The thing I really love about a Vinyasa class is the combo of movement with breath. The energy flow that happens in that practice is the thing that always brought me back to my mat. Now, my practice has to be more static to protect my neck. Repetitive forward folds no longer work for me.
But I miss the flow.
In high school I loved to run, but didn’t do it very mindfully, and always wound up with shin splints. It was the same movement/breath aspect that I loved in running though. Running to me was a moving meditation (before I knew what meditation was). A couple of weeks before my accident, I’d actually bought expensive new running shoes. I was going to give it a go again, this time more carefully, perfecting my stride, my foot strike, yada yada. Since the accident, I’ve been warned against running, it being too jarring and compressing for my neck. So the car wreck not only took away my Vinyasa, but also any hope I had of rekindling a love of running.
One day, thinking about all this, the idea of swimming came to mind. A friend had suggested it before, but I’ve never been very good at it. I can swim well enough to get from A to B in the water. I won’t drown, but I never perfected the strokes, never could quite get the breath right. I had lessons when I was four and once I could doggie paddle well enough to save my life, that was that. As a child, I actually thought I could swim well, until I went to a week-long summer camp and they put me in the “sucky swimmers” group and I wasn’t allowed the privileges of the good swimmers, I had to stay in the shallow end. I was shocked, and embarrassed.
So now, at the ripe ole’ age of 49.5 I’m teaching myself to swim to supplement my yoga practice with a program called Total Immersion. I’d heard about it on a Tim Ferris podcast, where it was mentioned in passing.
I’m really lucky that my neighborhood has a beautiful pool, and I’m in Florida so I can use it year long. I’m learning to get “slippery” in the water. The first couple of drills have me on my back in the water, looking up at the clouds, breathing. I’m just getting started, but have already learned a lot. So far so good.
In the meantime, this exercise (taught to me by my wonderful new physical therapist Meredith Weiss) allows for a feeling of flow. I’ve been using it as a warm-up in many of the yoga classes I teach. Maybe you’d like to try it too.