This hasn’t been a fun week for me. Earlier in the week, while talking things over with my sister, she decided that it would be beneficial for me to attend a restorative yoga session. She’s big into that sort of thing, and since she’s usually right (no, really), what choice did I have? HAHAHA….not really like that. If I’d said that i didn’t want to do it, she would have understood. But I’ve been trying to spend more time outside of my comfort zone these days, so I accepted the offer. Since then, I’ve been very apprehensive about the class, bordering on anxious about it. In a wellness meeting on Thursday, a collegue said, “I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Keep an open mind and you will have a good time.”
My only other experience with restorative yoga came a few years ago here at work when a local yoga instructor was trying to hold classes at our facility. He offered a free half-hour session. I was the only one who showed up. I felt like a dork lying there in the dark with smelly (some sort of earthy scent…patchoulli?) blankets on me while the yoga guy read to me from a book. Not really my cup of tea, but I survived. I haven’t gone back for any other yoga….anything….until this evening.
I arrived at the studio about 20 minutes early; a mat outside the waiting area gently indicated that this was the place to leave my shoes. Through the open doorway I could see a woman behind a desk, though the lighting in the room was dim and relaxing. Chanting and flute-like music wafted into the hallway. I approached the desk and introduced myself. Karen said that I was “all set”. Ummm…no, not really…
I explained that i was “waaaay outside my comfort zone” and would likely need some guidance. I asked if there was a place where I could change into my running tights (no gaps!), and she indicated a shogi screen in the corner…well, that was interesting. I was VERY tempted to dramatically drape my clothes over the screen and mutter something about “can someone help me with my bustier” but thought better of it.
I entered the studio and picked my spot. Someone was already in the room lying peacefully on their mat. My mat is brand new. Yea. When I slowly unrolled it there was a sound in the room as if velcro was being separated. So i tried to go slowly and quietly, sheepishly apologizing the whole time. Not a good start, but typical for me…
There were 10 of us in the class and I was the only male. The instructor ran through some housekeeping items (bathroom that way, ask for help if you need it, does anyone want an eye pillow?) and we got started. Several times she used the words “delicious”, “sweet”, and “beautiful” as she explained the first pose. After we were breathing steadily for several minutes while she repeated, “I have arrived. I am home” (or was it “whole”? I spent a LOT of time trying to figure that out. Either one works, really…) she said that we would be breathing “alternating using one nostril, then the other.”
(insert WTF? face here)
two things entered my mind: 1) HOW is this possible and B) WHY BOTHER, as the nasal cavity is really just one chamber which begins right after the septum blah blah blah….”I have arrived, I am whole/home”. But I kept an open mind. “to do this, place your fore finger and middle finger of your right hand against your third eye..”
(insert WTF? face here, too)
ummmm….exCUSE me? (opens eyes, looks at instructor) OH! HAHAHA HAHAHA…HAHAH….my FOREHEAD? yea…..there. ok. gotcha. so then she walked us through plugging up one nose hole, then the other, etc. We did that for about 5 minutes before moving onto the next thing. Poses. Table pose, cat/cow/cat/cow/cat, now swivel your hips and do cat/cow/cat/cow, then puppy, then something else, then…AHA! WARRIOR POSE! I can DO THAT! YAY, ME!!! The poses listed here aren’t in the order that we did them. They’re just in the order that i remember them. During one pose, as we switched from right arm up to left arm up and lean back and open up your chest and look at your fingertips….i nearly fell over. yep. BUT….the lady next to me DID topple over, but she landed on her ‘props’ and was fine. (later she nearly choked on her saliva as we were making a waterfall from our feet into a pool in our belly before it spilled over into our chest then out the top of our head. but i’ll talk about that one in a bit…)
We moved back and forth, working on lower body restoration. Propped up on folded blankets I tried to focus on my breathing, tried to be in the moment, tried to let odd thoughts come into and flow out of my mind. “I have arrived…I am home/whole/hungry…mmmm..foooood…mmm…I have arrived……” For the above mentioned waterfall, we placed two blankets against the wall, then one blanket perpendicular to it, forming a “T”. We put our legs up against the wall with our “sit bones” (no, really. that’s what she called our butt) on the two blankets, our back on the one, and our head on the floor. This created the waterfall…
I gotta say that i really liked this position. I’d run this morning then spent a few hours with my parents at a BBQ competition. Draining my legs was nice! It was fun to see FLAT VEINS in my feet, which almost never happens. A few more leg-centric moves, then we switched to upper body.
These I did not like. In one of them, we had a pile of 3 blankets in front of us with our legs spread wide, scootched right up to our….well, we were close to the blankets. She then had us lean into them, resting our chest on the top. That was fine, but the way it tweaked my left ankle was not so fine. Ouch. We also did a modified child pose on top of the blankets, and that one hurt my right knee, just below my patella. Odd. Never noticed that before….
The last thing we did was to lie on our backs with our lower legs supported on the blankets. She even suggested that we use one of the other blankets to cover up with if we were chilly. Ummm….if i’d done that, i would have been ZONKED OUT. So i just concentrated on my breathing and relaxed into the moment. Then i thought about food. And running. And my family. oh! breathing. right. just breathing…
As we all gathered our things and left, I noticed something odd. Nobody spoke to each other. We’d all just done this…restoration…and once again were complete strangers. Just seemed odd to me.
So…would I do it again? Yes, I think I would. Might be fun to do with some people I know, though, so that afterward we could sip some Chai and compare notes.
Thanks, Lynette, for the experience.