My yoga journey is now two months strong. I feel that in just two months I have made some big improvements. My wife has commented that my posture has gotten better. I feel like I have a little less tension in my shoulders. In a bit more than a month, I have learned how to do the “crow” pose. And now I am beginning to do “side crow”. I never thought I would be able to even attempt these poses and now they are becoming within my reach. I still feel like I have such a weak core and a general lack of flexibility but I also don’t expect these things to improve overnight. I also still feel the need to watch the teacher through the class to see if I am in the right position. I find that the audio cues are either not enough for me or too much to comprehend while trying to balance or get into a pose. I am interested to see my progress continue and where the journey will take me.
Thursday is one of two days a week that I have committed by self to do Yoga. A bit more than a month into my Yoga experience I can really say that I am enjoying it. Of course, with yesterday’s snowpocalypse this class was canceled. Although I was bummed I took this as an opportunity to doing my own Yoga session at home. I knew it wouldn’t be perfect but I felt at least I put an effort in to do something. If there is one lesson I learned in 365+ days of running its that the hardest part is just showing up and honoring the commitment. So with my laptop set on the table and my Yoga mat spread on the floor, I opened up Youtube and found a 30-minute beginner Yoga session to follow. It wasn’t the worst experience but it was not without issues.
I had two issues during the practice. The first is that doing Yoga in the apartment you don’t get the calming effect of being in a studio. Yoga studios have very open floor plans, nice ambient lighting, music, and other spiritual objects placed around the room to “get you in the zone”. Doing Yoga at home you are surrounded by all the potential things that can cause the stress in your life you are trying to get away from. And the additional space in a Yoga studio gives you the freedom to move around. I stand about 6′. I need a bit of room to stretch out my arms and legs.
The next thing is that I found it difficult to be able to observe and follow instruction from my computer while actually doing the poses. This is something I still have a bit of trouble in the regular class but Not as much. I think could get better after watching the video over and over again or following the same video for a month until the sequence of the session is learned by rote. The ultimate measure for me for every Yoga experience is how I feel at the end of it. And even with this
The ultimate measure for me for every Yoga experience is how I feel at the end of it. And even with this 30-minute mini home Yoga session, I felt better than when I started.
Today was Yoga Class No. 7. I can’t believe I have been doing this a month already. A good portion of the initial awkwardness I felt is fading and I am getting more comfortable with the flow of the class. When I find myself not doing the right thing I smile and laugh it off as I peek around to see what the teacher is doing or how others have modified the pose to work within their means. It is athletic and very physical but not competitive.
Last week I began to attempt the crow pose. This week was a continuation of that challenge as well as an hour full of other meditations, stretches, and other postures. I feel improvement. The progress seems small but it is noticeable. No cool Rick Rubin medication postures or head standing photos yet. Once I get the hang of crow may I’ll post a photo for fun. Besides the physical poses and movement, I really enjoy the breathing exercises. My favorite being Alternate Side Nose Breathing or Nadi Shodhan pranayama . I recommend this to everyone. It is simple and you can learn from the Dali Lama himself via the video link below.
The most noticeable difference outside of yoga class, especially after today’s session, was a sense of attention and awareness for my spine. As I was out walking this evening I could feel better alignment in my spine and less tension in my shoulders. More importantly, as I tried to move into my usual hunched over posture I was aware that it did not feel correct or good. Mr chiropractor Dr. Michael Bernstein called this Caveman Dragging The Knuckles or something to that like that. I would like to eventually eliminate this hunched over caveman feeling. I suspect over time it will happen especially taking into account the progress that I feel already.
As the Yoga journey continues… Last night, which was my fifth yoga class, we were introduced to The Crow Pose. After a bit of instruction, I tried to get into the pose a few times. I was able to get my legs off the ground a support myself a bit. It was fun and the same time very challenging. This is something I can see I will working on for a while. After doing some research online I also learned that this pose is an entryway to many other poses. The pose like everything else in Yoga seems like an even split between strength in various muscles and lining up your physical structure so that it can support itself. Aside from the introductory crow pose experience, I felt during the session I was able to get into a few of the stretches a bit more and also less physical stress on my legs. My hips, lower legs, and torso still are feeling really tight. Progress comes slowly.
On to class no. 6 this week.
