Muscles are like rubber bands.
That’s what I thought about as I viewed the world slightly upside down as I reached back into downward dog while doing a yoga video this morning.
Some rubber bands are new, fresh, supple. They stretch and bounce back to shape with enviable resiliency.
Then there are some rubber bands that are old, stiff, and breakable, like if you were to try and stretch them around <whatever> they would just snap.
I haven’t done yoga in months.
Can you guess which kind of rubber band I feel like today?
I’ve been preoccupied with fun, active exercise; exercise that makes me feel like I can see the results immediately and am building up an amount of tolerance to activity I’ve never felt before. Run-walking (walking with running intervals), weight lifting, Zumba on my Wii consule.
I forget, as I’m sure a lot of us do, that stretching is a really, really important part of the process of Literal Body Building (in which we Chronics build a body we can live with through exercise and other healthy habits).
It’s not like I don’t stretch.
I mean, I do one of these on each side before I pop on the treadmill.
And I have a foam roller for rolling out the tightness in my quadriceps muscles afterwards.
(Ok, so yeah, I could use more stretching.)
I have a long history of doing yoga (I thought I was the most enlightened 12 year old ever because I “discovered” yoga and Pilates around the same time Madonna did in the early 2000s), though never particularly hard-core, mostly because of that whole “Postural” part of the postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome which means when I change my posture I get tachycardia.
I’ve always liked it though, and so go back to it often, though usually when I am in a period of not feeling so great and not being able to do much more than a few poses for exercise.
I tend to forget how important stretching is, no matter how I’m feeling.
This week, instead of my usual exercises with free weights on Tuesday/Thursday (I run-walk Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and “active rest”: read vacuum and grocery shop, on the weekends), I decided I needed to substitute yoga. I’ve been reading Runner’s World magazine, and it’s put the fear of tight hamstrings and torn ACL’s in me. I want running to be healthy for me, not a fast forward button to eventual muscle demise.
So, I fired up my yoga DVD, and vinyasa’d my way to inner peace and supple leg muscles.
Let’s just say my Warrior Pose series would have gotten me a dishonorable discharge from the Warrior Pose Yoga Army if there was one.
Just like run-walking and weight training made me realize there are about 92 muscles that I didn’t know existed in my arms and knees, going back to yoga after an extended break reminded me of another 92 muscles I didn’t quite remember having, who are now pretty cranky that I woke them up and forced them to move.
I am hoping that they get over themselves right quick, because I’d like to go back to that happy place of being able to touch my toes without grimacing.
Personally, I think the nicest thing about yoga is the philosophy behind it. Sure, it’s all well and good to be stretching your body, but what about your mind? I like vinyasa yoga because that it the type where you connect your movement and your breath. Inhale: reach up, exhale: forward bend, etc. It forces you to get in alignment totally. It’s the truest form of balance, when you can breathe and move easily in tandem. It takes me a while to get back to, but I’m always so glad that I do. It makes me feel that as much as I am coaxing my body into being flexible, I’m also coaxing my attitude as well. It’s literal Going-With-The-Flow.
And couldn’t we all use some more of that?
Do you do yoga, Chronic reader? Have you ever tried? If you are a POTSie with EDS, let me just go ahead and say that yoga might be Dislocation City for you, so please, please use caution if you’ve never tried it before!