Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Reluctant Yogi

It was in the dead of winter that I decided I needed some sort of exercise routine. The frozen weather had curbed my walking, and I was feeling as though my sedentary lifestyle was shrinking my muscles. 

But I knew my own requirements: No gym, no class. The bother of having to leave the house and be victim to a sadistic instructor—I think not. Secondly, nothing that was out to make me wheeze dangerously to the point I'm gasping on the floor. 

I decided on yoga. Ma had taken up yoga a few years previously, even though she shares my impatience for slow, deliberate movements. The first time she tried it, the main thought running through her head was "Never again." But she kept returning.!/image/2217202443.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_640/2217202443.jpg
I rolled out a yoga mat. I searched On Demand for a beginner's program, and there was one, about an hour long. The instructor began to soothingly intone. 

About a 15 minutes in, I was groaning. But I also felt exhilarated, blood flowing into forgotten extremities. 

"Don't do the full hour," Ma warned. "You'll just get nimess from it." I thankfully stopped the soothing intonations after thirty minutes.

While my body complained for the next few days as muscles I didn't know I had grumbled, I somehow found myself in front of the screen again, executing the horrible Warrior II pose. I felt that the next day. 

"How long did it take you to like yoga?" I despairingly asked Ma. 

"About five classes." 

It took me less. I did the full hour the second time I tried. I then played it again twice, at which point my three-pack DVD set arrived. That one made me ache all over again, but I officially love yoga. Using the AM-PM Yoga for Beginners disc, I was surprised by a delightful tingling and glow from my shoulders. It felt wonderful.
Last winter Ma slipped on the ice and had a bad fall, so bad she instructed Ta to bensch goimel on her behalf. She insists that if she had not been taking yoga, the damage would have been much worse. 

I had done yoga just four times when I trotted out on a January morning to fetch the paper; the steps slid out from under my feet. Thank you, freezing rain. I managed to grab the banister, but felt a searing wrench in my back. I curled up at the bottom of the steps for a few minutes, gasping deeply before I felt brave enough to gingerly clamber back up. 

An hour later I felt no pain. I popped in another yoga DVD. 

My shoulders moaned the next day from the cobra poses, but my back was quiet.
Giddy with possibility, I then scoured the internet for more options. I purchased The Biggest Loser: Weight Loss Yoga and Tara Lee Elements of Yoga. I would recommend my first purchase for an official introduction, as these other two don't really get into detail how to properly hold positions.  But Bob Harper is great when one feels like one needs to push oneself, and Tara Lee's routines are thorough while being a reasonable twenty minutes in length (the discs in hers work upwards in difficulty from Earth, Water, then Fire. Many moves in Fire are beyond me). 

I only do yoga, currently, twice a week. In short order, I began to experience pleasant side effects. I'm calmer. I sleep better (especially after one of the PM workouts). I'm stronger—who knew that I had a bicep? A bicep!  I can flex it like Popeye! 

I'm sturdier. I never used to have stamina to stand endlessly, but now I'm a serene, steady, solid pillar. I feel, at least physically, less of a pushover. 

Also, although my weight stubbornly remained two to three pounds above my best the whole winter, I was still able to easily fit into my clothing without anything needing to be tugged. Ah, therein lies the benefit of exercise; not weight loss, but muscle tone.

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