En Route: Yoga 30
I’ve got a couple of issues going. Okay, more than a couple, but let’s stick to the top two for now, okay?
First- whatever happened to silence?
I have no peace in my life, or in my brain. Could it be because you actually have to seek silence out nowadays? Between social media, 24 hour newz cycles (I once had some questionable chicken wings, spelled wingz, and honestly that’s how I view the news these days. Side-eyed, and fully aware that it might upset my tummy), and screaming commercials, it seems that everyone has forgotten how to just shut the @^+! up for a min. But even when I turn off the offending sources lately, my thoughts play out through a megaphone.
Second- my hips. Ugh.
I’ve sought help time & time again, but it’s all doom and gloom out there. Chiropractors giving me funny looks after they scan my x-rays... Hey, I can’t help that I’m one of the 10% with an extra vertebrae, or that my left hip is clenched so tight it’s virtually locked. I mean I’m still upright and mobile, but according to the folks on the other end of my insurance card- not for long.
Like old friends I’ve outgrown but who refuse to outgrow me, my hip issues have hung around for nigh on 20 yrs now. I’ve grown used to that left side being as tight as a fist in the mornings, and the lingering pains that follow road trips.
But I’m getting a little older, and recently, after having spent some time on my Mom’s couch, I had no choice but to take the matter seriously. All of the sudden, I could no longer sit. I could walk just fine, hell I could even take on the heavy bag for a few rounds. But I could no longer simply sit without emitting a whimper. Good luck slogging thru my 9-5 with that issue, right? Something had to be give.
So, where to find relief? For both my brain and my hips? Well- yoga, one might think. Except those classes don’t come cheap, and frankly, funds are as tight as my hips at the moment. But then I stumbled across an advertisement- a local yoga studio in the beach town where I live, offering an intro special- $30 for 30 days.
Well it felt like kismet, so I signed up. Then decided to make a hat trick of it. $30 for 30 days? How about 30 classes too?
I don’t care who you are, $1 a class is a pretty sweet deal.
Now, I knew I wouldn’t go every day. Some I’d skip, and some days I’d double up. But I’d keep a journal along the way, in order to hold myself accountable. So here we yoga-
Day 1- Core Power Hour.
Words are important, don’t you agree? For instance, the word Power.
Right off the bat, I was wayyy out of my league. Folks were inverting all around me while I was still trying to hold a Warrior I without fumbling into the wall. When I finally got it, I took a moment to look around the room. Everywhere, arms and legs flew akimbo, and I couldn’t help but notice-
“Ah, so this is where the hot people hang out.”
Guys with bulgy biceps, girls in skimpy tops with sculpted shoulders and firm tummies. Well, I wanted to be one of them- I mean who doesn’t? So even though I spent most of the class in a state of high embarrassment and low achievement, I decided to press on.
Day 2- a Double. Gentle Meditation and HIIT.
GM was calm. Too calm. Really, sometimes you’re just lying there. Again, words are important. When they say ‘Gentle’, they mean it. It wasn’t for me. So that was a one and done.
HIIT was like any other High Intensity class, with squats, jump lunges, etc… but interspersed with yoga poses for good measure.
My el cheap-o yoga mat wasn’t holding up under the burpees, and by the end it had even begun to shred around the edges. I found out the next day it was also too thin, as I awoke with two nickel-sized raw spots on my lower spine. They call that raspberry butt, fyi, and it comes from doing way too many sit-up variations without a proper foundation. But was I really ready to invest more than the initial $30 into this scheme? No. El cheap-o is me.
Day 3- Ouch. Day off.
Hurts to sit, hurts to stand, hurts to shower, hurts everywhere.
Day 4- Another Double- Kunga and Hot yoga.
Kunga is a pose class. More on my level than Power, but still a challenge for my untoned muscles and basic skills. I setup in the far back corner.
Hot Yoga- whoa, brutal. Class starts off fine, but watch out, because the heat builds as time progresses. By the halfway mark, I was dizzy enough that I had to step out for a moment. So I took a few breaths, drank a bunch of water, and got back in the game
By the end my temples, elbows, and mat were dripping with sweat. I discovered a favorite pose, and by that I mean- one I could actually do. Boat pose. But my raspberry butt kept getting in the way. The spots just weren’t healing, so that night I gave in, and ordered a new mat. Nordstrom was having a sale, thank goodness, and I found one I liked for $40, down from $70. Free shipping.
