...we could all stand to be a little more flexible
Hi, everyone. I'm back from a week-long - but what seemed like a year-long - vacation spent in the beautiful coal hills of Shamokin, Pennsylvania. All week, I basked in the sun while taking in the breathtaking sights and smells of this city.
Remind me never to do that again.
It's beautiful here and all, but there is nothing worse than vacation involving no actual destination - besides stir-crazytown
As someone who is used to working six days a week on a regular basis, a week-plus off was like actual torture. I don't know how the self-titled disabled, and various other government check-collectors around here do it -what troopers they must be. (You know which ones I'm talking about; I know some of you deserve the help you get and there's nothing wrong with that.)
Thanks to oversharing in recent columns, you may be aware I'm in a bit of a temporary, but tough spot.
In an effort to take my brain down a notch or two, from racing to doing at least 10 mph over the speed limit, one of the things I did on my vacation was hit up a yoga class at a semi-local studio.
I should mention I'm not exactly a yoga beginner, yet I'm about as far away from an expert as you can possibly get.
I've taken classes here and there and actually tried to fully commit to practicing yoga every night before bed for a while a year or so back in an attempt to battle my ongoing beef with insomnia.
My yoga of choice?
Well, I had a DVD, but it was outdated and I had no patience for the woman instructor. She's on a cliff somewhere overlooking the ocean, and I'm in my living room in downward dog position trying to drown out the sounds of drunk couples fighting on the street corner while shooing my little cat, Luxie, from batting at my hair while my head is upside-down. Not tranquil.
I needed something that had more structure, so I chose the next most natural, organic option: a video game.
With the help of the Wii Fit system, I gave yoga a whirl and, admittedly, it helped a bit to have something actually tracking my progress, but that, like most things, didn't last.
The Wii balance board really only taught me one thing: I have about the same ability to remain completely still as a nervous chihuahua running a jackhammer.
Nevertheless, when I feel I need to level myself out, although I occasionally look to my friend, tequila, sometimes I take a yoga class with one or both of these two gal pals I have who are, by far, two of the best, most helpful and amazing women alive.
Without family, friends and music present on this earth, there would be no stabilization in my mind, body or soul, so thank you to all of those.
The yoga instructors I've come across in real life could not be any nicer or more accommodating. They always exude a welcoming feeling and never judge or laugh at you when you fall out of a pose or straight-up can't get your body to do something.
I think it helped, but here are my observations of the major components:
Apparently, the whole practice is about this deep, controlled breathing.
I have a hard time thinking about breathing. In fact, when I'm working out, if I think about breathing, it screws up my breathing and then I feel like I can't breathe and I start thinking about how strange it is that we involuntarily breathe and I get all out of sorts.
I know. I've got issues.
So, while yoga is meant to relax and ground me, I'm still trying to master the art of breathing - something my body is doing for me regardless of what I think, say or do.
I feel like once I have that down, though, I could potentially benefit greatly from it.
Who doesn't want to be able to contort themselves into pretzel-like poses with limbs bent in a fashion you never dreamt they could be? I hear a girl's ability to be flexible is beneficial in all kinds of aspects in life.
But some of these poses.
- Frog pose. Ok. On your knees. Now, position your feet so that your heels are facing inward and your toes outward with that weird ball-like ankle bone pressed to the floor and your upper half of your body bent over with your weight on your forearms or something. Yes. You'll kind of look like a frog - mind you, not like ours from Sound Off; he's one of a kind.
Like I said, I am far from an expert, but frog pose is a strange pose to be in. One that I'm not sure your body would ever require you to get into in any of its situations.
- Happy baby. Now, on your back. You know how a baby just exudes adorable when it lays on its back and grabs its little feet and holds them? I mean, can you even take it? Happy baby pose attempts to recreate that in adulthood. The result? You'll look as if you are an armadillo or a turtle who has been helplessly flipped on its back trying to get back to right-side up. Happy baby? More like hilarious armadillo.
The whole idea, I guess, is to tune out and get back to the earth. Center yourself.
Although I really make a concerted effort, my inability to relax at certain times in life coupled with my total lack of composure when I think something is funny when it's not an appropriate time or intended for humor will probably inhibit my future as a yoga master.
But, if you can get passed its reputation and just go at it at your own pace and take from it what you need, I truly think it does a body - and mind - good.
(Jenna Wasakoski, a News-Item editor, is a graduate of Von Lee School of Aesthetics and is certified as a professional makeup artist.)