Instead of spending time writing last Saturday morning, I made some early morning phone calls, went to an exercise class, went to a fitness tailgate, then I skipped the game in order to go hang out with a friend who needed time to vent and laugh. By the time I got back home, I wanted mindless activity and a nap. Since it was too late to take a nap, I opted for an early bedtime. Before putting the journal and the computer away, I wrestled with my decision to choose sleep over choosing to write while drowsy. I battled against the potential that I might disappoint readers and the feeling that I failed because I missed a week of posting to my blog. This internal struggle made me reflect on the work I have been doing to reset my internal compass in order to take better care of myself and regain my focus. I was frustrated that I had so much difficulty choosing my wellbeing over my to do list. I reminded myself of my children when they were toddlers going hard for hours and then collapsing without notice. Why did they go so hard all of the time and I have I conditioned myself to do the same?
I go hard all day analyzing, creating, exploring, and fixing situations, circumstances, and things. Over the last few weeks, I have been looking for ways to quiet my mind. I used to watch episodes of every version of tiny living shows as my primary escape. However, now that I have joined the world of television apps I don’t always have access to the tiny shows so I have expanded my viewer menu options. Since the tiny shows are not as accessible, my evening “entertainment” came courtesy of reruns of “Impractical Jokers,” “The Closer,” and “House Hunters,” and “Big Bang Theory.” I also used movies made for television and random documentaries to distract me from the busyness in my head. A few months ago, it became clear that my recipe for wholeness and wellbeing was insufficient so I searched for videos and apps to help me settle my mind so that I could sleep. I also knew that I needed to reintroduce exercise back into my life.
Labor Day weekend I decided to activate my membership at a local gym. It was long overdue. While I knew that I should have committed to a workout regimen at least a year ago, driving myself to the gym for the first time in a very long time took determination and courage. The determination to overcome the frustration I felt because I had to start over yet again setting and working to achieve new fitness goals now complicated by age and hormonal changes. Additionally, I had to ignore the voice in my head that encouraged me to postpone the trip to the gym. I fought against the urge to let my car drive me to the nearest restaurant to buy something that was not a salad.
Once I vocalized my need to change my ways, committed to join the gym, and confirmed that my membership card was activated, I set out to ease my way back to some type of movement. Walking the track was first although I wondered whose bright idea it was to put the dang track on the fourth floor. The first week I was winded walking up the stairs to the stupid track. There was an elevator right next to the door for the steps. I was really tempted to take the ride up, but peer pressure forced me to walk the steps. The resistant fitness patron (me) wanted to count the time it took to climb the stairs as a part of the workout. I really don’t love walking in circles or using stationary equipment, but I had to start somewhere. As I walked in circles trying not to lose count of my laps, I considered how I would overcome my apprehension about participating in group classes. It could only have been the devil working to discourage me from doing one of the things that worked so well for me every other time I worked to be more fit.
The last time I joined this gym I went to pilates, yoga, and zumba. The zumba crowd was very young and the instructors liked to do moves that revealed the true age of my knees. The thought of going back to that class was intimidating because I felt older and less fit than I was the last time I tried that class. According to the experts at the gym, my options for dance classes increased during my absence. I read the dance class descriptions, but that was not enough to persuade me to register for one of the classes. I did, however, get up one Saturday morning to try a new class called gyrokinesis, pronounced /Jie-row-kin-e-sis/.
The gyrokinesis class was being taught in the yoga room which was a familiar space for me. I also loved the fact that the room was on the second floor and not the fourth floor like the track. I really didn’t want to show up to a new class sweating and gasping for air. I walked in to find a really nice lady named Gina who had the body of a ballerina. Her smile, her bright eyes, and her bubbly spirit radiated to me, “I am super happy to welcome new students to my class.” None of her students that Saturday morning had ever taken a gyrokinesis class and we didn’t know what to expect. The description simultaneously confused me and peeked my curiosity. Reportedly, the class combined aspects of gymnastics, yoga, pilates, swimming, dance, and meditation. Hmmm. I was not a gymnist or swimmer. Yoga and pilates generally revealed that my flexibility challenges were not helped by my sedentary job so I felt a little bit concerned that I would not be able to successfully perform the practice. I enjoyed dance and meditation because both left me feeling refreshed, energized, and at peace with my self and my circumstances. I couldn’t imagine how we would incorporate all of these exercises into one class.
In addition to the mental exercise required to make sense of the course description, I tried to figure out why there were black stools in close proximity to the nice instructor. The black stools were tall and medium while the blue ones that resembled a stool that someone might use in the kitchen were not tall or medium. The blue stools were more accurately described as stools built for the vertically challenged. Gina instructed us to use our yoga mats to create a circle. She described the circle as a wagon wheel, but I thought of it like a sun. The wooden floor was the center and the mats made the rays of sun. Just when I thought it couldn’t get more interesting, Gina told us to put the stools on top of the mats. “Ok, whatever you say,” read the thought bubble in my head. I have been told that trying new things keeps your mind sharp and time with Gina definitely met my criteria for a new thing.
One class with Gina and I was hooked on the benefits of this class. In fifty minutes, Gina taught us at least four different ways to breathe in cleansing breaths and exhale stale air. It was a safe place to learn the breathing techniques without judgment. I gained an appreciation for the energy generated within me while appreciating the synergy created by me practicing alongside the other folks in the room. We sat in our circle participating in what Gina called “a moving meditation.” We stretched our spines in all directions while we imagined wearing magnetic belts to keep our cores engaged throughout the practice.
The foundational principles of gyrokinesis promote the practice of the fluid, circular movements we use every day like twisting, reaching, stretching, and breathing. The practice surprisingly required concentration and coordination to perform the butterfly movements that resembled a breaststroke and the movements that made us look like we were blooming flowers. The choreographed movements loosened my stiff muscles and oiled my joints. I enjoyed being in the class with people of all ages and body types. It was cool to be in a community of learners receiving instruction from the ONLY certified gyrokinesis instructor in my city. I haven’t told her this yet, but she is a combination of two of my good friends, Lauren and Jo. I also never told her that I spent most of the first class trying to figure out who she reminded me of as I worked to keep breathing and moving rhythmically with everyone else. I am so glad that I took the risk of going to this class. I think that the people who attend this class can’t help but be kind-hearted and supportive of one another. The energy in the room was positive and my best was all that was expected and there was continual affirmation of my efforts to do work through the practice.
If you have been putting off a health related goal or two, stop putting it off. Stop procrastinating and finding excuses to avoid becoming healthier. Take a page from my book and start with something. My something was a forty to forty-five minute walk at least three times a week. After a week of walking, I added gyrokinesis. Two weeks later I added a spin class. This week I increased the intensity of the walk in order to burn more calories and fat. I am proud of my decision to do something. I am proud of my decision to push myself to vary my fitness options.
Take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself. Try something new and you may find something new to love. I found gyrokinesis. I love the part of this moving meditation practice that allows me to scan my body to see how I am really feeling from the soles of my feet rooted in the earth to the top of my head. Gina reminds us every class not to judge ourselves, but to be aware of anything new or any changes since the last scan. I encourage you to take a literal scan of the varied aspects of your life and make some decisions about how to bring more balance. If you are looking for a peaceful, mindful practice, please try gyrokinesis and let me know what you think.