Day 5- Sunday- Off.
I did a morning editing session on the beach for my next book, but that was it. My muscles felt like cooked spaghetti and my raw spots still haven’t healed.
Day 6- a Triple! Kunga, Yin, and Candlelight Restore.
This time I had a different instructor for Kunga, and she started off gentle. So gentle, in fact, that it irritated me. You know how we do- our inner comic book Calvin shaking his fist- I want it now! Whatever it may be- pizza, a movie, a return text, muscles.
I. Want. It. Now!
Challenge me! Make me fit! What is all this lamesauce breathing nonsense?
But then she had us get to our feet and hold a simple right knee lift. Within about twenty seconds, my left leg was trembling like Jell-O in an earthquake. So, humbled once again, I stilled my inner Calvin and settled into class. Like it or not, this was going to take patience, and I was simply going to have to crawl before I walked.
Yin- Basically a deep stretch class, which sounds easy enough, but it wasn’t. To most of us, tight lower backs and hips are our baseline, It’s how we live, and this class was stretching out muscles that hadn’t been tapped into for decades. I might as well have been trying to bend steel. We stayed in pigeon pose for what felt like days, and more than once I had to blink to clear my watering eyes. Painful, yes, but gratifyingly so. I would be back for more Yin.
Candlelight Restore- I had looked forward to this one the most, but it turned out to be another one and done. What a snoozefest. Literally. With soft music and candlelight, the folks around me were dropping like flies. It was the ‘gentlest’ yet.
When I got home I had a package waiting at my door. My new mat has arrived! And boy, is she a beaut. My skill level might be low, but at least walking in to class I’ll look like level- pro.
Day 7- Off.
I hadn’t planned on taking the day off, but I woke up feeling icky. Fatigued and hot-faced. Toxic-like. The only other time I’d experienced that feeling was when I’d tried a candida cleanse. That’s where you take oil of oregano and a few other supplements, then eliminate all sugars and processed foods from your diet with the hope of achieving gut health. The cleanse works, but the die-off process is brutal. One of those- it gets worse before it gets better, situations.
But just then, aside from yoga, I wasn’t doing anything different, so I couldn’t source the Ickiness. And it just grew worse as the day wore on. By afternoon, my left calf muscle was like a guitar string being relentlessly plucked. I could actually watch the muscle twitch. By evening, my emotions were in a maelstrom. Waves of frustration, irritation, and anger crashed over me until I had no choice but crawl into bed, even though it was only 6pm. What the what is going on here?
Day 8- Back to normal, but feeling a little wary from the events of Day 7. What was that? Still, I pulled a double- Core Power Express & Hot Detox & Hold.
Power class was easier this time, both- because it was shorter, and dare I say it, I’m holding my poses a teensy bit longer. So that’s motivating.
Hot Detox & Hold- a doozy. When they say ‘hold’, boy do they mean it. We were holding poses for 3-4 full minutes, while my legs trembled and sweat dripped down my elbows and splatted on my mat.
By guzzling about a gallon of water, I made it through.
Day 9- Off. Off. Off.
I woke up angry and aggressive- a winning combo indeed, and continued to be a basket case all damn day. I could barely finish my 9-5, even though I work from home. And forget about editing. By early afternoon I was in tears, and by 6pm, back in bed, so depleted I couldn’t even summon the energy to change channels. Seriously, what is happening here?
Day 10- Off again.
Emotions are back under control, but I’m still shaken from day 9. And with so much going on at the moment- a full time job and trying to edit my new book into submission, I’ve come to the tough decision that it’s time to end my brief love/hate affair with yoga. I just can’t risk losing any more days to those Oscar worthy dramatic meltdowns.
Day 11- Hip issues strike again. Against my better judgment I decide to attend one more class. 75-minute Yin.
Whatever knocked me sideways on Day 9 has also knocked me back to square 1. My hips and lower back are now so tight now I’m practically spring loaded, and my pigeon pose is so high, I might as well be in triangle.
