6th April 2016
No, not that Mein Kampf. This is a polemic about yoga & pools not politics! Look away now if you were wanting a cheery hit of Hitler. However, if you want a discussion on water torture and eye gouging, you’ve come to the right place. Because that is what I endured yesterday.
But before we get into all the woe is me, and why can’t I remember to bring a change of clothes, rather than going in activewear that I’m then active and sweaty in, followed by flopping into the pool and then wondering how the hell I get home… let me tell you about yoga! Because yesterday, I yoga-ed. And even nearly forgot to dislike it and as a result, quite enjoyed it in places. SHOCKING!!
The thing with yoga is that is slow and still. And I don’t like slow or still. You have to contort your body. And my body does not like contortion. It has no flexibility. (Apart from my feet – let’s not forget that I have hyper-flexible feet). And I just don’t understand the whole concept of contorting into positions that are pretty uncomfortable to begin with and then staying there and counting breaths.
And more breaths.
And more breaths…
And still we’re holding the same uncomfortable position. And trying not to wobble. Or fighting a cramp that is threatening to engulf a muscle that feels left out, so has decided to rebel…
And more breaths.
And yes, you’re in the moment because bloody hell, will this moment never end?
Or collapse, (which is my favoured way of dismounting from a pose).
The whole class was structured around the piriformis. A good thing, as I have given house room in my butt to a piriformis, but it’s on some sort of permanent holiday. Which, as a long distance runner, is apparently quite surprising to physiotherapists… It’s supposed to do some of the work involved in running. Except mine doesn’t like to.
So, whilst the contortion felt quite weird and not necessarily wonderful, it was manageable. And didn’t disturb my recalcitrant piriformis, so that was good.
Until this morning. And OH MY GIDDY AUNT. Something happened down there, and my lodger is complaining bitterly. (I have shown it the spikey ball, and that has shut it up for now).
I even got the relaxing pose wrong near the end and had to have it adjusted. (The Grumpster’s eyes raised quite a lot when I told him the yoga teacher (male) spread my legs at the end of yoga…)
I don’t like the stillness. I laid there listening to the thud, thud, thud of the weights being dropped dramatically in the room above the studio. (Put your weights down gently, lifters, or use a weight you can manage!!) And then I heard what I thought was a snore. But surely I was mistaken. No. There it was again. And I thought about things. Like “why do I find is disconcerting to attend classes taught by men?”, “is my man-phobia why I haven’t joined a tri club?”, “why are there are no all-female clubs in Brisbane?”, “was that another snore?”, “why do I dislike being still so much?”, “why is it so confronting?”, “that is definitely someone SNORING!!!”, “is it time to get up now?” Yes, I struggle with the stillness.
And then, with an OMMMM it was all over.
At which point, I decided it would be good to do some moving. I like moving. Even if I’m rubbish at it and struggle a bit.
So into the pool I went. Which is when the next round of struggling started: just quite different in nature.
I had decided that I need to stop being so namby-pamby. If I want to really get out there and train for triathlon, I need to be able to swim front crawl. Continuously. No happy little breaststroke breaks in between. So my goal was to swim 200m of freestyle without any breaststroke breaks. I could have as much rest as I wanted, wheeze away, at the end of a lap, but NO BREASTSTROKE.
No-one was around when I got in there, so I took a selfie. As you do.
I swam a lap of breaststroke. JUST WARMING UP.
Then I swam a lap of freestyle. Stop, pant, decide whether I was dead, dying or dumb enough to give another lap a go. And so it continued. Very slowly. Not so much the actual lap, because you have to get to the other end as quickly as possible before drowning commences, so what speed you can muster is essential. But slow because I counted the rest period as part of the lap.
My goggles were having a rebellion. As soon as I got in they started sharing space between their lens and my lens with the rest of the pool. So I tightened the strap. So they started gouging my eyes out instead. We went back to sharing with the pool.
I noted, despite our falling out, the trick of smearing the lens with baby shampoo, leave 10 – 15 minutes, rinse and dry, had done a great job of preventing fogging. Only, then I realised sometimes that’s not such a good thing. As something suspicious floated past the outer edge of my goggles. And yes, there was a baby in the pool at the time…
I knew I needed to swim 13 lengths to get to 200m. (Which is what my new-best-friend-even-though-she-doesn’t-know-I-exist Meredith [Swim Bike Mom] says you need to be able to do to start proper official triathlon swim training). OK, so I have just this second realised that I needed to do 13 lengths. But I had told myself yesterday that I needed to do 13 laps (i.e. there and back, so 2 lengths). So I managed 13 laps, with GENEROUS rest breaks. So 400 metres!?! But then I figured 15 was a nice round number, so I swam to 16 laps on my watch. (Remember: the first lap was breaststroke). Then I decided 20 was a nicer round number, so I swam 20 laps. But then needed 1 more to make it up to 20 actual front crawl laps!! Yes, my arms had been replaced by pool noodles for the last 5 laps. But I actually did manage to keep going. Of a fashion…
Which, holy crap, means I swam 620m of front crawl yesterday.
I don’t know whether I was just trying to avoid interacting with my boy-child (not that there’s much chance of that if he’s got a computer in front of him) or what, but I decided I wanted to see what the gap was between my front crawl (allegedly the efficient way to swim) and my breaststroke. So then I repeated the 21 lengths (20 breaststroke: 1 freestyle). The first set took me 30 minutes. The second took 20. And I think I wrote about 17 blogs whilst I was at it. All in my head. Not on paper. That wouldn’t work. I was in the pool, remember.
That means I need to make up 10 minutes of anti-drowning time: the time I take to gulp and gasp for air and let my muscles recover from the horror that is freestyle. 10 minutes of struggle street.
So what did yoga teach me?
That stillness brings you closer to yourself. (It made me question if that’s something I struggle with and why I don’t like yoga/pilates as much as running or skipping or generally moving along). Maybe I don’t like being too close to me. Maybe I’m worried I won’t like the person I am if I get up close and personal. Will I find myself lacking if I stand still long enough to find out?
And I realised that movement, even when I might feel its a struggle, brings clarity of purpose. It helps work through barriers and enables new action. It prevents the mind standing still and peering back at the self. It’s always working on forward motion. Moving to the future.
This is what I thought in the quiet, philosophical spaces where I wasn’t being bombarded with sounds of snores and random thoughts.
Yes, my struggle is real. But I’m staying afloat.