Monday, August 1, 2011

Yoga glow, handstands and Natal Day 8k run!

This recovery has been one of learning about patience and believing -- believing that no matter how difficult things may seem, they will get better. It's also been one of taking lessons learned from different times and places, and applying them to this long learning process. It's been one of learning not only about my body, but about myself as an athlete and person.

And this week, I felt like I accomplished a few major milestones in my recovery. I finally feel able to put in place a tentative fall race goal. More on that race goal later.

Although last week my belly was a little sore and swollen after Zumba, I decided to head to the Park Lane Good Life to see if I could make it through the whole hour of yoga. I'd also been feeling tired the last few days, perhaps because I'd forgotten to take my iron pills. But I was tired of doing nothing so I decided to see what I could do.

Perhaps it was because Jason slowed things down since there were a few beginners in the class, or perhaps because I'm getting stronger, but nevertheless I felt like I had much more stamina and energy this week as we flowed through the poses.

Focusing on my breath, I was in the zone, flowing from one position to the next. By the end of the hour, I felt cleansed. As we said Namaste, I thanked myself that I'd taken this time to practise on that day. I headed out of there, my mat slung over my shoulder and a satisfied glow within.

After that success, I felt emboldened. Yesterday, after a great day hanging out with hubby on the Eastern Passage, I decided to head to Ashtanga Yoga Shala and try an hour-and-a-half-long Karma class. I figured if worst came to worse, I would hang out in child's pose for most of the class if it got too difficult.

Walking up the stairs to the Shala, I was more than a little nervous. Guylaine's Karma class is a tough one to keep up with, and she can be pretty ruthless. I was worried that she'd try to force me into poses I wasn't ready for and I wouldn't be able to keep up.

But then when I got into the studio, there was no trace of Guylaine. Instead, Seth was there. And anyone who's taken classes with Seth knows -- he's even more ruthless and focused than Guylaine. Just a few minutes with either of them is enough to turn me from a confident yogi into a self-doubting one...Which according to them is probably a healthy approach to yoga in any case.

So I unrolled my mat, took a seat and waited to see what Seth had in store for us. The studio was uncommonly empty for a Sunday, and I wondered if most of the class had headed east to Moncton for the U2 concert.

A few minutes later, Seth came in, turning on the lights and taking a seat on the stairs.

"So - do you want fast, or slow this week?" he asked. Most of the class was quiet, although there were a few inaudible mumbles from the far corner of the room.

I didn't say anything. Last week I'd warned Robert that I was still recovering from surgery and wanted to play things by ear, and he respected it (sometimes instructors feel compelled to push me into poses and I didn't want that to happen). But around Seth, I felt a little shy -- or perhaps intimidated. He's pretty intense. Again, I figured if need be, I'd take a breather and hang out in child's pose if things were too tough.

"No one? Ok well then we'll just do handstands all class. I'm not kidding," he said.

He wasn't kidding.

Bear in mind that I hadn't done a handstand in at least 10 years, even though I'd been a recreational competitive gymnast and coach for almost 10 years.

Bear in mind that I'd had pretty serious surgery about two months ago.

I was nervous. As I breathed in and out through my nose and settled into a few sun salutations, I wondered whether this had been a good idea. Maybe I should roll up my mat and walk out.

Then again...Who knows what I could do?

So I stayed.

Soon enough, we progressed from sun salutations to deep groin stretches, and then...

Handstands against the wall.

But I was determined not to be the one who walked out. Thank goodness for self-imposed peer pressure.

In the end, I ended up doing handstands against the wall for 5, 10, 15 breaths as Seth worked us through a series of poses meant to stretch our groins (how handstands were doing this, I wasn't sure, as I breathed into my shoulders, which were quaking with the effort. However, I tried to remain up as long as I could given that I was one of only a couple of girls hanging out in the full pose. Yes, I'm competitive).

It was a tough class. It was at times a painful class -= as classes with Seth tend to be. But I did it. Once again, I left with a tiny little glow of self-satisfaction. I felt like my recovery was looking up, although my shoulders would be sore in the morning.

Yet today, surprisingly, my shoulders weren't sore. I was encouraged.

Although today was Natal Day and Nova Scotians should be taking the day off to celebrate our province's origins, my poor hubby had to work. So after dropping him off at work, I decided to try and head out for another run, albeit a slow one.

It was hot, so I spent most of my run darting from one shaded area on the sidewalk to the next. Part of me was glad that I'd missed so much of the summer's hottest days. I typically tend to be a hot runner, so I don't perform well on warm days.

Anyways, I did it. I ran 8k today in 10:1s. My pace slowed considerably by the end of the run, but I didn't let it get me down.

Something Seth said in class yesterday while I was upside down in handstand resonated with me today as my Garmin ticked from 6.99 kms through to 7.00 as I crested the long gradual incline next to the Public Gardens:

"Your leg may not be as far down as the person beside you, but that's ok." I think that's what he said...something akin to "It's not a competition. It's just about you." (I was upside-down and focusing on not falling, so not all of what he said stayed with me, but the message did).

And unless you're an Olympic athlete, I realized that's just as true for running as it is for yoga.

So while I could have been disheartened that once again this run was slower and harder than I would have liked, and that friends I used to train with would have smoked me today, instead I focused on my own little accomplishments.

Today, 8k, next week - 10 or 12?

And this October, who knows -- maybe the Valley Half?

But for now, I'm content to take it one day at a time; one step at a time; one little success at a time.


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