Note: This is the first in a series of posts from sunny Florida. Yup, I’m in Florida on a self-imposed respite and retreat to focus on getting healthy — mentally and physically. Hopefully it works!
A week ago my therapist gave me a CD. It included four tracks. Forty-three minutes of gentle yoga, 30 seconds of chimes to end that session, twenty minutes and 32 seconds of a sitting and breathing meditation, and 31 seconds of chimes to end the exercise.
On Sunday, my first full day of my self-imposed respite and retreat to Florida, I decided to begin my day (after coffee, breakfast, visiting with my mom and answering multiple texts from concerned friends wondering where I had gone in such a hurry) with the gentle yoga session.
What is gentle yoga? Before I began I had no idea. After my first session, I would describe it as a relaxation and stretching exercise; a 43 minute session in breathing and self-acceptance; and a time to just be.
A quick Google search will bring up a definition for gentle yoga, from yogayoga.com that states “Gentle Yoga is a great place for those who just want to take it slower. Classes focus on releasing tension, connecting with the breath and working with the joints. Gentle yoga brings balance to a hectic schedule, and classes are appropriate for students with limitations. ”
For me, this session was a step in discovering where and who I am right at this very moment.
A few things I discovered:
• Gentle yoga is a great place to begin for anyone who has never done yoga and wants to give it a test drive. This particular session consisted of
- The corpse pose;
- The half bridge;
- A few knees to chest poses;
- A partial cobra pose;
- A pose I hated where you bring your lower back up off the floor and your bent knees to your ears and;
- Lots of breathing, but I was continually reminded to only do what my body could at this moment in time.
There were lots of other poses, too. I just wanted to give you a general idea.
• My ankles and hips were extremely tight and sore. The simple act of moving my ankles in circles elicited cracking sounds and pain in my calves. And lying on my side and raising one leg of the ground, well forget it. I couldn’t lift my leg very high because of the tension in my hips and buttocks and this position fatigued these muscles very quickly.
• I liked the simplicity of this exercise. I felt no pressure to compete with my usually loud internal competitor, to force myself to do more, push harder, get that leg higher.
• There’s a strange calm that came over me when I did an exercise, lost the awareness of my breathing and then brought my attention back to it.
• I DID NOT like the final exercise that required me to bring my lower back off the floor and bent knees over my head. I felt constricted, and felt a wave of anxiety enter my chest (that still continues as I write this post). It was difficult to breath, it hurt, and I gave myself permission immediately to stop.
But the most difficult part of this gentle yoga section, as well as my biggest takeaway from it was …
* Gentle yoga is a lesson in acceptance. Throughout the recording, the instructor encouraged me to accept myself at this moment, with all my strengths and limitations. Accept how far I could take a pose, and to be OK with it.
He said these words over and over again, and each time he did, I felt a wave of sadness wash over me, and the flood of tears begin. At one point my entire body was shaking, and I didn’t know if I could continue.
Then I said to myself, “This is where you are right now. Accept the tears and move on.”
And I did. I continued with the gentle yoga and every time the tears came, I acknowledged them and went on with the exercise, because this is who and where I am right now.
I am a women who spontaneously bursts into tears in the shower, on airplanes, during gentle yoga, and in mid-conversation with my mom.
I am lost and confused, and I need to take some time for myself, and accept that this is OK. For now, I need to take a break from being a mom and wife, cheerleader and housekeeper, sister and daughter, and career woman and friend.
For now this time is for me, and with or without gentle yoga I have accepted that. I know that my main goal right now, at this moment is to get healthy — physically, mentally and spiritually. And I’m OK with not “doing” and just “being” for a change.
Oh, and one more thing I learned from this whole gentle yoga experience … It left me with a incredible need to pee afterwards.