Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Apparently I'm some sort of mutant.

So I'm four weeks into a six week intro yoga class. I let my instructor know on the first day that I have carpal tunnel issues and needed modifications for anything that normally calls for pressure on the wrists. No downward dog for me, I do a dolphin pose. Planks on my forearms rather than my hands. And so on. I'm working on it, learning to balance, strengthening my pitiful core muscles. And anything that involves my super tight hamstrings, I have problems with. But I hope to improve that, too. However, other things seem to be easier for me. I became aware of that when we did the child's pose, which basically involves kneeling and then lying over your thighs with your arms stretched out ahead of you on the floor. As our instructor talked about breathing and deepening into the pose, I got confused. I looked around to see some people had space between their rears and their legs.  Me, I was like a rag doll, fully collapsed onto my legs, face on the floor. I could sleep like that. 

But I realized I was constructed differently than most people when we learned this (image found on the web) - the malasana or garland pose.  It is basically a squat with your heels flat on the floor and hip-width apart, toes pointing out on a diagonal. You bring your torso forward to press your arms against the inside of your knees, with your hands in a prayer position.  The idea is to have your chest open and back straight. Go ahead, try it. I did, and then looked around the room. After trying a couple of adjustments, I said, "Um... is my butt supposed to be touching the floor? I don't think I'm doing this right." The instructor suggested I open my chest more to make sure my back wasn't rounded. Done. Butt still touching the floor. Now everyone was looking at me from their own squat. One woman says, "You know, I think you're longer here (gesturing from hip to knee) compared to here (knee to ankle) than everyone else." The instructor leaned forward to study me saying, "Oh, interesting. That's really interesting." While the rest of the class nodded. I said, "Okay, good to know I'm a freak of nature.  Moving on."  

40 comments:

  1. Hard to tell from this if the class was nice or actually enjoying the freak show. I would be dropping that abuse class if they were mean about it.

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    1. Oh, the folks and the instructor are all very friendly. There's nothing remotely abusive about it - it was funny.

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  2. What's that pose they have you do at the end of class---when you're all warmed up and exhausted? Yeah, that one---savasana maybe? That's my favourite! I've been known to fall asleep. Same problems here with the wrist. Doing the modified versions make me feel (and probably look!) like a duck! But dignity be damned, yoga rocks!

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    1. Shavasana - corpse pose. My favorite, too! Especially when the instructor comes around and rubs everyone's shoulders - pure bliss! And I don't care if I look different if it saves my wrists from further injury.

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  3. That is interesting. There are so many variations when it comes to the human form.

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  4. as someone who completely demolished my left wrist 7 years ago (2 surgeries, hardware in then out, not expected to regain full use) allow me to say i am delighted to be able to do yoga and get through it. sometimes i need to use a wedge, which helps my wrists, sometimes i do the modifications you speak of, sometimes i am able to do as everyone else is...it just depends on the day and how much hand work we do. my teachers have also been very careful to let me know what correct form is so if i do the full version i am doing it correctly. fingers wide, first joint of the index finger pressing into the mat. also for downward dog you learn really quickly to keep the shoulders very open and shift some of the weight to your legs (sometimes knees bent) so the hands aren't bearing the brunt. the wedge tough can be very helpful while building strength. i just slide it under my mat and then the hands are not at a 90 degree angle when you do something like cat/cow.

    anyway, mutant or not (and we all are in some way) i'm glad you're having fun with it. i love it and i think we can all agree savasana is the best!

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    1. I read a book about Yoga as Medicine and in the chapter on carpal tunnel syndrome, it said to never, ever do the poses where you put your weight on our wrists - not with edges or blocks, not with the knuckles pressing in (she showed us that, too), not EVER. Or I'll end up having to have the surgery I've been avoiding for years. It's not enough with CTS to just have the hands not nearing the brunt, they need to be bearing no weight at all. So I've going with never.

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  5. ha....hey i always wanted to be a mutant growing up so consider yourself blessed....interesting mutation though...have not tried yoga yet...the premise sounds interesting...

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    1. It may be weird for yoga, but I usually get compliments on my legs so at least it's not an aesthetic mutation!

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  6. "I said, "Okay, good to know I'm a freak of nature. Moving on."

    Noooooooo...you're not a freak of nature, you're just 'special' and 'unique.'

    Do you know which yoga pose I have the hardest time with? The 'tree' - standing on one leg, while the other is tucked under your groin and arms outstretched above. Some days when I do it I topple over on the floor. But then there are other times I can stand there for 10 minutes without swaying one bit. It's a pose that works to balancing you, so I guess on the days that I topple over, I'm not balanced - HA!

    And you know us Libras, it's all about achieving "balance."

    X

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    1. Yeah, I'm variable on the tree pose, too. We did a modified version of it while lifting dumbbells in Zumba and I rarely had problems there. I think the weights acted as distractions!

      And yes, I do want balance!!

