Muscles And Poetry, Poetry And Muscles, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:42am


I had a great yoga class yesterday.

Which is by no means a veiled attempt to get you to start yogatating. I have learned over the years that while everyone ought to do some kind of physical activity, exactly what kind is right for whom one cannot know unless one is that whom.

I made the change to yoga and walking in place of a personal trainer, because I felt that the gym was done. More sessions would only grow more musculature and life is not all about muscles. I also hypothesized that weight-lifting was increasing my testosterone at a time when I really needed estrogen. That’s what we call “Carnochan Science” ’round here,  i.e. you can say it pretty but you cain’t make it true.

Anyway. This yoga class was good not because of bodies and poses, or because the instructor gave us essential oils in our hands at the end, although I like that bit, but because she said something that resonated. “Breathe through your nose,” she said. “If you have to open your mouth you are probably doing too much.”

Huh.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a similar simple marker in life? Because I for one used to crave the high of trying really hard, metaphoric muscles shaking, symbolic tendons straining. It’s very easy to keep pushing along using what we’re good at, forgetting about and even damaging the parts of us that can’t keep up. Question being, if we save that mode for real emergencies, do we accomplish less?

Nose-breathing. Not terribly poetic, but then, life requires about as much poetry as it does muscles.

Have a wonderful weekend, in which you try no harder than the least of your abilities allows. Which sounds like giving up but doesn’t have to be, or coasting. Which perhaps it is.

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24 Comments

  • I love Carnochan Science! Turns out I do that too. Just didn’t know what it was called :-) I hope that PBS does a doc on your methodology soon.

    If you liked the essential oil component, I’m pretty sure, in California, you can find classes that maximize that element. BTW, you can get yourself some lovely EOs in the health food store and then use them on yourself in the same way.

    You know I’m biased, but I have all of the EOs and I use them constantly (to excellent effect). I also have an awesome diffuser, it’s like a piece of modern art, and I like to diffuse particular blends to act on my mood in different ways.

    03/19/16
    10:55 am
    Lisa said...

    A whole new thing to learn about! And one that smells good to boot:).

  • Since the discovery of, and surgery to remove, a large arachnoid cyst on my upper thoracic spinal cord, which had caused a syrinx to form inside my spinal cord, and which was robbing me of my ability to walk, I’ve been restricted to an exercise routine which consists of no more than walking, and gentle stretching. Even Yoga is a bit too vigorous for me!

    Even after having surgery, I still have some difficulty walking (my spinal cord was damaged from being compressed) but at least I can get around, and I’m grateful for that.

    I’ve learned to slow down and I’ve learned that my body exists separately from my mind. And that we can’t always control how things turn out – but we can control how we react. And that even the slowest-paced life has infinite opportunity for great pleasure if you let go of your expectations and take things as they are.

    03/19/16
    11:11 am
    Lisa said...

    @Diane, Thank you so very much for sharing your experience. Extraordinary. And I am glad to hear that at least you are better than before the surgery, and I admire your capacity for gratitude.

  • With Spring making it’s way into our Mid-Atlantic lives I re-started the Flonase routine; I can do quite a bit and still breath through my nose!

    03/19/16
    12:26 pm
    Lisa said...

    @RoseAG, You crack me up! I almost mentioned stuffy noses but was on a yogic roll so I refrained. Glad you brought us to reality:).

  • I loved this post Lisa, it is exactly the message that I need to hear at the moment, addicted as I am to the straining.

    03/19/16
    12:27 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Cara, Your work has brought me so much over the years I am happy to return the favor. xox.

  • Beautiful!

    03/20/16
    1:27 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Stephanie, Thank you:).

  • You are on a wickedly funny roll today. Loved this post. Another thing about mouth breathing is that it leads to snoring.

    03/20/16
    1:27 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Mary anne, I was just thinking I needed to be funnier round here! No snoring. Please, no snoring.

  • Like Rose AG, I’m all in favour of nose breathing… when one is able to, what with all the melting and thawing of stuff that makes one’s nose not very workable this time of year. Wish I could like Yoga…. but it seems to not be for me. Ah well, there are lots of other things to do… that do not involve excess straining:)

    03/20/16
    1:28 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Sue Burpee, Also you have all the great wild outdoors outside, and cross country skiing. Om:).

  • Love Yoga but I am on hiatus due to a frozen shoulder so I will enjoy it through your eyes…nose breathing is much preferred over mouth breathing!

    Walking, gardening and Yoga all very restorative practises.
    Essential Oils are a lovely way to wake up or clam down the senses…
    hope you are having a lovely weekend.
    XO

    03/20/16
    1:28 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, Restorative practices indeed:).

  • Love this. My favorite class was the day we were not to do our best. We were to find our edge and then back off. If we were doing our best we weren’t doing it right. Loved that day. Permission to relax, be imperfect and enjoy the experience.

