Thursday, November 19, 2009

Digging out of a Hole

[I wrote the stuff below a couple of weeks ago. Even though things are sort of getting moving again in the BFFC, I still think there are some good things in there so decided to post anyway. More current update soon.]

After my previous anxious musings about Chronic Fatigue Immunodeficiency Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, I was hoping I’d have something cheerful to post. However, other than dragging myself off the Big Poofy Chair yesterday afternoon for a 20 minute amble around the neighborhood, there hasn’t been much going on to inspire anyone. I’ve been tired, fuzzy-headed, stiff and a little achy, unable to muster any enthusiasm for movement. Last week featured a number of meetings and a visit to my folks that led to me driving to the office, so I didn’t even have my commute exercise to keep me going.

I need a plan. I feel my Big Fat Fitness Comeback is going into reverse, and I need to put the brakes on that momentum and then turn it around. I need to find a way to energize myself without injuring myself, and do something physical where I can see quick results and feel better.

I think I need yoga.

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with yoga. Over the years I have taken some classes and, thanks to some outstanding instructors, really enjoyed almost all my experiences. Christa Rypins, in particular, was patient, humorous, challenging, and very Zen without being all Zennier-than-thou about it. (One of the things that irks me about yoga is the hippy-dippy over-earnestness of some practitioners.) I especially enjoy the way I feel after the yoga is done: all long and loose, balanced and relaxed. And exhausted, generally. I think the breathing and meditative aspects of yoga are incredibly good for you, and the stretching and strengthening is fantastic for injury prevention in other sports, including the cubicle-computer ultrathons in which so many of us overindulge.

So why don’t I do yoga all the time? Excellent question. It’s always been one of the things I planned for myself when I got to be a certain age. I believe that regular yoga practice is probably the best possible way to help your body fend off the aging process. I think there are three main reasons why I’m not a yogini:

  1. It feels static. Even though much yoga is a fantastic workout, you do the whole thing in two square meters worth of space and your only views are of other people’s butts or your own knees or feet. One of the things that I love about exercise is the sensation of movement through space. Even swimming laps feels more interesting to me than holding yoga poses.
  2. It requires emptying the mind. My mind likes being busy. Probably too much so. Even though I recognize that I really benefit from the focus on nothing but the breath and the sensations of the poses, it doesn’t attract me.
  3. I kind of suck at it. I know this hasn’t kept me from being a triathlete in the past, but when there are already other factors at work, the sucking just kind of piles on. I’m not naturally flexible, and my body shape makes a lot of poses difficult or impossible. There are ways around all that, modifications and so on, but yoga brings you up close and personal with your own fat in ways that can be physically and mentally uncomfortable.
However, it’s time for me to suck it up and do some downward dogs. The downward dogs and I need to get reacquainted. Watch this space.


  1. You know more than I do about this. (You -book. Me -still fat AND no book.) But I am using yoga as the centerpiece of my comeback. This comeback is the slowest boat to China there EVER was, but it's working. My body is waking up, and I'm starting to enjoy being "embodied" again. Forward motion can't be far behind.

  2. I love yoga but not all people do. Have you tried other things that would get you the same results. Tai Chi or quigong? Maybe pilates or piyo?
    either way quieting the mind is always great for me, like you, I have to have a busy mind. Always doing something.
    Good luck I love your writings they are so inspiring!

  3. Yoga sounds like a great idea. I've had problems with its "fun-factor" but got alot of benefit when I went to classes for a couple of months. I did tai chi briefly. It's complicated but very gentle. Your BFFC is inspiring and I'm rooting for you!

  4. Okay, I love yoga, but unfortunately I have the same issues with it that you do. Like I suck at it and my body isn't built for it. Recognizing that I feel better when I do it than I do when I don't, I try to do it. But, honestly I can't abide the classes. I bought An a.m. p.m. routine for beginners DVD. I pop it in in the morning and most evenings. I still suck at it, but I do feel better when I do it. Why can't I abide the classes? Well like I said I suck at it and body isn't built for it.

  5. I am not a yoga fan. It's slow; I'm clumsy; and yoga people smell weird. So it really irks me that when I do make myself do yoga I feel so great afterwards. But I couldn't do it in public - no way. I have a super video by Sage Rountree. (I know - she has SUCH a yoga person name - and she's a stick figure to boot, BUT I know her in real life. Not only is she truly nice, she's also a triathlete and coach. Her yoga for athletes is the only yoga practice I can tolerate.) If you want to try out her style she usually has free video podcasts on her website. Good luck with bringing the bendiness back!

  6. Oh yoga. Lovin' that you looked at why you're not a yogini.

    Being a fat chica, yoga makes me feel strong. I always thought I had more balls than then skinny chics (no offense to my slender sisters)- but they didn't have to show up to the work out in layers of extra fat. It helped that I wasn't flexible enough to get to the point where the fat was super in the way- except child's pose.

    What killed it for me is that I kept falling asleep at the end of class. And super paranoid that I'd snore.