Friday, July 11, 2014

That one time that I did "Restorative Yoga"

Being a cancer patient/survivor actually comes with some freebies.  That sentence sounds really funny.  Honestly, I have tried to take advantage of most of the freebies that go along with having cancer.  I figure that I may as well make the most of it.  Of course, I wouldn't have chosen this "cancer path" for myself.  Also, cancer is super-expensive, so the freebies, when you think about it, really aren't "free"--they come with the cost of having cancer.  Nonetheless, there are some cool things that great organizations offer to people like me.

The Austin area YMCA partners up with the Livestrong organization to provide cancer survivors with a 3-month family membership to an area YMCA.   During the 3 months, you attend a special class for survivors twice weekly.  However, you and your family can visit the gym as much as you want.  You can take as many other classes as you want, swim, or just work out in the gym.  It really is pretty awesome.  I actually started the program last fall, but then had to have another emergency surgery, followed by lifting restrictions.   Thus, I had to cease attending the program.  I was so thankful that they let me sign up again for the summer program.  

I have worked out every day this week, which feels pretty awesome.  Also, the kids had fun in their childcare program while I worked out.  It truly is a win-win for the whole family.  Yesterday, I thought it would be fun to try a Yoga class there.  By the time I arrived to the YMCA, I noticed the only yoga class that was about to start at that time was "restorative yoga."  I had never heard of that, but I thought I would give it a shot.   I went into the class with a picture in my head of the last yoga class I attended--this happened to be Bikram Yoga (a.k.a. hot yoga).    I pictured I would be sweating and would feel like I got a workout.  I pictured something like in the photos below...

photo courtesy of
That is the yoga I was familiar with and had done in the past.  But, instead, the yoga was more like this:

It began by the four of us class members laying there on the ground, on mats with a rolled up yoga mat along our spines.  I will admit, it did feel pretty good.  I figured we were probably "warming up".  After what felt like 20 minutes, I looked at my watch.  It had been 17 minutes that we were just laying there in that same position.  I am pretty sure looking at our watches was forbidden.  Oops.  The instructor was covered up in a blanket in the front of the class, in the same position.  She was a really good instructor.  But, did I sign up for a nap?  Apparently so.  She would try to guide our relaxation, by saying in a very low, calming voice, "think about your 3 selves:  your body, your breathing and your thoughts.  Stay in your body.  Now think about your breathing...think about how the air going out is warm and humid."   Later, she had us focus on our thoughts.  She told us to "push your thoughts away.  Allow your body to completely relax."  It really was pretty relaxing.  But, if anyone I knew was in that class, I know I would be laughing hysterically.  I am not the type that likes to sit still.  Especially for that length of time.  I guess in that way, it was good discipline for me.  

We finally moved into a new pose and stayed there for 20 minutes.   I am not lying when I say that during the entire hour long class, we did 4 poses.  And we never once got up on our feet.   During one of the last poses, as I was laying there on the yoga mat, I felt something tickling my arm.  The instructor was telling us in her relaxed calming voice to take control of our thoughts.  All I could think about was that little hair-like thing on my mat that was tickling me.  Being only one of 4 class members, I knew if I moved the instructor would notice.  I could already tell she felt like I was too distracted.  I actually wondered if the tickling was just in my head.  But, I couldn't take the tickle any longer.  After I felt something biting my arm, I jumped up and noticed it was a spider.  A spider was biting me as I was laying there.  I am sure that my little dance on the yoga mat was distracting.  I grabbed one of the foam support blocks and killed the spider then I got back into position.   I wanted to explain to everyone what was going on, but that would have ruined their "mojo".  The room was dark, with some light music playing (with singers moaning in a language I didn't understand).  Other than that, it was absolutely quiet and still.  I could hear the clock on the wall ticking--that is how quiet it was in there.   I so wish I could explain that a spider was biting me.   And then, it appeared to be over as the instructor got up into a seated, meditative position and said, "Namaste."  I guess our nap was over.  

And that is the story of the one time that I did "restorative yoga."  I think next time I will try regular yoga, or even the family yoga.  Although, I have a feeling that if I did yoga with Luke (4 yo) and Abbey (2yo), there would be another blog post that would follow.  :-)  

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