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Friday, January 8, 2016

30 Days of Yoga

I'm not flexible. At all.

The kind of "not flexible" where you think I'm making a joke. Okay, touch your toes now. Very funny, now actually try.

It's always been a little embarrassing when I find myself in the presence of other fitness-minded people. When we do a physical warm-up before a show, or I get invited to a yoga class, I'm always hesitant to even give it my pathetic effort, full of the knowledge that I'll be tapping my shins while everyone else is wiping the floor.

Recently, I came across an article from 2013 relating a study that found a certain gene, COL5A1, may be responsible for the inflexibility of certain people. What's more, the same study found that a statistically significant portion of good runners have this gene. The study did not suggest causation in one way or another, but it is certainly an interesting correlation for those of us who chuckle slightly to ourselves when the yoga instructor says "raise up halfway."

Whether or not I can actually blame genetics for my insufficient foldability (and I intend to), there are other facts that I've learned from my own experience (and every coach I've ever had). Cold muscles will get injured if you start too fast, and I often start too fast. Sore muscles feel better when I move and stretch them. And a strong core will help prevent injury.

I know, it's not rocket surgery. Everyone who has ever laced up shoes knows this. And yoga is a great way to do all these things.

So, I'm left with a dilemma. My choices appear to be humiliation in a room full of spandex-clad acrobats (insult) or spending at least a day a week with something hurting (injury).

Enter, the internet.

My wife found 30 Days of Yoga on YouTube from Yoga With Adriene. It's a series of videos, each offering different aspects of the yoga practice, ranging from 35 minutes down to under 15. It's a chance for me to work on my tragically nonelastic self without the self-consciousness of being surrounded by lots of folks who are good at it. And what's more, the teacher (Adriene, duh) is excellent at anticipating what it is I'm doing wrong.

For example, there are moments where she'll say, "Your shoulders will want to come up here, drop them down," and I'm almost always shrugging. It is so reassuring to find that the corrections being offered are not directed singly at me, and that the issues I have others have as well.

Now, I've only completed 7 days, and if the last two are any indication, it's not about to get easier. The series I'm doing was actually posted a year ago. She has a new one right now called Yoga Camp, which also focuses on the mental side of health. The videos seem to be a little longer thus far, though, so for now I'll stick with my beginner's plan. And, it turns out, she's in Austin, so one of these days, I may actually get up the courage to take a yoga class in public.

Maybe on day 31.

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