September 2018

Post-vacation thoughts

Returning back to yoga after Summer vacation feels a lot like the first day of school.

I remember my crisply-pressed school uniforms, newly-sharpened pencils and plastic cases that held them. And the ritual of finding the perfect backpack each year (no laptops then!).

Thirty years later, I am carrying my worn leather backpack from college. I’ve replaced zippers and re-stitched the seams, but it fits and I have no desire to replace it.

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 10.26.33 AMNow that my 2-week summer vacation is over, I approach my well-worn yoga mat the way I do that leather bag. It fits. It is as welcoming as the return to sleeping in my own bed.

Getting back to classes, my students and my mat feels like a home-coming too. I’m ready for routine — at least mentally ready. Physically though…..

My hamstrings are tight, my back stiff and every pose feels like foreign territory. The back muscles I tweaked while “exercising” on the trip are talking to me.

My body is paying a price for all that vacation fun. Part of me wants to do nothing but just lie down on that mat. But as I tell students, just show up to your mat and see what happens. Just lie there and maybe the yoga will take over and you will do another pose, and then another. I am trying to take my own advice.

On another note, this morning a young student told me about a sciatica flare-up and tightness in her legs. She said she felt lop-sided and uneven.

I passed along a little bit of wisdom:  We are all lopsided!

One side of the body is a little different than the other. There are habits that create imbalances. And sometimes things get a little out of whack just from living your life.

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 10.33.15 AMWe can’t be on a yoga mat 24 hours a day, making sure we are straight and balanced. That would be insanity-producing. We live full lives, have fun, work, deal with life’s stresses.

I will talk about the stress of living another day. Today I focus on how even a fun vacation can stress the body.

During vacation I slouch. I sit more. Go to the theatre. Have a cocktail. And two of my favorite activites this year were hunkering over the Scrabble board and working crossword puzzles. I also indulged in dessert (including the best tiramisu I’ve ever had).

All that fun has left me a little out of whack, but it’s worth it. I’m fortunate enough to have a vacation. I’m lucky to be surrounded by good friends and family. I’m fortunate enough to be able to travel to see them often and occasionally over-indulge.

On the mat or in class, we try for ideal physical symmetry. But there is no perfection, only practice.

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 10.33.24 AMThe most obvious benefits of practice are the physical ones: relief from pain, feeling good and relieving stress — among the other benefits that are more subtle.

The important thing is just to show up.

Like the first day of a new school year, we get back to the yoga mat and find that it fits. Just like that well-worn Jansport backpack of yore.

Pictures from my trip:
Chicago Architecture Center boat tour
Iyengar Yoga Sarasota with my friend Sue Marcus (2nd from left) & her students
Egret on the side of the highway near my parents’ house