So I made it through my second yoga class the other day without stopping (or dying!), and I was warmed up enough that when I walked home, I barely noticed that the temperature had dropped to a balmy 7 degrees.
This time around, I was a touch less focused on just surviving the class, and could pay attention to things like exactly what my limits are right now (more than there used to be), and exactly how my body was having trouble moving (ways that never used to trouble me before). I did do every pose though! The quality sucked near the end, but I pushed myself as far as was reasonable I think. That’s what matters.
See, what I’m feeling with my return to yoga is almost exactly what I’ve been feeling like with my writing lately. I can’t seem to bring myself to feel good about the rebuilding I’m doing. Oh, I do it. I take a step forward and I’m determined to show up and take the next one; lots of people would pat me on the back for that. Yet, I know how far I’ve fallen. I don’t go, “Yay, me! Let’s keep moving forward!” I think, “One step down, 9,995 to go until I’m back to where I was.”
It’s motivation by self-loathing. It’s letting fear and anger fuel me.
It’s the Dark Side of the Force.
Probably not a good thing. But what to do about it…?
Sunday, I survived my first yoga class in about 2 or 3 years. It was a small class, but well run. I had that awkward moment where I was the oldest person in the room, but I got over it. (That’ll only get more frequent, right?) The studio is new, so it’s not quite finished yet. The folks that run it are getting it there, though. I’ve no doubt it’ll become the tranquil place they envision. But it didn’t phase me. I have a history of working out in places that were far worse (but where I got the best training). Plus, I’m Filipino; training in garages, backyards, on concrete, etc. is in my DNA.
I didn’t quite survive unscathed, though. I was doing pretty well at first; there wasn’t a single pose the whole class that I hadn’t attempted before. But about 3/4 of the way through, all those intercostal muscle spasms came back. I dealt with it at first, but then I had to stop for a bit until the very end.
|Not proper yoga mindset.
I pushed for two reasons. 1) I constantly mistake yoga classes for my old kung-fu classes where, if you feel too strained to execute a move or drill at full force, then you do it slowly using the best technique you can bring yourself to muster and 2) I’m just stubborn by nature. One of the very few things that life hasn’t beaten out of me quite yet is the idea that it’s better to light an inch than curse the dark.
It’s just that sometimes, that attitude has less to do with following through with goals and more to do with defying whatever’s keeping me down. Even if it’s myself. It’s like that old joke about the parrot who resists its owner trying to teach it not to constantly say “Fuck you.” Finally, the owner gets frustrated and throws the parrot in the freezer. And when he opens the freezer the next day, he finds the parrot frozen with it’s middle finger raised.
Sure, maybe passive-aggression against myself isn’t the healthiest way to pursue goals but hey… whatever works.
The day before Lifehacker featured the discussion “How do you start exercising when you’re older and out of shape?” I’d signed up for a yoga class at a new studio that opened up an 8 minute walk from my place. Probably one of the few times in my life that I started out a little ahead of the game.
In keeping with that, I’m scheduling this post to be pushed out after the class, just in case it kills me. This actually isn’t (unless I’m deluding myself, which I suppose is possible) an attempt to fulfill a freshly minted New Year’s resolution. Getting back into shape has been on my mind since I turned 40 last July. I’ve known for awhile that it’s past time I put some consistent effort into maintaining this meat-sack of mine.
I set the bar low: to just not be a mass of blubber with no muscle tone. I’m not trying to recapture what I had in my late 20s/early 30s when I was training different martial arts and feeding an endorphin addiction by working out 3-4 times a week. Though I admit, I looked good those years. I’d lost two pants sizes, and wore jeans from high school. Now I’m back to where I was before I worked out, and then some. I was flexible back then. I’d just like some of that back. It’s still kind of there I think; I’ve always had slightly above-average flexibility. But it doesn’t take much to push it too far these days.
It still feels like a lot of my moves are still in me, though. But I’d be stupid to try them now, without a slow return via something like yoga. I’d end up looking just like this…
So, assuming this isn’t my last entry, I’ll be back with tales of how this over-40 meat-sack rises from the ashes…