Thursday, February 4, 2010

Swimming and Yoga

I have just returned from a mini holiday in Miami with Joe. We stayed in the Eden Roc hotel. I would recommend this hotel to anyone, but be sure to ask for a room in the new Ocean Tower, where every room faces the incredible ocean. I love Miami Beach primarily because of the color of the water. It is light turquoise and really feels like you are in the Caribbean. Even a few miles north in Fort Lauderdale, the water begins to turn blue gray, foreshadowing the blah color it will be when it reaches the shores of Maryland or points further north. The Eden Roc has four swimming polls that are kept at 88 degrees. I can imagine that in the summer months this might seem a bit warm, but in January it is heavenly.

In Maryland, we are having an unusually snowy winter. My wonderful daughter Rose agreed to house sit and care for our dogs, while we were gone. (Allyson was at her daughter's house because her granddaughter, Genevieve, was having a successful tonsillectomy). Joe kept taking photos from our balcony and e-mailing them home, until we got a message from the snowed-in Rose, "DO NOT SEND ANY MORE PHOTOS." Poor Rose suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, so the photos of sunshine and water were just too much for her.

I made full use of all the warm water the hotel could offer. Each day I spent at least two hours submerged, swimming, and doing water walking forward, sideways, and backward. I stretched in the water and was incredibly limber because my joints were toasty warm. The odd thing for me is that when I am exercising in warm water, I totally loose track of time. Every other type of exercise makes me count the seconds until I can stop, but in the pool hours pass without me noticing. I think I enter a meditative-type state in which a lot of the conscious functions of my brain, including anxiety and the Executive Center function, finally shut off. It feels so good to be without thoughts, and only feel the water pressure against my body. I need to go to hot places frequently so I can enter this state of mind regularly.

When we got home there were several inches of new snow on the ground. I tired to go to the track with the boys before taking them to swim practice, but it had not been cleared and was covered with snow and ice. At home, Allyson suggested that we try yoga. Molly, Allyson's daughter, gave me a beginning yoga CD for Christmas. After struggling with three remote controls ( how I hate electronics), we managed to get it going. We selected the first section, "Poses." Although the two people on the CD were moving very slowly and calmly explaining the common mistakes people make in the beginning poses, I had a hard time doing the standing positions. My feet cramped and my legs shook, and I had to take frequent breaks. It is not only my weight that makes standing poses difficult, it is because my legs and feet naturally "turn-out" from the hip down and form a perfect first position for ballet class. I think they must have been molded in this position from all the horseback riding and ballet I did as a kid. So it is extremely uncomfortable for me to stand with my feet facing forward in a parallel position.

I did the best that I could, while complaining loudly to Allyson who ignored me, as she followed along with the CD with relative ease. Fortunately, the teacher on the CD began to show floor positions, and with gravity on my side, I did much better. I have a very straight back when I sit in on the floor and I can do most of the bending with ease. I did notice the right side of my spine, where I have osteo-arthritis is less flexible than my left, but other than that I did quite well. The CD ended with the teachers guiding us through several relaxation poses and guided breathing exercises. The room was quiet and the light was dim, and I found these very restful. When the CD ended, Allyson and I looked at each other and smiled. It had been a really good experience for both of us and we felt accomplished, relaxed and a little tingly in a good way. So now I am not only a jogger, I can also do yoga. Who knows what I will learn next?

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