Some stupid jokes before I go on a yoga rant

This is a weird post to make because it should be a good thing, but it really just kind of pisses me off.

The Situation:

the-situation-jersey-shore-getty

Timely jokes. I bring all the funny.

The lead-up to today’s yoga class had a lot of classic markers for “things are gonna suck.” It had been almost a month (4 weeks, to be specific) since I’d gone to a yoga class and 3 weeks since I’d done yoga at all. In the interim, I’d been very inactive because of rogue neck pain and the holidays (a different pain in the neck).

A long layoff from ashtanga and yoga in general isn’t good, but that wasn’t even the main problem. What was? Leg day.

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When I lift, there’s no true leg day because I don’t go often enough for only one area of work. Every lifting day is leg day. This one just happened to include squats after a long break from them. Nothing crazy, but my legs were dead this morning.

Legs are shot? Shoulders are tired? Long break from class? All in all, this is a recipe for disaster. My expectations for class were pretty clear:

And forever my favorite thing about this video will be the person who clicked play in their office with the speakers on.

I’m getting off topic.

squirrel

But yeah, I was expecting to ride the struggle bus in class. You can also add that there were flurries while I was driving in and class is heated to 90 degrees. Just a weird day.

And what happened? Nothing really. And that was the disappointing part.

My legs feel like crap. My shoulders aren’t feeling fantastic. And I did every vinyasa for class (including more than what the teacher had set out for us). And I feel fine. Bleh.

I was expecting to feel dead. And nothing.

Optimistically, it’s just me being in better shape. Despite being heavier than I should be, I’ve been lifting consistently and doing yoga just consistently enough that some progress should be expected.

But I’m not an optimistic person.

No, class was just a bit off.

Maybe it was the students.

When I got there, someone was waiting in their car even though it looked like the teacher was already there. That’s weird. And with it being so cold that polar bears noped out of that situation, I thought we might be the only two people in class, so I set up in the front so as to not awkwardly set up in the back for no apparent reason. After a quick restroom stop (nothing is worse than doing twists with a full bladder), I get back in the room to find that class is now as full as I’ve ever seen it. Guess some folks are starting early on the new year, new me business (all kidding aside, they seemed to all be in good shape, and I’m just angry my body isn’t dead-tired from class. I have issues).

So class was full and I was in a spot in the room I’m not used to, which messes with me more than it should, but you know, that wasn’t really the problem.

It was the teacher. It’s always the teacher.

I can take a crappy class with a good teacher, but I will avoid a bad one like the plague.

What’s handy is the studio has an up-to-date listing of classes with the teacher. This is how I see them cancel my class half the time less than 24 hours before it’s supposed to be taught. But the teacher listing only works if it’s accurate. This class lists the same teacher each time. Of the 7 times I’ve gone, that person has taught it once or twice.

In other words, the picky yogi goes in blind every week.

Luckily, the other two people who’ve taught it so far have been great (and I actually like them better than the listed person).

No such luck this week.

It was a new person. Not inherently bad because everyone is new to me here, but man did I get a bad vibe off her. Not like bad-person vibe but more a we-aren’t-going-to-get-along vibe. Wrong energy. For someone with a Ph.D., it feels really weird to type that, but that’s the only way to describe it.

I’m guessing you know what I mean. You meet someone, they seem like a nice person, and you know 100% they’re not someone you should be around.

But the nice thing about ashtanga is that it’s technically supposed to be the same thing every time, so the teacher difference gets mitigated. Now practically speaking, it isn’t. Each teacher focuses on their own thing (breathing, core, etc.) and each class only gets most of the practice because 90 minutes isn’t enough time unless everyone in the class knows what they’re doing and we’re not pausing for instructions. But all in all, you know what to expect from class.

Despite doing this same practice for two years, today still threw me off. There were the times she skipped poses. There was the time she added a non-ashtanga pose in. There was skipping the vinyasa between sides once we were seated (these are the bonus ones I did that I had to fly through for reasons to be explained).

