Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The Best Calming Yoga (at least for me)
I have been doing yoga for about 2-3 weeks now. I can't believe myself. I am usually a giver-upper when it comes to exercise but this time it's different. I think it is because I don't consider it exercise but rather it's like therapy to me.
I have tried yoga on numerous occasions before. I remember my first experience. It was in a class at my gym where I went after work when I was in my twenties and was very out of shape (like now). I remember going into the class and trying to follow along. The instructor looked at me like I was the runt of the litter. He doesn't want to throw me out but clearly I was not going to make it.
That was many years ago and I've never stepped foot in a class since then and now I don't want to spend the money. I was in the library a few weeks ago and a Yoga DVD that featured a lot of stretching caught my eye. It was by Ravi Singh and Ana Brett called the Ultimate Stretch Yoga Workout.
I really want to be thin but I really want to be flexible too so I decided to give it a try and I kind of got hooked. I am not sure why but this style of yoga called Kundalini Yoga best suits me and calms me down.
It's not like any yoga that I've ever seen. There is no tree pose or downward-facing-dog here. In many ways there is a lot of resting and but also a good amount of strenuous activity - the kind that reminds you that you are very out of shape and old. But much of it is the practice of relaxation and there is a lot of stretching. The stretching hurts and feels good at the same time, much like marking a cross over a mosquito bite with your fingernail.
I had to also get used to interesting language being used by the instructors. There is a bit too much "spirit talk" for me. I don't know how else to describe it. There is also chanting and that took some time to get used to as well but I did it because they are the experts and I thought I should at least give it a shot and do the whole program.
What is Kundalini Yoga?
I am no expert but according to this page I found in About.com, Kundalini is about releasing untapped energy at the base of the spine. The focus is on breath and movement which is interesting since my panic attacks have a lot to do with my breathing. Kundalini is supposedly rather new to the west as it was introduced as late as 1969.
I like it because the breathing is mostly done through the nose so I don't have to fuss about inhaling and exhaling correctly. I also like it because a lot of the work is done with your eyes closed which adds to the relaxation and decreases distraction for me. Additionally, one of my DVDs that stars Maya Fiennes promises to detox my body. I don't know how this works but the DVD talked about how the exercises assisted your adrenal glands and my acupuncturist is always trying to fix my overworked adrenals.
Even though I am not ten pounds lighter, my body does feel better. My backaches are gone. I can bend down more easily and I do feel a bit more flexible. Additionally, I do feel very relaxed after I do it and my biggest change since starting Kundalini yoga is possibly my hair. Yes, my hair.
It may sound silly but I credit this style of yoga for finally allowing me to get up the nerve to dye my hair red. That's right, I'm a redhead now or at least a brunette with tons of red highlights. For the past ten years, I have had a box of red hair dye in my bathroom. It was always unopened. I had only tried doing it once but it didn't work because my hair is black so the red color didn't show up. I knew that I would have to lighten my hair first but that meant going to a salon and spending money and also dealing with it growing out. So this box of dye would sit in my bathroom for years, taking up space and accumulating dust and I'd never open it. Finally I would throw it out and a few months later, I would buy it again on a whim and let the process repeat.
However, this past weekend, I don't know what got into me. I just told Kai that I must dye my hair today and told him that he must watch the kids as I did it. I found a hair lightening kit in the drug store and decided to do it on my own. It took quite a bit of time and I was scared too. What if it came out terrible? I am not a hairstylist.
However, the results weren't that terrible at all. Overall, my hair is not exactly screaming, "I did this at home." Logan thinks it looks nice too. Kai didn't have a comment which likely means he couldn't care less or doesn't think it looks good but I LOVE IT! I finally finally finally jumped over this line. I know that I'll have to deal with the stage when it grows out but I will worry about that later.
Back to yoga: I am so glad I didn't give up on it. I remember a therapist told me to try it and so I tried doing it at home by watching a t.v. program but it was too hard and quite boring. I think that style was called Hatha Yoga. I guess that type of yoga is not for me.
Also, a real factor to this somewhat successful run with yoga is that I do it when I'm all alone and everyone is sleeping. I am still waking up at 3:30 am. No one bothers me at this time and I'm so grateful for it even though I get sleepy a bit here and there. I also like doing yoga after I wake up because it helps me get the kinks out of my body after I've slept for the night. I probably need a better mattress and better pillow but I have no more money so yoga will have to do the work for now.
Last pitch for yoga: I finally swam some laps in many many months of just swishing around the water with the kids. I expected to be out of breath after 2 laps as usual but I couldn't believe how strong I was! I looked at my body and all the flab was still there but still I noticed a difference in my breathing and tenacity. It's amazing that yoga can do that for you when I did no cardio or weight lifting in months. I guess like acupuncture, yoga will always remain a mystery to me. I guess I'll just have to have some faith and just keep at it.
Photo 1: Happy Lunar New Year to you all. For the Chinese (I'm Korean) this is an extremely important holiday. As a non-Chinese wife to a Chinese family, it can be a little stressful because women are the keepers of rituals and I don't know what these rituals are because I'm not Chinese! Koreans have their own rituals. My husband and I always get frustrated with each other this time of the year and no amount of yoga will change this stress. However, with each passing year, it does get better. Pictured here is Logan, Spencer, and Kai with Pork Chop dressed in a Chinese outfit. Spencer went crazy over Pork Chop. He kept laughing and if you see his teeth, you can tell he's very overstimulated. Poor Spencer. As he gets older, I can see his ability to self-regulate become increasingly challenged.
Photo 2: My new red hair in honor of Chinese New Year! Some people just wear red but I went one step further. Maybe my new red hair will bring me and my family luck this year.