Yoga ain't for sissies. It's hard, core and muscle-engaging and not to be looked down upon or taken lightly.
I'm on a yoga retreat at The SeaCrest Beach Hotel in Falmouth with Yoga Moves - Yoga + Wellness for a piece I'm writing for The Daily Basics. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a more personal part of this journey and document my three days here for the article as well as for myself.
I've been wanting to try yoga for a while now, for many reasons - and a whole lot of excuses - I haven't gotten around to it. A few years ago I tried and became addicted to Pilates. The moves, many of them, are based on yoga. Both are about strengthening the core, lengthening limbs and not bulking them out. (I have enough bulk on me, thankyouverymuch.)
For those of you, who like me, don't know much about this form of exercise, it's not all about meditation. There are many of you out there who like myself can't slow down and we seem to use this as an excuse or as a reasoning... "Yoga isn't for me" Or "I'm more of a Pilates girl," which was pretty much my way of thinking. And for me, there's some truth to that. I can never settle down. I fidget. Nonstop. Even in my sleep. My mind never seems to be able to turn off either. Blame this on being a mother, blame this on being a divorced mother, blame this on ADHD. In fact, I can blame it on whatever I want or nothing at all. I've never been able to settle down. Never. It's part of my DNA. Yoga's not for me. I'm not a fan. I can't settle down enough. These were my thoughts. And then I tried yoga. And now I say those were just excuses.
I worried about looking the part - comparing myself to the other women. Those body-shaped insecurities we all have. And then I was reassured when I walked into the room and saw everything. Every body shape imaginable was in the room with me... tall, short, small, large and everything in between. And I was the only newbie in there. And as I followed along I saw that no matter how tall or short or large or small, these women were strong and the strength was beauty. And that's what mattered. I got over myself quickly knowing that if I focused on my every imperfection I would not come to that place of total relaxation.
I had my first very toned down yoga class. We stretched and balanced and used muscles I had forgotten I had. I was not so amazed by my strength - I'm very strong and work out regularly - but I was blown away by my flexibility. I bent in half - flat as a pancake. A few times. I had no idea how limber I was. I think, in order to be that limber one needs to be incredibly relaxed. I don't ever think I've ever been as relaxed as I was yesterday afternoon. I really should have asked what type of yoga we were doing because upon research there are many, many different kids, all slightly different from each other. After 45 minutes of strength and stretch and balance we moved on to a meditative type. From our Warrior poses we went to down on our backs.
We had blankets to place over our bodies or under them as needed. With my neck and back issues I rolled one and placed it under my neck and the other and placed it under my knees. I closed my eyes and relaxed. I was as still as could be but couldn't figure out what to do with my hands until they finally settled on my stomach.
Our instructor, Mary Ellen, spoke. Her voice was soothing. Soon I was off in an almost trans-like state. Completely relaxed. Completely. And if you'll remember that's not something I do often. Scratch that. Ever. It's not something I do ever. Yet there I was, out there, lost in space. Out of mind. Out of body. I listened and hovered around this great grey area that was a state between consciousness and sleep.
We had to start counting backward from 108 all the way to 0. I got stuck at 103. And then I started thinking. Instead of trying to figure out 102 I was stuck on Dunkin' Donuts coffee. There seem to be more Dunkin' Donuts on Cape Cod than people. I was thinking about my morning coffee. I should have been counting 100 or even 99. But I was stuck on the damned coffee. And worried about my morning coffee. Terribly worried about my morning coffee. 95. And there I was distracted by my thoughts and the goddamned coffee and I couldn't find my way to 75 or 50, nevermind 0. I was all about the coffee. The good news was that despite the fact my mind had gone from 0-120 in warp speed I couldn't move. My body was so relaxed it felt like a brick. But I couldn't get my mind back to that peaceful floating in Nowhereland. But one out of two ain't bad. I'll take it for a first timer. I'm excited for my class this morning which starts in about 45 minutes, at 7:30. Bright and early! I'm off to get dressed then hopefully to see the sun rise from the beach which is literally outside my doorstep!
Stay tuned for more later as I'll be participating in 2 yoga classes and a beach meditation today!