It took a little while after finishing treatment for me to feel like doing much. Even though I had endured chemo and radiation without too much drama or sickness, my body decided it wanted me to spend some time on my sofa, watching dvds, and not doing anything productive for a while. It felt good and I really enjoyed the quiet time without having to think about nausea patterns or doctor appointments. I don’t really have any obvious residual issues, other than my scar from my port still hurts at times.
Eventually, I knew I needed to do something with myself and decided to try taking some basic yoga classes. I did decently well keeping up, but it became very apparent that I was weak and my muscles would shake during any pose that required balancing or holding myself up on all fours. I took a break during the chaos of holiday sales season with the intention of returning once things calmed down.
During that time I was offered the opportunity to do cleaning at a local yoga studio in exchange for classes. I said yes. When I started looking into which classes I wanted to try I came across a yin restorative class. Reading the description, I knew it was the class I wanted to try first. It is a class that takes place down on the mat and involves holding very doable poses for longer periods of time. Transitions are slower and the emphasis is on deep stretching, or opening, affecting joints and ligaments. It is ideal for someone recovering from an accident or injury, or someone slowly trying to get back their strength and flexibility (or all of the above, like me). By the second class, I was addicted.
My instructor closes the blinds, dims the lights, lights candles, and plays music that is a combination of relaxing and gently stimulating. Before class, most students lie on their mats, quietly letting go of their day and the outside world. The mood is set. We use props and slowly move through poses as instructed. After class I usually feel as if I’ve meditated while enjoying a gentle workout, mixed with stretching away my sore muscles and stress. As cheesy as this may sound, I never, ever want to give it up. I kind of want to swear my undying devotion to my instructor as well. Yeah, I’m in love.
One of the things my instructor talks about with new students is the tendency to have emotional experiences during class. The work done can release stress or tension held in various parts of the body. Each person experiences the class differently, but for some it is very cathartic. Personally, there have been two or three classes where I found myself having intense emotions and was slightly tearful at the end. I actually didn’t want to get up off of my mat and just wanted to savor the moment as long as possible. I always am left feeling transformed in a way, but I can only describe the emotions I experience during these classes as a mix of happy, sad, connected, grounded, transported, joyful, and oh so very grateful, for everything in my life.
We are always in such a hurry – to finish our to do lists, to get to work, to make appointments, to make money, and so on. We rarely slow down during our day to day and most people are never able to get out of their head, even if just for an hour or so. It truly is a gift to be able to attend these classes and to let go of physical, mental, and emotional stress. I feel as if yin restorative yoga was the perfect activity for me and the connection I’ve made with my instructor is priceless. I feel stronger, happier, and more focused and relaxed than I’ve ever been. Yep, it’s a keeper.