Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yoga as relaxation exercise, or as exercise in futility? Ask the cats.

On Monday I did two short yoga workouts from my new dvd and was completely wiped out and miserable feeling from all the backbends and poses that my other teacher didn't use regularly. I was still feelin' it all day Tuesday --- tired and with an achy knee. Well: do you rest longer between workouts or push so that you can get your stamina back up? I still don't know the answer to that, but this morning I tried again.

The dvd has a "relaxation" workout that seemed like it might be a possibility. I tried it and it was mostly breath training and meditation --- better for a wind-down than an actual mellow stretch. Dammit! I thought. Am I going to have to go back to the free samples on the internet? Or buy another dvd? Then, I got the great idea of starting the exhausting one in the middle! and skipping past some of the backbend stuff. Yoga practitioners can tell me if I'm doing something horrible by skipping around in a program, but I will probably ignore you.

What I wanted was to do some strength training stuff after doing that very mellow stretching/meditating thing. I fiddle about on the disk and do a couple stretches, then settle down for some plank poses.

For those of you who do not know, the plank pose is like in PE where you are on the ground holding your arms out below you right before you start a push-up. There's also a pose where you drop in a push-up, kinda slither forward, and then push off your arms to come up into a backbendy thing. Surprisingly, just the holding of the plank pose is tiring, even without any push-up motions.

So I've gone through some poses and now the dvd person is having me tighten up my stomach muscles and hold in the plank pose. Puff, puff. This is tiring. Concentrate, Sisyphus! Meow! ---- What? No, concentrate! Just two more breaths out of the five. Meow! Focus, slowly lower yourself ----

At this point there is a cat in my peripheral vision, hovering there looking at me with great intent as if he was willing me to stop and I make the mistake of glancing at him while lowering down in that push-up position, and he licks me On. The. Eyeball!!

I collapse ungracefully on the floor with an Argggh! and I can't even get my hands out from under me to clutch at the eye, and my cat walks across my back and settles himself comfortably somewhere on the region of my kidneys. Thanks.

I wonder: do the great yogis have to put up with eye-licks from cats? Do they just ignore it and keep meditating? Or do they have doors to keep the cats out of their practice room? If I have a cat lick my eye and I can still finish a chaturanga, will I have attained enlightenment?

Maybe I'm already there. After all, the cat is still alive.


Susan said...

The little one occasionally settles down for a nap underneath me while I'm in to come down, I have to move her. She'll also do that when I'm doing sun salutations.

Liberal Arts Lady said...

My cat always gets underneath if I'm doing plank or wheel. I guess it's part of the training?

If you want the option of harder poses but also to be able to do short sessions I'd recommend Shiva Rea's Yoga Shakti, it's a good couple of series but it also lets you choose pieces of the set workouts for your own customized session.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Argh!! The cat licked your eyeball? That's the kind of thing that makes wearing glasses so worth it to me. If I were you, I would have, at least, forced the cat into the most brutal of yoga poses -- whatever it may be.

Feminist Avatar said...

I reckon if you just use some common sense you should be alright jumping about on the exercises. Just make sure you warm up, stretch, cool down etc, and try to make sure you balance your exercises, so that if you do a lot of stomach exercises, you also do a lot of back exercises, etc.

Shedding Khawatir said...

And I thought it was bad when my 15 pound cat took plank pose as in invitation to sprawl on my back thus increasing the workout intensity--eyeball licking sounds much more painful!

Sisyphus said...

To be fair for the cat, it didn't know I was going to turn my head and look right at its tongue. Maybe it was just trying to comfort me, since I was making all sorts of funny noises and groans!

heu mihi said...

Ack! That's...just weird.

If you want a wide variety of yoga videos without actually buying them, I recommend subscribing to My Yoga Online. It's about $10/month for unlimited video streaming, and they have a lot of good ones in there; it's what I use. They sometimes have specials, too, like $70/year (that's the plan I'm on)--totally worth it, I think!

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

My cats think all my yoga mat are belong to them.

recent Ph.D. said...

One yoga teacher I had said cats were the ultimate yogis and you could learn a lot just watching them stretach their way out of a good nap.

Leigh Fought said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clio Bluestocking said...

Is it wrong that I pulled something while laughing at this?

I once had a dachshund who would lick the insides of my nostrils when I stretched.