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  7. LOL Not a mutant, just interesting. Oh and I so didn't get down on the floor and try that pose. Not at all ")

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  8. Yoga is a great practice for expanding one's body-awareness. Its good to be in tune with how your body is, and what it is capable of as well as its limitations. I wish I did yoga more religiously.

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    1. Hey, where've you been?!

      I have not been nearly as good about practicing at home as I wish, but my hope is that I'll get better about that.

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  9. And that is why I probably will never take a yoga class. I don't think I could do any of those positions gracefully. But good for you for keeping with it!!!

    betty

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    1. No one does them gracefully at first. That's the beauty of a beginnier class - you're all graceless together and everyone is nice about it.

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  10. Freaks of nature unite. Well, I think I'm a freak of nature but I won't know for certain until the specialist takes a look at me.

    And at least your genetic anomalies aren't working to kill you.

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    1. Yeah, I had to rely on the cancer for that!

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  11. I've wandered back into Tai Chi lately, loved yoga in my twenties/early thirties but body would not forgive me now. Unless it was yoga for whiners.
    XO
    WWW

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    1. I liked Tai Chi, it was just in an inconvenient location for me. And 50 may be a silly age to be starting yoga, but there were actually two women older than me in the class.

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  12. And you've just explained one of the multiple reasons I HATE yoga! I can't stand being in a class like that and having the instructor come over and try to 'help' only to realize, NO, this person physically can't do that!

    What cracks me up most is the talk about flexibility, like that is a skill that you gain by working on. Let me just say, I have never worked on it, but I can squat like the person in the picture for hours. It's called not having hips! And I have a daughter who can touch her toes in any position, while being the least athletic person you might know......she just has really short legs!

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    1. I was writing this tongue-in-cheek. The teacher was curious but totally supportive and friendly. She is not pushy at all and encourages not to hurt our selves and to modify as needed. I actually really like her - she's young and sweetly nonjudgmental. Seems like a good soul.

      Flexibility is partly just how you are built and partly something that can be increased somewhat. I have very definite hips, but can squat lower than that with zero discomfort. But not reaching my toes in unrelated to my leg length and due to excessively tight hamstring muscles. Something I've just always had. Helps me with running but not so much with bending over.

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    2. I knew you didn't mind about the teacher coming over. For some reason, I just don't like yoga, probably because I feel like everyone is looking at everyone else and being judgmental. I gave it a try for one year, thinking it would help with my blood pressure, but it just stressed me out!

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    3. I haven't gotten that sense in this class, but I don't really care what they think anyway. But I do like the teacher so much that I've already signed up for the second 6-week series.

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  13. Ha, tell me about it! Although I'm tall (6 foot) I also have very long arms and my arm-span is longer than my height. Which means I can not only touch my toes but put my palms flat on the floor. The long arm-span also led to me being tested for Marfan Syndrome (a heart irregularity), but thankfully I don't have it.

    I tried yoga a few times when I was younger but never took to it. Youthful impatience and lack of persistence, I guess. But I somehow never had the urge to try it again.

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    1. Marfan's is a connective tissue disorder, which can include heart problems. But good that you don't have it.

      I remember lying next to an old boyfriend once who was half a foot taller than me, but our legs were about the same length. It's funny how we can all be proportioned differently.

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  14. Huh, interesting. It's a position, except for the arms and hands pictured above, than many Asian women (and men) use for long periods of time, I've seen them waiting for a bus, eating, talking etc many times in Asia and SE Asia, feet flat, just as pictured. .

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    1. I've seen that, too - just the common way of hanging out in many Asian cultures. And I remember as a kid thinking that it was an impossible thing for me, because I was still basically sitting.

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  15. I used to do Body Balance classes - a mix of Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates but ended up with Sciatica so I had to give it up! I now just do Pilates (I have a Pilates machine at home) and Zumba.

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    1. I liked Tai Chi, but the class was too far away. There are modifications for back problems in yoga, but the teacher has to know what she/he is doing.

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  16. My knees would never allow me to do that. I suspect we are all mutants in one way or another.

    Flash 55 - Remote

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  17. LOL. I love the "moving on" comment. Yeah, we all have something freakish about us. I used to be able to do the splits, then simply rotate in place to go from facing one let to Chinese to facing the other leg. I can still do a lot better than anyone would expect of a fat old lady.

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    1. I could never do a split. But I could do that thing where you lie on your stomach and touch your toes to your head.

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  18. I totally want to crack all sorts of inappropriate jokes about your anatomy's flexibility here. But I won't.

    The yoga thing is awesome. I find it transformative, truly.

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    1. I know - there are times in class where I want to crack those same jokes. But I don't.

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  19. That's pretty funny. I've been doing yoga a few times a week too since I injured my aductus longus muscle. It's been wonderful. Like you, I have to be careful with some of the poses - warrior pose - but can't get enough of all those amazing stretches.

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    1. I like warrior pose. But freaking hate dolphin.

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