All of that? I could live with. No, the thing that drove me insane was her version of counting.

Generally, yoga is done by breaths. In most classes, you won’t really notice it, but every ashtanga class I’ve done has been paced that way, whether the teacher emphasizes slow breathing or letting people go at their own pace.

It started weird. In the sun salutation series, we did three rounds that seemed fairly normal before she wanted us to slow down to a 4-count for each breath. Ok, that’s fine. You want us to slow down. That’s going to hurt, but I get it. So 3 regular, 2 slowdowns for A and B. Weird that we didn’t just do it the whole time, but maybe it’s to get us to used to the movement before focusing on breathing.

Nope.

Things just got weirder. When we were doing the rest of the series, she was working off a 5-count. That gels with typical ashtanga. You do 5 breaths for each pose (mostly). Except her version of the 5-count was paced the same as a 4-count for each breath (i.e., 5 counts, not 5 breaths). This meant that we were in each pose about two-and-a-half breaths.

And this is why I had to rush vinyasas  when we were switching sides in the seated part or I risked missing the pose.

There were other quirks, but they’re not worth mentioning. The counting system was… different.

I’ll avoid that teacher forever. Just kidding. I’ll have no effing idea when they’re teaching because I don’t know their name because they don’t update the online schedule and even if I knew their name, it wouldn’t matter because THEY DON’T UPDATE THE ONLINE SCHEDULE.

I’m gonna watch Netflix now. Happy New Year, party people. I swear I’m not actually that angry, just restless.

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The Highlight of My Weekend

At some point yoga became the highlight of my weekends. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It was just supposed to be something that I happened to do.

But it wasn’t just something that I did. In Starkville at Firefly Yoga, it was taking away my mornings. In Stillwater at Red Earth Yoga, it steals the middle of the day. I was having to dedicate real time to these things.

I didn’t realize what would happen as a result. Ashtanga is a special kind of evil yoga that goes after pretty much every muscle, even ones I didn’t know I had.

Because I couldn’t lift after a shoulder issue kept me out of the weight room for a while, I quit the gym in Mississippi and was left with yoga as my only real source of upper body strength training. For the most part, that’s not going to cut it. Ashtanga disagreed. More specifically, 58 vinyasas disagreed.

I almost threw up the first time I went to an ashtanga class. This was something I had to take seriously.

I started making sure I was prepped for class. I generally wouldn’t run the day before class. I was getting a good night’s rest. It was still kicking my ass, but I was getting used to it.

Flash forward to the move, and I had a new studio to acclimate to. I had the luxury of a weekend ashtanga class again, but I had to deal with it a new time, a time I didn’t want to spend sweating on a synthetic mat.

After a few weeks of procrastinating, I finally made it in. I then proceeded to attempt dying after 90 minutes of 90-degree yoga. It was brutal. I was wiped. But I made it. And that’s what matters.

I’ve been back a few more times, and as I’ve acclimated to the heat, I’ve started being able to make it through class somewhat successfully. A few weeks ago, I was able to do all but a couple of the vinyasas available to us. Last week I did them all.

Crap. You know what that means. Time to make it harder on myself.

Once I started doing ashtanga here, I went from 3 weight room sessions to 2 so I could have the rest before masochism took place. It was working. I was about as fresh as I could hope for going into ashtanga, but now that I’m no longer dying, I decided that lifting the day before might not hurt so bad. I took it relatively easy, but I was still lifting. I woke with sore shoulders that were bound to appreciate all the vinyasas I could throw at them.

And I threw the vinyasas at them. I lucked out. The studio was in the 60s when we arrived because someone turned the heater off (the windchill hit low 20s this morning), so it took a while for the studio to heat up. My shoulders still hate me, but I survived again.