    03/20/16
    1:36 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Kelly L, That’s so wonderful. Also the advice to find your edge, and and then back up, vs. never finding your edge at all.

  • I just started weight lifting to improve my bone density. However, there was a interesting NYT article about yoga for bone density. The twelve poses were listed.
    The 12 poses, by their English names, were tree, triangle, warrior II, side-angle, twisted triangle, locust, bridge, supine hand-to-foot I, supine hand-to-foot II, straight-legged twist, bent-knee twist and corpse pose. Each pose was held for 30 seconds. The daily regimen, once learned, took 12 minutes to complete.
    Here is the link to the article.

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/21/12-minutes-of-yoga-for-stronger-bones/

    03/20/16
    9:05 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Allison, Very interesting. Thank you. Bone density I am guessing will become more and more important every year.

  • Oh,great misteries of life and well being come through small things :-)
    And you put it always so beautifully and wise
    Dottoressa

    03/20/16
    9:05 pm
    Lisa said...

    @dottoressa, Oh thank you<3.

  • I’ve ALWAYS been interested in yoga but need a beginner’s class and invariably they’re not.

    03/20/16
    9:06 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Gail, So true! I picked my current studio precisely because they offer several beginner classes. That said, I think the best way to get started is to take a private lesson or two. Even the beginner classes often assume a basic knowledge. Which is really a pain.

  • Glad to hear that the gym is not always the answer.
    But I’ve got to do something soon, before I atrophy.
    Yoga will be part of the plan…
    Thanks – Judy

    03/20/16
    9:08 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Judy, So recommended. There are also online free sessions all over YouTube, if you’d like to get started in your own house, on your own time.

  • This is very timely for me. I may be breathing through my nose while trying to get all the spring garden chores done, but I almost always attempt to do way more than I should at any one time. It’s such a pleasure, and so rewarding, to work in the garden this time of year that I don’t realize I’ve overdone it until I get out of bed the next morning and the hip and back pain kick in. Growing older, for me, has been a sometimes humiliating lesson in learning to live within limits.

    03/20/16
    9:10 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Sherrie, Do you ever wake in the middle of the night with soreness? That’s what I really hate:(

  • I enjoy yoga too! I’ve really gotten into it after recovering from a spinal cord injury last year (I can walk but I’m not at 100%.)

    Yoga and pilates have been a wonder. Yoga, especially, gives me the same feeling as a massage, afterward.

    03/20/16
    9:11 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Val-holla! (@ValerieSprague), It does, a good class, it absolutely does. Here’s to so much healing for you!

  • Thank you for making me giggle today, first thing. Your intelligent wit is something else and I need to come up with a word for it. If you’re ever inclined, help me out!

    03/20/16
    9:12 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jane S, You are welcome, and so nice! What made you giggle? I am never really sure when I am funny and when I am just narrating as the universe tells it to me!

  • So glad to hear the yoga love here. Yoga and walking (or hiking, which might just be walking on uneven surfaces and up and down hills) is the best form of exercise for mind body and spirit in my opinion!

  • I quit the Personal trainer years ago as I too was becoming too muscly!I found my thing where I can breath through my nose!
    THE REFORMER CARRIAGE as they call it in PILATES!
    AMAZing how one word or sentence can be like a LIGHT GOING OFF!

  • Deep believer in yoga here, even did a six-month Iyengar teacher training program (don’t plan to teach formally, though). That plus walking is indeed a well-rounded, whole-body plan.

  • I loved this post. As an 65 year old who has mastered the “make it hard” routine I am definitely trying to embrace this philosophy in multiple areas of my life. Thank you for the reminder.

  • You crack me up! But in a thoughtful way. ;-)

  • I’ve fallen out of yoga in the past little while … I’ll definitely have to pick it up again soon!

  • I’m happy to read that you tried yoga. Yoga – like meditation is a practice. To be honest – in the past – I shied away from yoga because I was approaching it from the perspective of physical fitness. But now – I approach it from the perspective of an elevation of my meditation practice.

    I am only able to do yoga once a week. The rest of the week – I still lift weights ( I want to have more testosterone in my body?? :) )

    Incidentally – I just conducted a mindfulness training for my team. I have benefited so much from the mindfulness practice that I felt that it was time for me to share it with others and have them figure out if it also serves them.

  • Ashtanga yoga is definitely muscle-shaking from time to time. It also requires “pilates breathing” which is loud and deep. One of my yoga teachers would keep saying “Anna I can’t hear you breathe, I am worried about you.” What she meant was if you don’t breathe deeply and controlledly, you risk injury.

    I agree with your teacher though, and would like to add that there is a difference between doing too much and trying too much. :)