07 November 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Gate in Autumn

Gate leading to the Shôyôan Teien, College of East Asian Studies, Wesleyan University.

29 October 2018

Adventures in Yoga

To my surprise, I have begun a regular yoga practice. The sound healing and meditation workshops I've attended have all been held at yoga studios and, after one workshop, I somehow got it into my head to enroll in a five-week basics of yoga beginners course. Then, because that clearly wasn't enough, I signed up for a bunch of chair yoga sessions. And I'm loving them both. Yoga is, to my astonishment, something I can do.

Previously, whenever I'd thought of what kind of woman did yoga, I'd visualize Fit White Non-Disabled Lululemon Barbie. And, sure, one of the studios I attend is full of that type of woman, but they're not going to the same classes I am. My classes are full of people like me, who are gamely trying their best while frequently lacking elegance of movement. Warrior (Virabhadrasana) III, for example, is a right bastard if you don't have good stability. I do not have good stability and weeble-wobble with my leg only partially raised before I retreat back to Mountain Pose (Tadasana). I do a really good Mountain Pose.

As for chair yoga ... well, anyone who tells you chair yoga isn't "real" yoga is speaking nonsense. It may be gentler, with the traditional poses modified for accessibility, but it is still a very active and mindful practice. The chair yoga class I take uses a combination of sitting and standing positions. With the standing positions, we use the chairs as a support to adapt freestanding traditional forms like Tree Pose and Down Dog. Everyone takes whatever amount of support they need from the chairs. Some practitioners Down Dog to the top of the chair back. Others Down Dog to the back of the chair seat. It is all about working at our own pace within our own range of limits and abilities.

Anyway, I come away from yoga with a brain that feels relaxed, loose, and languid while the pleasant burn in my arms and legs serves to remind me that I am killing it at downward-facing dog and plank pose. The good brain feels don't last, no, but it's brilliant while it does and gives me a goal to move toward -- I will find a way to one day always feel that way.