Sunday afternoon turned extra lazy after attending a movie with a good friend. Returning home and entering the warm confines of my bedroom, I felt the strong urge to go get a greasy hamburger, tator tots and lounge the rest of the day away. Of course I would exercise my mind, reading, writing, perhaps practicing my banjo. The one complication of guilt is that I had committed to a yoga class and was scheduled to attend Sunday evening. Get on down the road to yoga, or be a Sunday couch potato with hamburger and tator tots?
Growing up in the age of Twiggy and later Jane Fonda aerobics, I have tried to be conscious and vigilant of maintaining a fitness level my entire life. At first it was all about how I would look. Now my goal is to be in the best shape possible in order to participate actively in a life of travel, hiking, snowshoeing, camping, and enjoying food without packing on the pounds. In addition to walking, and strength training with weights, I decided to add Yoga to the mix. Research consistently reports that it is a great practice for flexibility, a great stress reliever as well as tones the body.
Having recently received a diagnosis of a heart condition, the stress management aspect has taken on greater importance. The other primary goal I have is on the topic of flexibility and lack of its existence in my body. The flexibility issue came alarmingly to my attention during a trip to the Ocean in 2011 with my lovely dancer daughter, Molly.
For our early May visit, the beach had rolled in a poetic looking prop that we entitled “The Beach Ballet Tree,” where Molly practiced her dance stretches. She encouraged me to try out some of the stretches. Though I suspected my muscles may be a bit tight, I confidently took my place at the Beach Ballet Tree.
Upon striking the first pose, Molly, barely suppressing her giggles, exclaimed, “Really mom, that looks a bit awkward.” I thought to myself, “What the hell is she talking about!” You see, in my mind I had magically turned twenty or thirty again and was able to exhibit a high, impressive level of flexibility!
In the cool misty air, with soothing ocean rhythms, I was fairly certain my stretches extended as elegantly and as far as Molly’s stretches. However, and a big However this is, the pictures tell a different story. I truly felt and believed that my leg extended back and as high as Molly’s leg. Furthermore the issue of my arms not stretching out gracefully signifies I must have been trying to hold myself up!
Perhaps the tree was at fault and not connecting with me the way that Molly seemed to have bonded with the intricate branches. I decided to move my poises closer to the ocean seeking the energy that promised to transform my stiff muscles in to fluid and far-reaching stretches. Again, in my mind I had achieved a full length body stretch, horizontal and perfectly balanced on the sandy stage while the damp windy air bolstered my spirit and sense of well-being. However, once again the pictures highlight an irritatingly different reality for me.
The memory and evidence of the beach ballet pictures motivated me to ditch the hamburger and tator tot plan and get to the Yoga studio. Still self-conscious of the limited, creaky movements of my body I take my cherished spot in the back. Believing that consistent attendance and practice will one day loosen those muscles, I take to heart the instructor’s guidance to go at my pace. It is shocking at times to discover the loss of movement due to excessive amounts of office cubicle sitting and couch hamburger and tator tot behavior. The good news is, my body still moves and I am feeling some progress, as well as sleeping better.