A Yogi I am Not

I am now done with my 30 day unlimited pass at Radiance Yoga in Old Town. I went to six different types of classes. I can now say for certain that yoga is not my thing.

Right out of the gate, I hurt my shoulder. I have compromised shoulders that easily develop impingements. A year ago I was in physical therapy for nearly three months because it got so bad that I could no longer reach around my back to unhook my bra. Really, I should have seen a professional before that, but I am fairly stubborn. I have been very careful and was taught how to lift without aggravating it, so I was surprised when after just two yoga sessions I was feeling the familiar can’t-lift-my-arm-like-that pain. I think it was those damn downward facing dog things. The rest of the yoga classes I went to were all “gentle” and “restorative” ones.

I enjoyed parts of the classes, but only parts of them. Often I found myself thinking “is this going to be over soon” or “how much more ’til I’m done?” I know that trying to calm or redirect a wandering mind is supposed to be part of the experience, but this was much more than just that. I just was not enjoying myself. There were two distinct times that I did enjoy it and both times involved the instructor actually touching me. One time she physically assisted a stretch and the other time was during the ending shavasana when the instructor firmly pressed on each person’s shoulders and scalp.

But there is another kind of yoga that I do like. The official name of it is Let Your Yoga Dance, but a better name might be Meditation in Motion or Sacred Heart Movement. For me it is more like a dance class with its theory rooted in yoga. There are some poses, a little bit of chakra work, but most of it is a combination of guided dance and free dance. My friend Cheryl teaches it once a month at a church space and the cost is simply a donation to the church’s food pantry. Can’t beat that! If you are local to me, you really should try it – second Monday of the month at 7:30 p.m. While I have a background in dance, you absolutely don’t need one. You just need a free spirit and a desire to move with the music. I have gotten some of my best ever aerobic workouts here and it’s effortless because it is so enjoyable. I do love to dance – in a class, at a club, in my living room!

So yoga is out. Dance is in. I need to find more ways to dance this year.

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Weights: Not Just for the Guys

I am a weightlifter. In fact, of all the exercise I have ever done in my life (other than dance) lifting is not only my favorite, but the one I return to time and time again. I’ve tried other things over the years – Jazzercise, swimming laps, aerobics classes, yoga, Zumba, running, cardio machines a the gym – none of them get repeated over the long haul. I started lifting just out of college. I had access to a gym and time to kill. I had no idea what I was doing, but I liked it anyway. Since then, I have returned again and again to lifting when I endeavor to exercise.

I am now working out at the seventh gym I have ever belonged to.  I have belonged to gyms associated with my workplace, ones just for women (can you believe that was a thing?!), super posh ones, and military ones.  Right now, Planet Fitness meets my financial needs (cheap!) and has plenty for me to do even though I know it is a bare bones gym. When I started, I wanted to lose weight and decided that although I preferred to lift, I would make an effort to spend time on the cardio machines instead. That failed miserably. Not only did I not lose weight, I ended up not liking even going to the gym. I have never once experienced what people call a “runner’s high” – that endorphin release that comes from exercising really hard; or even a general upbeat feeling after a good sweat session. I wish I did, it would make exercising so much more appealing. Eventually, I managed to lose weight by changing my eating, which for me has always been the ONLY way it ever happens, and I ditched the cardio.

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Right now I am in the gym every morning. Over the long haul, it averages to about 6 days a week because life does happen. I’m not there for long, either. I wonder what some people think when they see me come in and then see me leave, all while they are still slogging away. What they don’t know, obviously, is that I am there everyday. I get about 3 1/2 hours of lifting in each week. That’s quite a bit. It might even be a little too much, but I need the consistency of “every day” and am currently working to re-sort my exercises so that I am resting the right muscles at the right time.

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The other good thing is I seem to have a body that responds well to weight training. Having shed a noticeable amount of body fat, the muscles are now making their appearance. Despite my mother’s dismissive “what are you going to do with all those muscles?” I love the way it looks. That’s my positive feedback, getting to see the muscles emerge and be defined.

I like the system I’ve got right now, my eating and lifting plans have gotten me where I am happy with my body again. Even if life gets in the way and I slack off for a while, I know I’ll go back to lifting. I always have.

[I had wanted to add a song about lifting, but there are very few. I found one I really liked by Disturbed, but it’s totally NSFW and Disturbed is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you have never heard THIS Disturbed song, you really need to listen. Surely everyone knows the song, but their interpretation is incredible.  The poignancy due to the political state we are currently in is also not lost on me.]

New Friends

friendslogoI made a new friend. Do you know how hard that is to do as an adult? Seriously, when was the last time you made a new friend? Someone who was a complete stranger to you 24 hours ago that is now saying “Hey, we should do something together!” Don’t get me wrong, I have made loads of music friends and they are precious to me. But we get together for shows. Frankly, many of them live states, even countries away. I’m talking about a meet me at yoga and then go to lunch new friend. AND THAT’S JUST WHAT HAPPENED.

I went to a bar down the street that had a friend’s husband’s band playing. The friend never showed because she had vomiting children (such a legit excuse!) But that meant I was alone. A woman liked my freshly done, just-got-it-four-hours-ago tattoo and we started talking. We had some things in common, she took my number, and lo and behold, she texted me and asked if I wanted to join her at yoga on Saturday. I’m not super into yoga, but I am super into people reaching out to me, so I said yes. Turns out the studio had a sweet starter deal and I will be able to try as many classes as I’d like for the next 30 days for only $29! With it only being 5 minutes from my house, I think I will get my money’s worth. Afterward we went to lunch (sushi!!) and got to know each other. She even said “I hope we can be friends.” How cool is that?

Friends are important at all ages and stages of life.  It’s sad that it’s so hard to make new ones as life advances.  Many times, these are the days when things are changing and you need new kinds of people in your life for new kinds of things.  I hope this new friendship works out.