So in the middle of the pie-eating contest that is academia (and the prize is more pie), I keep adjusting my week around 90 minutes in a musty studio.

And I’m cool with that.

Adios, dorks.

-Q

I’m making progress? I’m making progress

The first time at the real yoga studio killed me.

The second time also killed me.

The third time killed me, but it took longer to pull off.

That’s progress, right?

While I’m used to getting in the swing of things, I didn’t expect to get into the swing of things this quickly, especially in a heated class where we’re going all the vinyasas for the sequences that we do (I’m guessing about 6-10 vinyasas missed today, but that’s the most I’ve done).

I’m still soaking through my shirts. The first session was bad enough that I’ve started taking a spare shirt to switch into afterward, and I’m putting a towel underneath me to avoid getting my carseat sweaty (not working well enough).

I say that to say this: It’s still hard. I’m still sweating profusely, but I’m hanging in there.

And why? Lifting.

That’s the only logical answer.

I’ve overlapped with lifting and yoga before, but usually it’s one or the other. For the first time, I’m able to do both (in part because I have to from the knee issue). And for the first time doing ashtanga, I’m able to lift at all. I started doing ashtanga after my shoulder kept me out of the weight room. Now I’m lifting during the week, which makes all those effing vinyasas a little more bearable.

In an ideal world, running would be added to the trifecta. Weights are getting me through the movement, but I need better cardio to sustain 90 minutes of 90-degree heat and about 50 vinyasas.

But progress is progress. I’ll take it.

Progress Report: Weight Rooms & Dying in Yoga Studios

It’s been a little bit since I checked in, so I thought I’d share what’s been going on:

I haven’t fallen of the weight lifting wagon yet, which is good, especially if a 45-pound plate falls on you on the way out. I’m taking it relatively easy, not adding too much weight. I’m going for higher reps more so than anything else. Still legs as priority, with some upper body and core work thrown in so that I can ogle myself in the mirror.

Side note, I’m not historically a headphones while lifting person. I didn’t see the point. But then I bought wireless headphones for running only to find out that I wasn’t going to be running any time soon. Hated for them to go to waste, so they make the trip to the gym. That said, I’ve been listening to podcasts (and one audiobook) instead of music for the most part. It’s been a good way for me to stay caught up on my backlog of episodes. 99% Invisible, Nerdist, and Revisionist History are my go-to podcasts in case you’re looking for something to listen to.

As for running? Like I said in the last paragraph, I’m still not running. Enough said.

And I finally made it to the yoga studio in town. I’d made it to three rec center classes at the university gym. That was… interesting.

The first class was terrible. Calling it yoga is a bit of a stretch. Derogatorily, I’ve seen it referred to as McMommy yoga before. Basically, just exercising on a yoga mat. The second class was better, but that was a low bar to step over. The poses were on point, but they were out of sequence and the teacher was giving bad instructions. The third was much better, though she would hold the counts too long (it was fun to watch people collapsing into child’s pose because she would say 1, 2, say something for a count or two, 3, 4, 5). It was fine, but the class is still too short and there’s too much risk or spending time on my knee or getting stuck in pigeon for 5 minutes, which I can’t really do.

So rec center is out unless I’m desperate. That means I’ll be at the real yoga studio immediately, right?

Well, no.

There’s a problem: The studio’s schedule is a bit wonky, and the class I want to take is taught at noon. That’s after I want to eat lunch. Starting a 90-minute class then is less than ideal. Any productivity that’s going to happen has to happen before yoga, which is just weird. I’ll adjust. Eventually.

But I made it today. I’ll call it generally a win. It’s ashtanga, which I know I can do. The teacher was good, so I know I have a person I can go to as a teacher now. And most importantly, it’s off campus to lessen the risk of running into my students, thank you very much.

That said, it’s not all good. Again, the time is awful. Can’t get around that. Eventually college football games will actually interfere. Next, you can’t trust the website to be up-to-date enough to have the person who will be teaching listed. That’s problematic when you’re as picky about teachers as I am (so I don’t actually know the name of the good teacher I had class with today).

