Return to the Beginning

Yesterday I told you the sorry tale of going back to yoga after taking the summer off. Well, we’re in the critical second day after a hard workout, and I’m still not hurting. Oh, I’m a little sore, here and there, but I’m not hurting. So, what does that mean? It means it’s time to dial it up a notch.

How do you dial it up from a motion flow/Hot Pilates double? When you’re in your still in muscle recovery (24-48 hours after working out) you go to Bikram Yoga. Why? It’s hot and  it’s humid, and at your age, isn’t it about time to slip into what Pink Floyd called “alcohol’s soft middle age?”

Well, no. Part of why I’m as fit and healthy as I am is that I’m a teetotaller (haven’t had a drink since 1996, so alcohol’s soft middle age is out). Another is that I have an addictive personality, and these two reasons happen to be interrelated. Andrew, booze, addiction, and subbing good habits for bad (hmm, habits again, I’ve really got to get that post on making/breaking habits written) is a story in an of itself.

But not for today. Today, we’re returning to the beginning. At least to the beginning of yoga, for me.

I came to yoga by accident; my wife and I were studying in Beijing and my primary exercise at the time, running, would have killed me. There’s another story…one of the only times in my life I’ve been truly afraid for my health was due to the Beijing air. Anyway, I wasn’t running, but there was a yoga club near the school, so I tried a Bikram class (my very first yoga class of any kind), fell in love with it, and the rest is (13 years of) history.

I have never lost my love of the Bikram torture chamber. Even when I learned that my physiology cannot perform the postures as described. Even when I learned that doing the postures as described would destroy my lumbar discs, ruin my hips, and probably wreck my neck. Even when I learned that Bikram yoga was not only not helping my back and posture, it was actively harming it, I never lost my love of the heat, the sweat, the strain.

No, what I did was, rather than ruining my body to serve the sequence I learned to modify the sequence to serve me.

And here we are, summer is over, the boys are back in school, the days are getting shorter so the kayak is confined to the weekends. It’s getting cooler outside and I like to exercise in the heat so I went for my first hot yoga class since June and it was…awesome.

I didn’t sweat quite as much as normal (though I did leave a puddle). I wasn’t as smooth, or as deep in the postures as normal (though I did them all). I wasn’t as focused as normal, losing my place in the sequence a couple of times (though any time I fell out I got back in).

And my poor old carcass, put through its paces on Wednesday night, was completely ready for today’s class. So, to you dear reader I say, mix it up, do exercises you like, try something new, try something old. Return to your favourites, but make exercise a part of your life. The benefits are manifold, and the changes persist.