Earlier this afternoon I took advantage of the mild weather we have been having in NY. I l tightened up my yellow Newton running sneakers and headed out. My running workouts as of late have been minimal but extremely consistent. (I am currently on day 388 of my daily running streak) A mile at an average pace has been the routine. This past week I got in a really good Speedwork out but other than that I’ve have been reluctant to push too much in the new year as I adjust to the new Yoga workouts I am doing twice a week. Rule no. 1 for me: don’t over do it. (unless your in a race, then go for it) Today I got in a much-needed longer run of 5 miles. It has been a few weeks maybe even two months since I have gotten in a long run. Long runs and short runs are very different. Long runs are much more about exploring your running technique and your own mental space. Longer runs provide a meditative zone that let you clear your mind and take notice of everything going on in a particular moment with your body. It usually takes me 20 minutes or more to settle into a consistent long run pace in which everything begins to settle. I find in important in a long run to give yourself a few minutes to work things out. For me, it is common for muscle problems to appear. Especially early in a run. I might have a pain in my ankle, or strange feeling in my knee for a few moments and then it will disappear. I say this because often issues arise and people put on the brakes and give up immediately. The best distance runners and triathletes have taught themselves how to get through those points of discomfort and keep pushing forward. Whenever you feel something strange while you are running give take a moment to see if your body can work through it or think about your form. Ask if you are doing something different. Where is your foot hitting the ground? How can you work through it? You might need to bring the pace down or even adjust something in the way your foot is striking the ground. But do not give up. I hope this a quick look into how I run helps you. As always I would love to hear your experiences and tips in the comments below.
Yesterday evening I went to my 3rd Yoga class. It marked a week since this adventure began. Through out the class there times where my muscles felt challenged but not in way that was as strenuous as Thursdays class. I learned about the use of foam “Yoga Blocks” and I also started to learn how to use the stretching strap to make the poses a bit more comfortable. It still feels very awkward to be reaching for the strap or looking around for it when I need it, but it makes holding a stretch much more attainable. Toward the start of the class we also did a meditation and a breathing exercise with the nose. Breathing in one nostril and out the other. I found it very easy to get very deep comfortable breaths and in general very calming. Over the long term I am curious to see how these breathing exercises change my trumpet playing amongst elements of my daily routine.
After the class was finished the one noticeable change I felt was a complete disconnection from technology. Usually I am always looking for my phone, or texting in a social media app of some sort. The need to impulsively connect to the interwebs was gone. That was a great feeling.
The journey continues….
Last night I took my second Yoga class.
This class was a bit more physically challenging for me. After a few minutes of awkwardness, being the only guy in the room, the session began. Stretches which did not look over complicated were deceiving. At this point in my experience I felt much more focus on trying to learn the poses and simply stay on my feet. I suspect as I become more familiar with the poses my focus will shift to other places like being more relaxed, breathing, and an overall picture of how my body feels in each session. Right now I can only base this on my running experience, and how that has evolved overtime.
Through out the hour and fifteen minute session various things ran across my mind ranging from:
Don’t fall or loss my balance.
This isn’t so bad.
Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin Do this Shit?
What are the muscles in my core and mid section that I am stretching?
Oh god, please don’t let that cramp up.
Okay this movement is slightly familiar from Sundays session..
A complete appreciate for Yoga Blocks or whatever they are called.
Is it getting hot in here?
When is this over.
The tension in various places is moving.
And this is kind of what yoga is about right? Realizing these things floating through the mind, noticing them, and letting them go.
I left the class with an energized feeling, but it was an energized feeling I am not familiar with. I am used to a caffeinated, cant sit still, I’ve got to do something feeling. You know. the feeling…you are ready to be productive and get things done, but in a very scattered way, as if you energy was a container of new years confetti shot out of an air canon that goes every where. No. This was a much different sensation. I felt good, relaxed and focused. It was the end of the night so I was not working on any specific task, more just focused in way in which that productive energy was in one place, or at least closer together than in the confetti metaphor.
About 20 minutes after the class, I think it was almost 11 pm, I went for my daily 1 mile or more run and felt as if it was just slightly more enjoyable, with less tension.
I hope that the various posts on my beginning yoga experience will encourage other people to try it. After two classes I can with out a doubt see there must be many long term benefits to be discovered.
After many years of friends, music teachers, and even doctors suggesting yoga to me, I finally rolled out the mat and took my first class. I had minimal goals for the 90 minute session. Do not fall asleep, do not fall or faint, and for the love of god… don’t fart! There were a few weird moments, I’m not sure if I was prepared for the chanting, but overall it was mostly painless and I made a point not to push anything too far. I didn’t struggle with the poses as much as I had anticipated and I felt it to be more or less calming. I found myself looking at the Yoga instructor as a point of reference many times and felt relief in the one or two poses I recognized like “The Plank”. Many of the breathing exercises also seemed like familiar territory. Breathing and variations of breathing exercises are always topics of lengthy discussion in the world of brass playing. There was one moment when I came pretty close to cramping. I think it was during one of the warrior poses. The arch of my foot began to tighten up but before it turned into a charlie horse the pose ended and I shook out the muscle letting it relax.
I am looking forward to the next few months to see how things progress. Namaste.