After class, and in search of reassurance, I mention the emotional thing to my instructor- Could there be a connection?
Well, color me surprised, she said it was normal. Normal!?
She said that we trap hurts, tensions, and worries in our hips all through our lives, and when we hit those deep stretches, those pent-up emotions get released.
So what, like there’s a little man in there running around with a net, capturing our feels? Locking them up in tiny hip cages? Well, it all sounded a little ‘granola’ to me, if ya know what I mean, but I couldn’t exactly discount the explanation either. I mean, something sure had sent me spiraling.
Day 12- Off.
I wake up twitchy and sore, but emotionally stable- thank goodness, because I really don’t want to quit.
Day 13- another double- Kunga and Hot Detox & Hold.
Here’s a tip- don’t go to class hungry. Even after eating a quick banana on the drive over,
I still spent the entire two and a half hours daydreaming about a Jersey Mike’s #7. Afterwards I'm sweaty and sore, but my sandwich is delicious.
Day 14- Off.
Went to see the newest Quentin Tarantino.
Day 15- Kunga and Hot Detox & Hold.
Today was a turning point for me. My workday didn’t go well, nor did my early morning editing session on the beach. But for perhaps the first time in my adult life, after a day knotted up in thistles and thorns, I didn’t head to the bar for a quick fix. Instead I headed to yoga, and you know what? It soothed the savage beast. I felt positively well-adjusted afterwards. Again, a first.
Day 16- Day Off.
Work sent out an email during lunch letting us know that overtime is open for the taking. My days are already pretty full, but the coffers are bare, so I’m going to have to dig deep for the next two weeks. Today I clocked in 11 hrs.
Day 17- another double, another Kunga and Hot Detox.
As much as I dig the $30 intro special at this studio, they don’t offer a wide variety of classes. Which is why I seem to be taking the same ones, day after day.
Even though I was up before dawn to work, and feeling pretty worn out in general, I managed both afternoon classes. A quick rinse off in the shower, and a few more hrs of OT afterwards, and I finally wrapped up my day at 10pm and crawled into bed. So this is my life for the moment.
Day 18- Saturday. Yin.
I did my usual sunrise & iced coffee editing session on the beach, added in 5 hrs of OT, and headed for Yin.
I felt really tired when I walked into class. Like my limbs were weighted. But something happened to me in there, because when I walked out 75 min later, I felt so light I was almost euphoric. I know what the ‘something’ was, but I don’t want to go into a lot of detail about it. Not only was it personal, but I think that stuff sounds kind of silly in the retelling anyway.
Let’s just say, I guess I’d untangled enough of the mess in my brain, because I was able to fall into a meditation so deep it actually felt spiritual. Like I’d floated to another plane. One where clarity reigned. See- I told you it would sound silly.
Day 19- Off.
Sunday, and I do take my Sundays seriously.
Sunrise editing, but that’s it. No work, and no yoga.
Day 20- Kunga, Hot Detox, and another 11 hr workday.
My hips are finally starting to release. For the first time in over 2 decades, they’re almost moving in accordance with one another. That is to say, they still object when I ask for figure 4 or pigeon, but it’s become more of a whimper than a shriek. Making progress.
Day 21- Off.
Editing and 11hr workday. Ugh.
Day 22- a Double. Core Power Hour and Yin.
This was my first return to CPH since Day 1. It’s still a class for the cool kids, and I’m still not one of them yet. I mean I’m getting closer, but when they invert, and their torsos and limbs shoot off into the air like tree branches, I’m still planted firmly on the ground. One day…
Yin was too calm today. I’ve learned, it all hinges on the instructor. Some take that whole ‘gentle’ aspect too far. I mean, if I’m going to drag my happy ass to class, I need more of a result than what I could get from staying home and watching an ASMR clip on YouTube.
For example, she wanted us to hold cobra pose for 2 minutes, but that one always makes my back twinge, so I asked for a modification. She told me to lower my chest and extend my arms in front of me. Which I did, but then I realized- I’m just lying down. I glanced around to see if anyone else noticed this too, but you’re not supposed to make eye contact in yoga, so I was left to my own devices. There I lay.
