About three months ago I woke up with a sudden and unstoppable desire to get active. From what I hear, this is pretty common after a breakup. During my lunch break, I would sometimes find I’d walked three miles thinking about absolutely nothing — and I had 15 minutes to get back to my office before my lunch break was over. When I was with my ex, I couldn’t muster the motivation to take a walk around my block, but suddenly, I found myself joining a weekend hiking club, going to Zumba three times a week, doing 10 miles a day on the stationary bike, swimming 100 laps, and yes, even doing 30 and 40 minute workouts on the stairmaster. I still feel that the stairmaster is the cruelest exercise machine known to mankind, but I have to admit there’s a special place in my heart now for this torture device. I think exercise was my way of coping with the breakup. Since I’m no longer an expat with plentiful free time, I didn’t have the luxury of staying in bed for weeks, eating Ramen soup, watching Law and Order reruns and feeling sorry for myself like I might have back in my younger, international-living days. And well, honestly, I wasn’t as sad as I thought I would be, but that’s a story for a another day.
When walking and weekend hikes were no longer enough, I joined the local rec center and have tried out a number of classes. While I love Zumba despite my utter lack of coordination, grace and well, dance skills, I haven’t found the same love with other classes. I couldn’t walk for two days after kickboxing and the instructor seemed to think she was Jillian from “The Biggest Loser.” Too angry for me. I fully intended to try a cycling class, but after seeing my fellow cyclers’ gear and physiques and studying the sleek, complicated-looking bikes, I pretended I had to go to the bathroom and never came back. But a few days ago, I decided to try Yoga (again) If you know me, you may know that Yoga is not a natural choice. It requires slow movements, grace, patience and an ability to put up with phrases such as “feel your body sinking into earth mother” or “feel the energy being released from your fingertips into the universe” in an enlightened, peaceful, non-sarcastic manner. However, because I have no muscles (I can barely do a push up) I decided to give it another try. I give yoga a try every year or so because I like the idea of being a yoga kind of person: Serene, health-conscience, flexible and patient. You know, like the kind of person who eats probiotic yogurt sprinkled with flax seeds, quinoa instead of rice, buys organic tofu, can do the splits and weighs 120 pounds. It all sounds so nice in theory — so unlike me. So a couple of days ago at Yoga, I felt great. I could do all the moves. Despite the instructor soothingly telling me to be one with universe to the zen beats of “Sounds of the Rainforest,” I didn’t roll my eyes or laugh to myself once. After looking around the room, I realized that I probably felt great because, if you didn’t know any better, you might think this class was titled “geriatric yoga” and was taking place in a nursing home. My fellow yoga-ers were mostly of the over 60 variety and Instructor Pacha Mama kept telling us what great work we were doing and how hard we were working even though we never once had to balance our whole bodies upside down on our heads. However, I still felt proud. No pain! No burn! I even touched my toes at one point. So I thought to myself, “Wow! I’ve really gotten in shape! Yoga no longer makes me feel like I want to cry.” I also felt superior, like maybe I should be in a more advanced class with yoga-ers of my own caliber.
But I was wrong. When I woke up the next day every muscle in my body hurt. Even my fingertips. So no, it seems my energy was NOT released into the universe. Oh well. Maybe next time. For now I guess I will stick to basic yoga.