Yoga From the Outside


I'm too thick to wrap and lock much of anything. My balance really isn't all that, and these femurs don't lotus very well. You can feel a pulse in your toes if you would just lay down and be quiet for a minute.

These are a few of the things I learned in yoga last week. What? You thought that if I were to take up something new, it would more likely involve rucks, scrums, and other rugby type words than words like vinyasa. So many questions, indeed. And no Yoda jokes, I promise.

Is the point of yoga exercise or relaxation? Is there any chance of a yoga fight like there sometimes is in flag football? Will there be poses and chanting across from the greasy old pony tail guy who forgot Under Armour beneath his shorts?

I was glad this guy from Couple's Retreat didn't show up.

Stretch Yourself

If a PT is going to stretch himself, quite literally, to try something new, it may as well be something really different. In the clinic I often meet up with people who enjoy yoga and proclaim its benefits. So wouldn't it be good to experience it? Not on the youtubes or reading about it in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports PT?

This came up under yoga on Youtube. I don't think Just Plain Yoga is certified in this kind.
And an experience it was. I relearned what it's like to be a complete outsider. That alone was good for me. While the yoga group did have some level of healthy competitiveness, there was no fight. Not even a good roundhouse kick or bitter disagreement over whether someones foot was on the three point line.

I learned that if you'd like more fighting and whining in your exercise regimen, you're better of playing flag football with twenty something guys.

Yoga is supposed to be both exercise and relaxation, but I can tell you that for a somewhat flexible beginner who's willing to give primary series ashtang yoga a hell of an effort, it's a 60-minute, white knuckled grip, total body isometric. Everyone else is flowing gracefully to different positions, holding there for five relaxed diaphragmatic breaths, in an excellent demonstration of this thing that nerdy PT types call controlled mobility.

And the new guy? He's all over the place on his mat, seizing the air inside his lungs for added stability, swiping at wrists, ankles, and toes.

Later I learn that "benefit comes from intelligently regulating the breath and approaching poses mindfully, incorporating the idea of nonviolence." So my vicious attempts at hammering out the positions, just to say I could do some of them (kinda, not really) missed the point.

Though I did love the challenge. What would it mean to arrive in Yoga? Sure, there's value in the journey and stuff, but who doesn't want to be able to bend themself double and squimmer their elbow up into their ear and worgle their ankle and thus disappear? Functionally, of course.

I did feel pretty great afterwards. Loose but alert. Definitely worked but not at all exhausted. No bloody shins from slipping off the (bike) pedals. Not worrying about the free throw I missed with just seconds on the clock. Way cool. Wonder how it would be if I could even do half of the workout with quarter decent form. Hmmm.....

I learned that the instructors and other clients at Just Plain Yoga in Camp Hill were outstanding (not that I have much to go by for comparison). Tina the teacher practices what she preaches and her voice is like clouds rolling over top marshmallows floating on a sea of zero gravity recliner chairs. I learned how important the voice is. Dick Vital or Rachael Ray probably wouldn't make very good yoga instructors.

I felt comfortable with the amount of attention Tina and some of the veterans in the class gave me; not too much or too little. They offered some cues but didn't manually rip my anteverted femurs out of their sockets to "achieve" form. Tina didn't even get mad when I accidentally kicked her in the head while struggling to hold a headstand type move. That was a plus.

There is a definitely a spiritual component to yoga. I mean, just look at what's happening. If that isn't worshipful, what is? I don't think that Jesus is against stretching. If he is I'm in trouble, as a PT who proclaims various mobilizations and stretches to all nations. Christian author Rob Bell expounds on the idea in Judeo-Christian tradition that everything is spiritual, and CS Lewis said that "we are part animal, and what our bodies do affects our minds." We were just a group of pilgrims that evening who gathered together in a twilight lit room for the benefit of our bodies and minds. Nobody pushed anything and it wasn't weird. I truly appreciate that.

The verdict:

I definitely recommend Tina and the crew, and would go to them with questions if they'll have me. I would return as a client too, though probably not soon. Not when I'm still able to run and jump and ride my mountain bike like an idiot. The jangle of a barbell loaded with multiple 45-pound weight plates is just too alluring.
Would regular yoga be good for me? Yes. Absolutely. But the either/or thinking does seem to emerge, especially time-wise. Ask my wife to philosophize on my recreation schedule.
It would still be too painful; I'm not yet ready to let go of something else.
385, 5 X 8

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post!! Funny and inviting without an insincere over-sell.

    Time to go deadlift.