At the end, the instructor came around while we were in corpse pose and gave us each a head massage followed by a slow pattern tracing around our foreheads and temples. It felt heavenly. Heavenly. So, she and I are friends again.
Day 23- Day off.
Work and editing.
Day 24- Yin and Hot Power Flow
Holy Smokes. Why do I keep overlooking the word Power when choosing my classes?? This one was a level 3 out of 3, and it kicked my glutes. Don’t let the word ‘flow’ fool ya either. In this class it simply means- no breaks. With eyes crossing and sweat dripping, I held my poses, transitioning as instructed, somehow made it thru, and vowed never to do it again.
Day 25- Yin Yang.
A new class on the schedule, so even though it was Sat afternoon, the room was packed. We hit some deep stretches, but nothing exciting to report.
Day 26- Off. Sunday.
After a 60 hr work week, 7 yoga classes, and editing 75 pages of my book, homegirl needs a nap.
Day 27- Hot Detox.
Today was a prime example of why keeping this journal is key. I am burnt out, but still 5 classes short of reaching my thirty. At this point, I’d be skipping classes right and left if I didn’t have this log keeping me accountable.
Class was led by a new instructor, one who would probably fare better in CrossFit, or even the Army. He even strolled the room to make sure we were complying with his orders, and by the end of class I managed to twinge my back something fierce.
I guess it makes sense, now that some of the convolution in my hips has unraveled, I can twist further and hold longer, so there ya go. I’m suddenly asking for game winning touchdowns from dusty muscles that have never scored a single point.
I’ve got my fingers crossed that this back-pain passes quickly. I mean hey, I’m on the home stretch here, pun intended. Only three days left. I soak in the tub for a good hour before bed to help things along.
Day 28- Ugh. My lower back is jacked! I have no choice but to take the day off and hope a little more rest will do the trick. Which leaves me with four classes to squeeze in to only two remaining days.
Day 29- Back on track. Core Power Hour and Hot Detox.
Some days are just easier than others, and this was one of them.
Day 30- a Double. Because I have to.
Pilates/yoga (new class) and another round of Hot Detox. Oh boy.
Thank goodness Mr. CrossFit was MIA today, so I didn’t have to leave my final class on a stretcher.
Well, there ya go folks— I did it! And though my victory was private, you had better believe I walked out of that studio on Day 30 with my head held high. On the way home I bought myself a popsicle to celebrate.
So how do I feel—
Stronger? Well my old friends, the triceps, have reappeared, and the night after the challenge ended, I went for a 3-mile walk, which I followed up with 90 walking lunges. 90! I usually tap out at 30.
And I didn’t even die from DOMS the next day. So yeah, I suppose I am.
Calmer? Well, a herd of Clydesdales has since moved into the apartment above me, and I haven’t actually gone up there to rip anyone’s head off. Yet. So go ahead and check that box too.
More meditative? I continue to mute all commercials- esp the insurance ones, yeesh, but now start my mornings with a few quiet moments of daily devotionals and pigeon poses instead of social media. So that’s another yes.
I’m going to take a couple of weeks off now to focus on my work and my book, and then I think I’ll check out another yoga studio in town. I saw one offering the same intro 30x30 special, but with different classes.
*Update- After a full 3 weeks off, I started at the new studio. The first class was Aroma yoga, which was a little slice of aromatherapy heaven. And then Power Hour. I’m still not quite one of the cool kids yet, but guess what? I popped right up into full wheel pose, something I’d never managed before. Surprised the heck out of me too! I even held it for 10 seconds. It hurt like hell, but I did it.
*Update 2- I’ve even begun to yoga now when I travel. So far I’ve hit classes in Bali, Mexico, and on a few cruise ships. That chick with the pretentious yoga mat slung over her shoulder in the airport? Might be me.
I haven’t yet decided on my next challenge, but I’ve got a few in mind. And I know I’ll set one, because I’ve acquired the taste for it. Nothing is more delicious than achieving your goals. Not even a Jersey Mike’s #7.
Now, I want to hear about your challenge. Give me the details. Inspire me! Go ahead-
I dare ya. I triple downward facing dog dare ya.