As for what happened when I actually got there, we’re now nitpicking. The place is carpeted, so it was a bit on the smelly side because it’s a yoga studio. Also because they heat the class to about 90 degrees. That causes a lot of sweating. So much so that I went through a liter of watered-down Gatorade and soaked through my shirt so much so that it was actually dripping by the end. Not a good smell. First time I was in danger of ditching my shirt in a yoga class. Nobody wants that. Not until I drop about 20 pounds, at least.

And most vainly, I was the worst person there. That’s not new. I was the least capable in ashtanga at my old studio, but this was amped up. Everyone (except maybe one) was either a yoga teacher or in teacher training. The class was more advanced as a result, so instead of floundering in my own sweat like I would have anyway, I was floundering in my own sweat as other people were fairly comfortable going much further than I could.

But all in all, it was a win. I have a studio to go to. I had Whataburger afterward. And I worked hard enough today to not feel guilty for not working out tomorrow. I’ll be happy to move at all tomorrow.

Pizza for 29 Vinyasas

Today was not a day for good decisions. It started with a late awakening, which was chased with Chick-fil-A for breakfast. Then I chased that with a 20-ounce Coke.

Not the best part of waking up.

Between the late start and then some packing I was doing at home, I missed my normal lunch hour. At this point, I realized I wanted pizza. Not like a slice or two. I wanted A pizza, not SOME pizza.

That’s also a bad idea. If you’re keeping score at home, I currently have diabetes. I don’t actually have diabetes, but at this rate, I’m not sure how I don’t have diabetes.

I made a deal with myself. Yoga for pizza.

I’ve been having trouble making it through full sessions since I returned from a trip a couple of weeks ago, so I was going for it as best I could. No pizza unless I was sweat-slicked.

Once I was covered it sweat, the deal was the rest of the workout was for me. Every little thing I could squeeze out of the workout, I was doing for me.

Of course, I was exhausted at this point. I’d eaten a decent breakfast, but that was about 4 hours prior, and I had a lot of caffeine in my system (for me) to spike my hunger. I’m dripping sweat, and I’m shaking as I did what I could.

And so it goes. I took a cold shower to help cool me down more quickly, and then I ordered my pizza (medium, thin crust, ham, spinach, and tomato).

Protect your loved ones

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Usually, I’ll split this into two meals. Not today.

Pizza never stood a chance

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I devoured that sucker. And I’m honestly still a little hungry. But Chick-fil-A and pizza were plenty, so just the two meals for me today. Let’s talk about why.

A relatively conservative calorie estimate still has me over the 2,000 calorie threshold. And most of it was crap.

For the yoga, 350 calories would be a generous estimate of calories burned, and that’s probably more than what actually occurred.

So did the hour of yoga justify the pizza? Nope. Not even close. That’s not how this works. Even if I did the yoga, it doesn’t entitle me to anything. The pizza just negated the work I put in. A good decision doesn’t negate a bad one. This isn’t a balancing scale.

But that wasn’t really the point. I was going to make a bad decision. I could feel it. I didn’t really do yoga to earn the pizza. I did yoga because I was going to eat something awful anyway, so I might as well do some damage control.

So 29 vinyasas for more than a thousand calories on that pizza.

29 vinyasas to leave me exhausted. 29 vinyasas to leave me covered in sweat. 29 vinyasas to feel in my shoulders tomorrow.

It’s the repetition. The pizza was going to happen because I’m stressed and I was going to make a bad decision. Yoga at least grounded me a little so that I wouldn’t feel like an entire sack of crap, just half a sack of crap. Because I know what I’m going to do with ashtanga every time, I can soak it in. There’s no intellectual load. It’s just movement. And breathing. Lots of breathing.

And hopefully I’ll do it all again tomorrow.