Wednesday, March 08, 2006

first day of yoga

I woke up about an hour and a half ago after a much needed nap. Today was a very good day, but by the end I was more tired than I had anticipated.

This morning I participated in my first ever yoga class, which was very challenging at many moments but enjoyable. The class was held at The Bendheim Integrative Medicine Center, a holistic health center operated via Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where cancer patients and survivors as well as ordinary folks, I think, can receive a variety of physical therapy treatments, such as reflexology or massage, or acupuncture or take fitness classes.

I and a young woman joined the class today although it seemed like she had had some past experience in yoga. We joined the four regular members of the class - all elderly woman, who all appeared to follow the teacher's instructions well and in need of little help. I, on the other hand, had some difficulty following the steps of the variety of poses and was in need of her guidance at more than a few instances during the class. It reminds me of the time when I took a salsa class during which I had the most difficult time coordinating my body and following the litany of steps and movements. It was like I had two left feet. Nevertheless, like then I didn't give up this morning during the class and I gave it a gallant effort (although I must admit it that I never did learn salsa. I hope to have better luck with yoga).

I don't think the awkwardness of my experience was too different than most first-timers. Like anything, it takes time and I am sure as my mind and body become more familiar with it, I'll become more comfortable. I tried Pilates a couple of times in the past and parts of yoga reminded me of it. Like Pilates, it emphasizes the importance of breathing. This was the first time too that I had done anything remotely physical for several months, so my body was in for a shock. This was the case without even considering the fact that I had just undergone a stem cell transplant. It was clear to me that as I tried some of the poses my body wasn't quite able to follow through. And yes, it was a little frustrating to see that the elderly women in the class had more stamina than me to do some of the poses. But I wasn't too hard on myself. It was just an observation. Everything in small steps . . . small steps.

Afterwards, I passed some time in a nearby Starbucks and then, grapped a quick lunch before watching the documentary, Why We Fight.

Gilda's Club offers a free restorative yoga class too on Wednesday evenings and I had planned to try the class there, so that I could compare it with the one that I had tried earlier today. But after Why We Fight, I was pretty tired and realized that I didn't have sufficient energy left to participate in a another yoga class when my body was still recovering from the class earlier today. Thus, I decided to call it quits and come home.

The Bendheim Integrative Medicine Center offers another yoga class on Saturday mornings, which I plan to try this week. Next Wednesday I'll go to the one at Gilda's Club in the evening, so that I'll then be able to compare all the various classes and instructors and then, decide where I want to go from there on.

The important thing for me right now is trying to develop some kind of a daily routine. It's been great for me to get out of the house during the past week or so. It's actually liberating in a way. It's strange. I suppose that being in the hospital for 24 days straight and then, for another two weeks at home has made me eager to get outside more. I'm by no means rushing the process. I'm being cautious and taking my time, but I know that it's beneficial to me both mentally and physically to get outside despite the cold weather.


Comment Anonymous Brian said...

I have to say, the thought of doing yoga at a place called "Bendheim" makes me giggle uncontrollably. Then again, it is kind of early and I'm on a downchemo week.

Happy belated birthday too, by the way!

8:51 AM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

Hey Brian, you're not the only one who giggled. :) Thanks for the b-day greetings.


10:53 AM  
Comment Blogger brad said...

You're right, Pilates was based on yoga, so they are similar. It's good that you're going to try different yoga classes and instructors and see what and who you like. You're also right about the small steps in starting. New exercises take practice to get used to, so you're wise not to get stressed out about not being able to do everything right away.

5:32 PM  

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