Monday, September 8, 2008

Morning Exercises

For my birthday, Stacy got me a really cool gift. She signed us up to do a series of yoga classes together. She also got me some comfortable exercise clothes appropriate for flexing and bending and a yoga mat, required equipment for our classes. There is a woman in our community that runs classes at the library once a week. They have a large room downstairs (incidentally, this is where we do our homeschool classes, as well) that we can use before the library opens. When Stacy signed up they told her there were about 6 people signed up at the time, and no men. No big deal. I am used to my "token male" status.

I was actually pretty excited to get started today. I've long been interested in learning more and so has Stacy, plus we have a video of beginning yoga that we've done on occasion. We thought it would be really good to go to a class in person, though, so we can get personal instruction on the poses and learn to do it "right." Being at the library meant the kids could go and hang out while we had class, too. This morning when we got to the library, the street in front and the parking lot were pretty full. The class was full, too. I'm guessing there are 20 or so people in the group. The extra 14 are all women by the way. Still, no big deal.

So, we got started. In the beginning we were told to find our intentions, or reasons for being in the class. OK. Got that. Next she started talking about ahimsa and how we should avoid doing harm, especially to ourselves. I thought it was a good thing to know, but wasn't sure why it was too relevant to me this morning. We went through some seated relaxation poses, Child's Pose, Cat Pose. So far so good. I was feeling pretty relaxed and could tell this was a wonderful way to start the day. Then we got to the Warrior poses. Sounds like a pretty masculine thing. And then I learned why I needed to learn ahimsa.

A little background--over the weekend we and some friends decided to can applesauce. A lot of applesauce. In fact, we picked 4 bushels of apples during the week and turned them into 58 quarts of applesauce. We had a lot of stations, one of which was the shove the cooked apples into the food mill station. The way it was set up it made a lot of sense for me to do all the shoving since I was the tallest one there. It was still a tall enough set-up that I was putting a lot of torque on my shoulder, and I knew I'd feel it today.

So, Warrior poses. Step back with your right foot and press lightly through the heels of both feet. OK. Feel the tension in your legs without causing pain. Got it. Raise your arms above your head and hold them. Uh, what happened?! I looked around and saw all of the women raising their hands straight to the sky, and it looked like it was pretty easy for them. I wanted to rip my right shoulder off and toss it on the ground just to avoid the pain. Ahimsa. Right. I eventually swallowed my pride and rested my hands on my head in the first alternate pose. Warrior Two. Now take a similar stance, and extend your arms out to your sides, parallel to the ground. In case you missed it, 4 bushels of apples, shoved through a food mill. My shoulders kept yelling, "Ahimsa, you idiot! Ahimsa!" My brain couldn't hear it because it was still trying to coordinate my inhalations and exhalations without thinking. Before I knew it, I was getting ready for Warrior Three. My shoulder was quite interested in the painful possibilities this next pose could bring. Step back slightly and balance on your front foot. So far, so good. Let your arms hang forward. (Shoulders: "Ahhhh.") Raise your back foot if you'd like. OK, I'm game. Then the instructor lifted her rear leg to a position parallel to the ground as she made a human T. The token male almost took a face dive. Luckily he caught himself.

After the Warrior poses it was time to do some additional stretching and relaxing poses, eventually getting to Corpse Pose. You can imagine how relaxing that one is. No one wanted to get up afterward. It was an incredibly relaxing experience, but it also has plenty of strengthening and toning properties as well. I'm looking forward to going back next week. Thanks for the great gift, Stacy!

The greatest "of course" moment came after the class. This guy with a camera so big he can only be some sort of newspaper reporter came into the room and asked anyone who didn't mind being in a few pictures to get into yoga position. The library is doing some feature in the Lifestyles section of the local paper and this photographer was there to get pictures of activities going on at the library. He let us know he'd be taking pictures of individuals, too, and Stacy knew exactly what was coming. Who was his first subject? If you guessed "the token male" you would be right, although not necessarily that clever because who else could it have been? In the end it only makes sense: the acupuncturist at the yoga class. Sure, why not?


April (Thorup) Oaks said...

I'm totally impressed. This makes me want to try it. I tried Yoga when I was pregnant by following a video. Maybe I wasn't doing it right because I wasn't relaxed or feeling much.

thanks for posting. I'll have to give it another try.

emily said...

I did yoga once and it was sooo hard.

Mom said...

Great writing. Mary Roach has retired from writing for Reader's Digest. Ever think about applying? Seriously.
I've heard that longevity is related more to flexibility and relaxation than to strength. So, yoga, great idea!

Dr. Mark said...

I think there are a lot of yoga variations out there, some of which are trying to make it a more aerobic, intense workout. It's worth finding someone who subscribes to the original intent of yoga. And Mom, you're right. Longevity is more related to flexibility in the end. Yoga seems to be one of the better exercises to really build flexibility and strength simultaneously while promoting peace and relaxation.

terahreu said...

Great account. Axel likes the idea of yoga, but isn't really built to do so. I kick his can. Maybe it is a woman thing.

Dr. Mark said...

So is "kicking his can" one of your fundamental intentions? ;)

Axel is a big guy. I think that works to his disadvantage since his center of gravity is shifted upward. That's the excuse I'm using anyway.

J Fo said...

If only I could have been a fly on the wall in that class!

Boquinha said...

Hilarious. Mark really is a good sport. He's great at the "token male" thing. I think it's surprising to people that he has no sisters. It's so comfortable and easy.

Vivian, great idea! We oughta look into that.

I love that we're doing this class together!! Seeing the newspaper guy show up just made me laugh. :P I've got a wonderful husband--I love him. :)

Em said...

Thanks for the chuckle. I'm not sure I could do any of those poses.