Months ago my friend Ainslie recommended yoga as a therapy to help both my mind and body recover. I've never done yoga, and indeed I thought I would hate yoga because I am lanky and inflexible with relatively bad knees. But I'm a new person now, highly divergent from who I was before cancer. And as the weather turns, I'd like a mechanism to get out of the house and exercise. Maybe I'd like to give yoga a try, once a week for five weeks?
I found a yoga studio just downtown, within walking distance from our house. It is a private business with only one instructor. It thought that this would be a promising way to get into yoga, because if I'm going to hate yoga I don't want it to be because of a poor-quality experience. I'd rather give myself a fair chance to like yoga by taking it from someone who Lives yoga. And let me tell you, the instructor seems to Live yoga. She is fantastic!
I've only attended one session thus far, but preliminarily I love yoga. In just one session something under my scar popped and I have slightly increased range of motion. It was wonderful to have some direction from the instructor in terms of pushing my body; I think I am a bit of physical coward when I am stretching by myself at home. The direction revealed that I am not very strong in the right places, so it will be awhile before I get the hang of the breathing and the posing. I definitely did a lot of quaking the first time. I am greatly looking forward to getting strong in the right places! And maybe I will gain back the inch of height that I lost as a result of two pregnancies. Ainslie said that she gained an inch in height after only a few weeks of yoga. I don't really need to gain an inch like Ainslie did (she is adorably petite), but if a girl's gonna be tall she may as well be 5'11" rather than 5'10". At 5'11" I'll make better use of these enormous feet (aka stabilizers).
In addition to the physical aspect, yoga is a mental exercise in releasing stress and anxiety. I tend not to carry much of either around with me, but I found that I enjoyed the mental yoga almost as much as the physical yoga. It was relaxing. More importantly, it was wonderful to have permission to think about nothing for a whole hour. Rarely do I give myself permission to think about nothing: if it's not the kids it's the science, if it's not the science it's the chores, if it's not the chores it's the blog, and so on. Turns out that I enjoy thinking about nothing.
My yoga instructor also sprinkles the nothingness with pleasant nuggets of thoughts. I scurried to write this particular thought down as soon as yoga was over:
"...letting go of the illusion or dream that you're perfect, and settling into your natural state, which is imperfection..."
I am certain that this comment came from the universe, ensuring me that I was in the right place. I have been thinking a lot about the natural state of imperfection lately, primarily in the context of physical beauty. When I had two breasts I did not think that suffered the illusion that I was perfect, but the fair bit of mental energy I have spent settling into my new natural state of having one breast indicates otherwise. Perhaps I have a leg up on my fellow yoga-ers because I am actively engaged with settling into my imperfection. And perhaps yoga will help me to settle more comfortably.