I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I came home from work last Wednesday utterly drained and so blah-diddy-blah, I was actually in the throes of PMS. Once a month, usually a few days before my period arrives, there is “Tired Day,” usually in the middle of “Rage [I Hate Everyone] Day” and “Hungry [Eat All the Things!] Day.” No matter how much coffee I consume or how many hours of sleep I get, if it’s Tired Day, I will be on zombie mode.
My first instinct when I came home that day was to immediately put on my pajamas and go to bed. Screw dinner. After all, Hungry Day wouldn’t arrive for another 12 hours! But something inside of me persisted, urged me to at least try to do something physical. I knew better than to push it, and I had no intention of even lifting a dumbbell or holding myself in a chaturanga. Then I remembered the CD I had purchased at Rudy Peirce’s yoga workshop last month, an 80-minute beginner-friendly gentle yoga class. I had yet to try it out, waiting for the perfect moment when such a practice would be appropriate.
That moment had arrived.
The practice is s-l-o-w. Circa-2004 Jennifer would probably hate the CD and throw it out the window in favor of a hot and sweaty ashtanga class. The postures are nothing new, nothing crazy. There are many moments of stillness to allow for integration. We bend to the right. We hold. We breathe. We release. Repeat on the left.
I don’t know if it’s because I know Rudy from Kripalu, whether it’s because I swear his voice alters your brainwaves into a meditative state, or (shocker!) maybe I just needed this type of practice, but man, I felt goood throughout the entire CD, like I was giving myself some kind of yogic massage. Each breath, each stretch, each hold seemed to release a “stickiness” in me, sometimes a physical stickiness in the back or shoulders or an emotional stickiness. The more I followed Rudy, the clearer my foggy head felt, as though each posture were plucking a cotton ball from my brain.
How could it be that I came into this practice so tired, and yet the more I moved the more full of energy I felt? Not an “I’m-gonna-dance-all-night energy,” but just a “Wow, I-feel-alive!” kind of energy? I was moving from zombie to human with each asana, and I loved the feeling so much that when the first 40-minute segment ended (my original self-imposed endpoint), I let the CD keep spinning and continued into the next 40 minutes to complete the entire practice. I even sat in meditation for a few minutes after the CD slowed to stillness, compelled to work with this newfound energy for as long as I could.
Slowing down is difficult for me, and most of my life I always feel like I’m running late to something. For example, last night I went into Philly with my friend to see a show. The second we got off the train in the city, I began booking it to the theater. Now, give me some credit, it was mighty chilly outside and walking fast helped keep me warm, but for some reason I felt like we were running late to the show. The performance started at 7; we walked through the theater doors at 5:58. The box office hadn’t even opened yet. Oops!
I just have a tendency to want to be fast. I drove past a girl running through the park yesterday morning, and for a split-second I really, really missed running. It was cold outside, and the girl was dressed in her black running tights, an Under Armor mock turtleneck, and her winter running hat. I recalled running in the cold-weather months, how I loved that feeling of warming up by running fast on a chilly December morning. Man, to be fast again, I thought.
However, as much as it sucks to have hip issues, maybe not running is some kind of life lesson for me, an invitation to just slow down. Maybe my walking practice is supposed to be the Rudy Peirce version of running, a meditative practice in enjoying the breaths between each step.
Actually, were it not for my long walks, I would never have the time to listen to some of my favorite iPod selections. Through walking, I am given the opportunity to listen to Christmas carols as I stroll through neighborhoods lit up for the holidays and some of the most intriguing/hilarious/inspiring podcasts. Right now, I’m addicted to NPR’s Radiolab, where each episode covers some mind-blowing aspect of science that leaves your jaw on the floor. For instance, the other day I listened to a story on the origin of AIDS and its spillover into the human race, a frightening account of a woman with transient global amnesia who couldn’t form new memories beyond 90 seconds, and a poignant story of a young man named Kohn whose voice was significantly altered after a childhood accident.
Coincidentally, the title of that last episode?