June 3, 2013

My Yoga Back-up Plan. ~ Anne Samit

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I need a back-up plan for yoga.

I’ve hurt my wrist, and the doctor has ordered a month’s break from yoga.

I’ve been practicing almost three years, and this is the first time I will go without yoga for more than a few days in a row.

The anxiety is starting to build. I had myself on a full speed ahead yoga schedule, combining two types of practices at three different locations for a total of six times a week.

Coming to a hard stop seems unimaginable. 

With this news, I’m concerned I’ll lose my strength, the muscles I’ve been building. I’ll miss all the work I’ve been doing on my handstands, not to mention the other parts of my practice.

So, in light of these worries, I’ve decided on a new plan, something different and out of the ordinary—something that will set this time apart and move it along as speedily as possible.

This plan is to go outside, walk and even run, and then treat myself to some work on my forearm stand.

Most all of my yogi friends are runners. They run alone, in groups, in marathons and even in the mud.

Myself, I have never really run. I feel self conscious, especially outside.

But I long ago gave away my unused treadmill, even though it was great for hanging laundry, and so, this month, I’m outside in the evenings. And I start off with walking.

I’ve got on my headphones and chat on the phone until I find myself up the street, through the park and out of the neighborhood. By the time I’m done talking and turn around, the sun is on its way down and so am I.

It’s literally downhill the whole way home, and that’s when I pick up the pace. Under the cover of darkness, I turn on the music and go. By the time I reach my house, I have that same feeling that comes over me in savasana, or final resting pose in yoga. I’m energized, lifted and content. 

This is new for me, being outside.

Growing up, I danced a lot, and that was all indoors. In fact, I think that memory is some of what hooked me on yoga. I passed my dancing years on to my daughter and all the while she was growing up, she danced, too. She especially loved to tap, and she did so all the way to college.

It was always hard to find a place to tap at home. Mostly, she would tap in the attic, and I’d write the dates of her home performances in marker on the attic’s wooden floor while the rest of the family squeezed around to ooh and aah.

It wasn’t long before she outgrew the attic, and my father made her a portable wooden floor. This, we could put in any room and on it, she shuffled, step-ball-changed, brushed and flapped. There were more steps on that floor than anywhere else in the house.

In the years since, the floor has become one with a wall on the outside porch, leaning upright and gathering pollen and dust. When I got the news about my month with no yoga, I brought the floor in from outside and wiped away the intervening years. Once clean, I spread my mat overtop.

Each night after my walk/run, I come home to the mat on the tap board. I stretch into paschimottanasana, seated forward fold, and then into badhakonasana, seated butterfly pose.

And then I pop several times into pincha mayurasana, forearm stand. With no weight on my wrist, I am doing what I miss most, going upside down. 

And like the family with their oohs and aahs, I set up the video on my phone to snap a picture of my inversion. And like the dates marked on the attic floor, I number these pictures with the number of days passed, creating an illustrative countdown to what I hope is the go ahead to practice again.

It’s different, though. There’s no teacher telling me what to do next. There’s no heated room. There’s no group energy. I’m in it on my own, and it’s work to keep the worries at bay about whether I’ll still have my practice by the month’s end.

In my discussions with my instructor, I asked whether she had ever taken time off from yoga.

Yes, she answered, and I was stronger for it.

At the time, I thought she was talking about her body, how the rest had actually strengthened her muscles.

But, now that I’m in it, I think she might have possibly been talking about another kind of strength, the kind that needs to be summoned when it’s time to come up with a new game plan—when the one you worked so hard to put together is no longer an option.

This is the kind of strength I need to build because who knows when such skills might need to be summoned again?

For now, though, I’ll continue to tape those photos of my numbered forearm stands to the refrigerator.

That will help get me to judgment day.

And, after that, I’ll just map out whatever plan is next, preferably one that finds me back on my mat.


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Ed: Brianna Bemel

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