Saturday, October 19, 2013

An unremarkable story about yoga

Back in June I began to feel a great deal of concern for my lower back. I can’t remember exactly what the issue was, but some amount of pain had taken root and wasn’t going away. After a few weeks I started to think that maybe I should try to do something about it, so I looked on Groupon to see what my options were. (Because, why have a doctor look at a hurt back when Groupon has all the answers?) The stars aligned for me and my back because I found reduced price yoga classes at a location right down the street from me. Over the years I’ve done a little yoga here and there, and always enjoyed it, but it seems to have turned into a hipster activity rather than mellow exercise. Being on the receiving end of far too many stories that began with “Last week, in my yoga class [something unremarkable happened]”, I was well aware that no one cares what happens in your yoga class other than you. Would I turn into one of those people? I decided it wasn’t worth dwelling on because yoga seemed like it could potentially be the answer to my lower backaches.

It’s always a little hard to insert yourself into a new situation, especially when it seems like everyone else is an old pro. But what I learned during my first week of unlimited yoga classes is that there are far more varieties of yoga than I could have imagined. It took a few near-misses before I settled on Yin style as my go to. It’s basically an hour of really nice, deep, and slow stretches. Sometimes the instructor will read from a meditation book, or pontificate on the zen lifestyle, but I’m very rarely paying attention. Yoga, for me, is an incredible place to let my mind wander (they really emphasize that you should not do that—focus on the breath, work through the stretch, etc.). It’s so relaxing that I’m able to just let go and think about things that would normally stress me out, but in that atmosphere I’m not stressed at all. It’s actually quite productive. And physically, it’s the perfect counter to a long 8 hours sitting at a desk.

But then last week, in my yoga class we had a new teacher because the regular teacher decided to stay home and give birth (true story). Things were going along just fine with this new teacher, but then at the end of class, as the lights were dimmed and we were all laying down feeling calm with eyes closed… she came behind me and started TO MASSAGE MY SHOULDERS. Can you imagine?! Call me crazy, but a massage that I didn’t have to pay for (or beg Joe for) is better than all the holidays wrapped into one and dipped in chocolate. Seriously, there is almost nothing better in the world. It was a perfect end to the day, I’m still feeling good about that situation.

So there are definite perks to going to yoga. But I will also say this. My lower back problems have completely gone away, and I believe most of that is directly related to routine stretches (in my class twice a week). And occasionally I’ll strike up a conversation with a fellow student, so extra points for yoga as a semi-social activity!

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