is the breathing exercise set we do at the start of class, because it looks like nothing but is so much work, and my favorite pose is rag doll.

 

* These are the only photos I have of myself doing yoga because, believe it or not, having a camera in yoga class is not something our teacher does, like ever… the 108 night was a special event. ^_^

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