Saturday, September 15, 2007

My Future Self

I’ve decided. Pilates is not for me. I took at least one Pilates class a week from April through early August, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve got to be the most remedial Pilates student ever to gracelessly place her feet in the stirrups of a Reformer. For some reason, I couldn't seem to retain much of the information the instructors provided about how to perform an exercise. Whatever they'd say would just evaporate from my brain in a matter of seconds. Even when I did retain what they told me, I’d usually not be able to get my body to do what was required in a very satisfactory way. And I was trying, honest!

It wasn't the instructors' fault--they were first rate and, jeez, incredibly patient. (It must have been frustrating for them to have someone come in week after week and not be making any measurable progress.) They kept telling me not to worry and that “muscle memory” would kick in. Do I need to interject here that Pilates is almost entirely about the abdominal muscles? Well, mine are and always have been exceptionally weak and flaccid. Apparently, they also are incapable of remembering anything that I try to hammer into them. Way to go abs—always letting me down!

Plus, it was really hard to justify the expense.

I started taking Pilates because I was burnt out on yoga and because I wanted to address a hip problem, which, interestingly, has gotten much, much better. But was it Pilates? Maybe. But it also might be that I stopped spending hours and hours sitting in the wrong kind of chair. Or maybe it just got better on its own.

Last week, I spontaneously decided to go to a “shoulder-opening” yoga workshop. Three hours straight of yoga poses that target the shoulders, arms, chest, and neck. You know, the fourth chakra, or the hunched-over-the-computer chakra.

It was totally great and I'm now all jazzed about yoga again! Yoga makes a lot more sense to me than Pilates. Even though I’ve never progressed very far with it, the basic principles haven't seemed to ooze out of my brain the way the Pilates stuff did. Also, yoga brings instant results. All you have to do is one or two poses and you can feel the benefits, even if you are doing a modified version of the pose, so by the end of three hours, I was feeling pretty stretched out and opened up. It was wonderful, and I needed it.

The instructor mentioned--and I’ve heard this before--that opening up the fourth chakra (heart chakra) can be an emotional experience. When I hear stuff like this, my first inclination is always to dismiss it as New Age hooey.

But I have to admit that on more than one occasion, I’ve found that doing anything fourth chakra-related does bring up some checked baggage. For example, at the end of the workshop, the instructor did this guided mediation thing in which she had us visualize a peaceful place (e.g., a forest or beach) and a familiar-looking person walking toward us. This familiar-looking person, it turned out, was to be our “future self” who was bringing us a message and then backing off into the middle distance again. For some reason, just the thought of my future self made me want to cry. In fact, tears did spring into my eyes (good thing I had my eye pillow in place to soak them up).

Even though this was supposed to be a positive, affirming thing--and it was on some level--I couldn’t help but think that my future self is going to be a withered husk of a woman, who’s about 4 feet 8 inches tall and utterly alone. In fact, I feel like I saw her today at the farmers’ market. I was standing at one of the stalls when a stooped, white-haired woman asked me to please grab a plastic bag for her (the bags were at eye level for me) because, as she told me, her spine had shrunk 4 inches and she had no hope of reaching the bags. She bought a single tomato that was probably an extravagance (fixed, poverty-level income) and then hobbled away (osteoporosis, arthritis).

Speaking of my future self. Tomorrow is my somethingieth birthday. I keep getting older. What is up with that? I absolutely cannot believe how freakin-ass old I’ve become. I probably say this every year, but I still feel and feel like I act very immature. Maybe it’s because I’ve never gotten married but persist in living together with my “boyfriend” (it’s laughable to refer to him as such [he’ll be 49 in a few months]) and we don't have any kids, so I feel like I’m at about the same stage in my life as people in their 20s. But I’m oh so very much older. So antique, in fact, that I go out of my way to avoid ever telling my age to people. Yes, I have some hang-ups about aging (see previous paragraph) that I wish I could unburden myself of. It takes quite a bit of effort to keep remembering to not drop clues from which people could extrapolate my age. So silly. I was going to go ahead and try to get over this ridiculous aversion by revealing my age to the blogosphere, but, meh, I can’t bring myself to do it.

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