So, as part of my post-breast cancer surgery wellness, I’ve been going to rehab three times a week, but until last week I hadn’t been cleared to do any exercise beyond walking. My rehab therapists recommended that I start practicing yoga, but because I can’t do any weight-bearing poses, they suggested a type called “restorative yoga.”
Nah, you won’t be doing this pose in restorative yoga.
Never heard of it, but my family gifted me with some classes to Yoga Yoga here in Austin so I thought I’d give it a go. Finally! Getting back to being active again! I arrived at the studio early so I could talk with the instructor about what my physical limitations are at the moment. He was very gracious, said I was in the right class, and told me to go get 2-3 blankets, a bolster, 3 foam blocks and a belt. Huh?
Then as everyone was getting set up, he came over to me and asked if I was familiar with “the gongs and the bowls.”
“Okay, we do gongs and bowls in this class. Are you familiar with the chakras?”
“Sort of. No, not really. Well, I can name two of them.” (Yeah, pretty sure my Austin membership card is going to be revoked now.)
“Well, as I use the gong and the bowls while you’re holding poses, the sounds can get pretty loud and your chakras can open up and release energy. If you feel that happening, just take some deep breaths.”
I’m pretty sure I don’t know what it feels like for chakras to open up, but I’m confident in my ability to breathe deeply. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d gotten myself into. Chakras, gongs and bowls. Yikes. I was starting to be fairly judgmental about this class (okay, I called it “weird” in my head), so I chided myself into being more open to the experience. After all, it was all I was cleared to do at the moment, so I better wrap my head around it.
Nope. Not this pose, either.
Once I realized that I’d been comparing this class to my Gold’s Gym yoga class (aka “McYoga”), I almost laughed out loud. I’m not knocking Gold’s Gym — I’ve been a member for years — but they are better for cardio and weight training, not yoga. So I relaxed and tried to let my chakras do their thing, whatever that thing is.
It was amazingly relaxing — 75 minutes of holding various poses while the bolster and blocks support you and the gongs and bowls make their noise. I stretched and imagined my body getting better/stronger/healthier. It was good to get out and into a studio environment around other people, too.
Yep. Pretty much like this.
If you have had surgery, have any physical limitations or are going through treatment of any kind, please check with your medical team before starting any kind of exercise. But if yoga is on your approved list of things to do, look for classes described as “gentle,” “restorative,” “good for beginners” or “appropriate for all levels.” Hatha yoga is also a more gentle form of the practice, but whatever class you attend, be sure to tell the instructor what limitations or special considerations you have.
It may not be boot camp, and you may not break a sweat or burn a lot of calories, but try to start where your body is. Your illness or physical limitation makes you slow down and care for your body in different ways. There is, hopefully, time for weight training later. Today is about tending to your wellness and slowly building your body back up. Be patient.
Add take some deep breaths. Your chakras will thank you later.
I still don’t really know what they are.