The injection of “new” into the human experience is best handled in increments. What does that mean? Try learning to be a pitcher and a catcher at the same time or learn how to tie trout flies and maneuver a sail boat in the same session, and tell me how that goes….
For whatever stupid reason, I discarded this logic on Wednesday as was lucky to get away with it. But, there were two great lessons that came from it.
That morning started with a bike ride into Monroe, NC, our local town, and I achieved a personal best for average speed. The trip I timed was a 13 mile route on smooth roads, each way, with lots and lots of rolling hills. Yesterday, it took 32 minutes. Boom! I pedaled in the time trial position at nearly maximum effort, and I was spent at the end of the ride. I was sweating and had already consumed all of my water. I had no intention of trying to achieve a personal best that day, and it was awesome to look down on my GPS app on my phone and see the results. I got off my bike, put it on my shoulder and walked up stairs to Core Studios for some pre-scheduled classes. To say that I was feeling good is an understatement. I knew that I had just achieved a speed on the bike fast enough to get on the podium. Now, all that was lacking was an opportunity to put fast biking with fast running together and see if it could grow. My conviction that Yoga and Pilates has helped was strong.
First unknown of the day….Power Yoga. My wife told me more than once over the preceding days to reconsider taking this class, but I didn’t heed her advice. That said, it did create a little bit of anxiety for me. Practicing Yoga has done a great job at addressing weaknesses in stretching and restoring muscles back to their full range of motion that are a result of Duathlon training, and I look forward to the classes that I have been taking with Anne. They give me a safe place to address my weaknesses. Modern men lack public places where it is OK to expose weaknesses without ridicule.
Shona consistently teaches the Wednesday Power Yoga class, and she is trusted and well-liked. Shona is one-in-a-thousand about taking her students, where they are, and helping them progress. I always hold my teachers in highest regard, as they pass on their gifts and passion was to us. Shona had already assured me that this class was doable, and I had no reason to believe she was leading me astray. She knows about what I am trying to do, and wishes only the best.
Truth is, I felt like a 5 year old, needing some coaxing to jump from the edge of the swimming pool into the water for the first time….without any swimmies on!
The other three students were women that I knew. All were (and are) friends of my wife and super-fit ladies, and there was nothing to prove or not prove that day. I grabbed a space on the floor with a loaner matt, a little exhausted but excited to begin.
I had not yet cooled down from the ride before class started. I had a cup of water nearby, and my previous yoga experiences never included profusely sweating or wanting for strength. In fact, I usually feel rested at the end of what I considered Yoga. Holy crap, was I about to be wrong.
My legs were twitching from the overexertion before we started, and we immediately started into the asanas. During class, Shona instructs us to go from pose to pose, with soothing phrases during the poses. They are unique to Yoga compared to any other exercise I am familiar with. “Do what feels right,” and “release what is pent up in your mind,” all came out while attempting to do the equivalent of playing the party game Twister, all by yourself. Way too many instances of “WTF” came and left my mind during that hour.
I knew the root of asana was the word was sit, but there were derivations that could also mean “hope,” so I looked up what it really meant as I started typing this blog. Wikipedia defines it as “to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed for extended, or timeless periods.”
It means, “just hope that you can make your sorry ass stay in this position long enough to get back to down dog!”
Timeless? Really? There were some of those asanas that I couldn’t wait to end. Granted, I am sure that I wasn’t alone. Timeless handstands? Timeless chattarangas? No flippin way!
“If you want to take a vinyasa, go right ahead,” came out every couple of minutes.
Take it from where? Whose vinyasa am I taking? Do they know that they are about to be down one vinyasa?
At one point, Shona referenced me by name and said the next thing to do was splits. At that point, I was too sweaty and spent to come up with a cute remark. I was tired, and my focus on quality was beginning to fade. The next asana required turning around and looking towards the back of the room. I looked around and saw things that normally are not in eyes of a middle aged man. I noticed that everyone was color coordinated and matching. Their clothing fit, too! They were all breathing steadily, and no one appeared distressed at all. I counted the windows in the room. I had moved from tired to giddy-like-a-college-all-nighter giddy.
Lesson-don’t bike like a banshee, only to follow it with Power Yoga a few minutes later.
I think I was the only one swearing under my breath that day. The Nepali language offers some great ways to vent using small clusters that sound just like you are sucking your teeth. T, CH and M with vowels sprinkled in the middle indicate I am saying something horrible.
One the flip side, the class went quickly, and it was a great, whole body workout. At one point, I looked up at the clock, and we’d already been going an hour. In that same glance, I saw that both of the women behind me, Jill and Amanda, were looking strong-they are both fitness rock stars and had been to this class repeatedly. Heather, next to me, was no different. In that moment, they inspired me to keep going. I knew in that moment that I was coming back to this class.
I had a conference call immediately before the relaxation portion of the class started. Alas, I missed the last and best 5 minutes. After the call and before leaving and to meet my wife, I made it a point to thank Shona for the class and that I would be back.
I had a one-hour break in between the next class and the next new event of the day. Linda picked me up and we ran an errand or two before getting a small bite to eat and going back to the studio. At this point, it was noon, and my docket of to do items still included another hour of exercise before heading home and working for 4 to 6 hours.
This was a Pilate’s matt class. Certainly, I have done one on one classes and machine classes using the Pilates method, but not a group class on a matt. My wife was in the class, and she had a broken foot. I quickly concluded that this must be a low impact sort of class. What I wasn’t expecting was chaos.
Jill obviously had a unique relationship with every single person in the room, and they were all familiar with her style of group instruction. I wasn’t. Maybe it was being tired, but I could not follow all that was going on in class. There was music playing and lots of cross talk between students. To complicate learning, I could never find a consistent way to confirm what we were doing. In a group class, it is not always possible to have a view of what the teacher is doing. Unlike Yoga, where each asana has a name and associated position, sometimes, I would hear, “ now I want you to do one of these.”
One of what?
I would look to the guy on my right for guidance and the girl on my left, and often, they were each doing different things.
I concluded “one of these” meant, “just go for whatever.”
Sure. Why not? Sit ups with my feet up in the air three different ways?
It was a lot of fun and not nearly as tiring as the Power Yoga class, or the bike ride. And, to be fair, I probably could have made it a priority to follow what was going on, if I wasn’t already tired.
Later, Linda came out to see me after I jumped in our swimming pool and shared phrases that everyone likes to hear..
“Let me show you what you were doing wrong in that class. First of all you were…..feet………up……………………………………..blah blah blah……………….table top is this way, not that!”
“And you just need to do this right next time, OK…………………………..”
Her point that my form fell apart when I got tired is a good one. Hate it when she is right….
Lesson 2. You can have children with your wife, but you can’t take a Pilate’s matt class with her.