Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yoga and Carotid Arteries and Plumbers, Oh My!

Last night, I went to my semi-regular Tuesday night vinyasa class (formerly taught by Dan the Man--a great, if predictable in his routine, yoga teacher), but it was strange. It was not vinyasa, first of all, plus the weather was terrible (cold and rainy, which made my recently-broken leg ache). Also, Leslie, the teacher (coincidentally, Dan's wife), had just been in a car accident, and she was--very understandably--shaken up. She was not hurt, but she, like her car, was a wreck.

During this long, very slow class, I felt like we were just randomly, without flow or cueing, putting ourselves into stiff asanas, and that the Sun Salutation very nearly went on forever. Certain parts were even  skipped, and it was jarring, in the way where you know a very familiar song but someone else covers it and changes it--stretching it out interminably in parts, glossing over others--and it's just hard to accept, and you don't really like it.

To make matters worse, we did the fish pose (which I've always hated, and I don't hate much in yoga), and I put my head back so far I was worried for a few minutes that I'd severed my carotid artery--which I've heard can happen in the salon, for example, if you tilt your head too far back in the hair-washing sinks. I actually had thoughts that I might pass out or die.  

Then we were lying down in preparation for savasana when all of a sudden, Leslie remembered we hadn't quite finished the Sun Salutation! So we stood up, blearily, dizzily, and put our hands over our hearts, and then we got down on the floor again. 

Like I said, it was strange.

I got home late, because class was so slow and surreal, and my children were waiting up for me (WHY CAN'T THEY PUT THEMSELVES TO BED?) and hadn't bathed, hadn't brushed teeth, etc. At this point, it was pretty late.

I fell asleep in my daughter's bed, as I often do, because I am so tired at night that I just drop right into unconsciousness after reading a story. Then I awoke, as I usually do, about three hours later, and could not get back to sleep at all!  

I am beyond tired right now, and I still can't sleep.

I should take the advice of my yoga teachers, all of whom advocate breathing in rhythmic patterns to still the mind.  Why don't I remember to do that? If ever I needed to do that, it was yesterday.

I was up all night, thinking about annoying stuff--how someone flashed some obnoxious gesture at me yesterday as I drove (no, really, I am a good driver). How I know I didn't deserve that, and I felt especially outraged because I was Innocent.  How plumbers never return my phone calls, and how annoyed that makes me. How I really need to buy more dental floss. How SEPTA (Philadelphia public transit) is threatening to strike and if they do, then my husband won't be able to get to work because his car is in the shop and so he is currently dependent on the trolleys.

About 11 years ago, I  had a yoga teacher (I actually called her the Yoga Pill, because she was really not very friendly, unlike most yoga teachers I've met) who said something that has always stuck with me.  "Put your hand on your heart," she instructed.  "Feel that? That's your life.  Everything else--all the errands you have to run, the paperwork you have to do--that is not your life. Only this (the heartbeat) is your actual life."

I should think of her advice, too, when I can't still my mind, when I worry and can't sleep.


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  2. I agree about the importance of yoga. In the U.S., I think many people really see yoga more as a stretching class, but it's so much more. It is as psychologically helpful as it is physically useful.

    Yoga is one of the only things that helps me to live in the moment (at least while I am in yoga class. I find vinyasa is more useful for this than a slower Hatha yoga class).