Restorative yoga

I went to a restorative yoga class this morning in lieu of the gym. While not as vigorous or calorie scorching as running through a List of the day, it was hugely beneficial to calming the brain and talking mind back from the ledge.

Plus I got a good, deep hit of sleep and woke up feeling refreshed. Sleep truly is the great equalizer when I get out of sorts.

This workshop was different from other yoga courses I have taken in the past few years in that it was not hot. Since I started in a Bikram studio (which has since dumped the Bikram branding and does just “hot” yoga with same 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises), every class or workshop has been in a heated room. Until today.

We also used all kinds of props – bolsters, blocks, straps, blankets, rolled up towels. I liked that the teacher used the word “shapes” rather than poses, because it sounded simpler to my ears and overtaxed brain this morning. The shapes were gentle – nothing at all like the yin class I wandered into last year – and the meditative aspect of it was just easier for me to grasp. Being told at the start of a shape to focus on breathing and then left to mostly silence other than very soft instrumental music and the sound of the teacher and assistant moving about worked really well for me. I still need to work on the breathing, but months and months ago I remember J describing the breathing as a “balloon belly” on the inhale and I focused on that. Hey, whatever works, right? And for once, it mostly did. Mind settled down, emptied, and body letting go of some of its tension and relaxing soon followed.

The workshop itself was longer than a typical class, with a lot more demonstration and explanation than one might get in a regular restorative yoga session. The teacher would have been a bit to new age woo for M, but for a single workshop it was okay for me. If this is what all classes are like I will adjust to the imagery cues presented. I am probably way too shallow for too much of this sort of mother earth and source of all things sort of cueing. At least he did not use all sorts of sanskrit; everything was “the shape we are pursuing …” instead.

I can truly see why they call yoga practice rather than workout or whatever other energetic sounding terms used for the gym, and I am 99.9% sure that’s why I tend to refer to my working Lists as practice. I know I need more of it if I ever expect to truly reap the benefits of yoga – once a week is going to take me awhile to master and delve deeper into the individual poses and benefits – but I only have so much time.

Which has also been a source of thoughtful pondering for me of late.

In my heart I know the gym will continue to be the heart and soul of my daily exercise, and something pretty dramatic will have to happen to deter me from my early morning practices. However, I have a great deal of flex in my daily schedule right now, and I could rework things to attend different classes in the early evenings. To date I have been going on Friday nights because it is the only 60 minute class at the Folsom studio I can schedule regularly. However, there are others in Granite Bay at 6:15 on Tuesday and Thursday, which would work for me, especially with the change in seasons and M not getting up at 3 a.m. to be out the door and running by 4 a.m. Wednesday nights there is a restorative class at 7:30, and I have already decided this is something I need to test drive, especially since they are not in the hot room of the studio.

As I age and become more dedicated to my resistance training with J and my Lists, I think retaining at least my present level of flexibility is going to become increasingly important. I put it that way because I have some anxiety/fear that I might not be able to increase it even with lots and lots of yoga and stretched. Time will tell, as they say. If I am not willing to give up gym time, I am going to have to compromise on my evenings for yoga/stretching time.

On the surface that sounds like such a sacrifice – another 3 hours per week devoted to exercise. How else do I spend my time, though? I dawdle. I web surf. I stare into space. I will get caught up in the news soundbites. If I am brutally honest about it, I am dawdling at nothing useful or productive or FUN for more than an hour every day.

When I started getting consistent with my gym time, I allotted a whole hour at the gym. Then it was an hour and 15 minutes. Then 90 minutes. Now I shoot for at least a 2 hour block, and I am not always successful. Whether I use it all or not is irrelevant; I just like having the option to charge ahead and go big and feel as if I did a lot of high-quality work when I leave the gym. As the months have passed I have learned it’s not that I do not have 2 hours for exercise but more that I need to prioritize it over other choices. Presenting it that way to mind, I feel far happier and look forward to the exercise. I believe the same is true make room for more stretching and flexibility pursuits. If I prioritize it appropriately, I will not feel like I am missing out on something else.

Balance, elusive balance. Right now I am just looking at schedules and trying to figure out what I can make work. Since I have no further distractions the balance of this year – everyone is married, vacation is over, work is just ebbing and flowing as work tends to do – now seems like the best time to try new things and see what sticks.

May I just say I am ridiculously excited to be back to normal next week? Training Monday and Thursday. Work from home day is now back to Tuesday (something else came up at the firm so this was my only week of Thursday non-office day – yay!). And hopefully no more gym weirdness closures like today, although it did work out that they made the decision for me about whether or not to take this workshop.

I am a simple soul. I just seem to enjoy the boring predicability of routines more than many others.

Happy Saturday everyone! Off to the office I go.

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