Saturday, August 27, 2016

AromaYIN at The Giving Tree Yoga Studio

Forty-five minutes after the end of yoga class and I have finally crutched all the way back home, sitting at the computer, ready to write my blog.  Had I left after my prenatal class, I could've been done for the day (and the week) and at home by probably about 6:00, given my speed on the street these days.

What kind of class was worth taking, and worth keeping me out of the house an extra 90 minutes worth of class time and seemingly endless amount of getting-ready and crutch-commute time?  That would be the outstanding AromaYIN class at The Giving Tree Yoga Studio.

Yin, similar to restorative, yoga involves holding poses for much longer than in a typical hatha or vinyasa class - 5-10 minutes.  Like restorative, props are utilized for comfort, but in yin yoga there is a greater emphasis on therapeutic stretching of muscles and the connective tissues as well as resting comfortably in the poses.  You're changing your body more with yin than with restorative.

I have always been a huge fan of restorative - and now also, yin - yoga.  (For one thing, it's basically the only way I can really take a good nap.)  With both of these wonderful practices, you can take most any pose that comes to mind, add enough props and creativity, and you can allow your body to open, backward bend, forward fold, twist, laterally stretch, and rest with a minimum of effort and a maximum of results that make you feel completely refreshed.

The Giving Tree has been my neighborhood yoga studio since Ditmars has been my neighborhood - six years now.  There used to be just one or two restorative classes on the schedule, but as time has gone on and teachers have come and go, and as owners Anne-Margaret and Anthony have continued to evolve as phenomenal teachers, teacher training facilitators, and givers to their community, they developed a class based on a two and a half hour workshop they offer - which also adds massage and reiki to the mix.

Now AromaYIN is offered four times a week, with four different teachers.  I can most often be spotted in Iris's class, where her warm hands offer such comforting hands-on assists or in Clay's, where his soothing voice helps lull me into relaxation at the end of a long week.  I've had the pleasure of also taking Donna and Kim's classes, which are also lovely.

Having this class right in my neighborhood is so helpful whenever I'm on call for a doula client.  I often get too in my head and have a hard time sleeping when I ought to be logging as many solid hours of sleep at night as I can, or perhaps my client is in days-long early labor where I know I need to be ready at any moment.  Just getting into my bed for the purpose of napping usually just involves me tossing and turning fitfully while having insane conversations with myself - but in the context of yoga poses, guided by a teacher - and not to mention the wonderful aromatherapy - it completely turns off my anxious mind and helps rest my body.

Now I'm no longer on call, but my torn plantar fascia has my mobility and activity severely limited.  I find myself constantly exhausted now, either from the exertion it takes just to get from Point A to Point B, or because I'm also paradoxically nowhere near as active as I normally am on a day-to-day basis and I feel like inertia is pulling me under and sucking the energy out of me.  It'll be a long time before I can take a regular class and actually practice along with everyone else, but AromaYIN has been such an unbelievable comfort.  It helps me to rest, helps me to soothe my sore and imbalanced body, and probably most importantly, has helped me to feel supported and keep my spirits up.  My practice is different for the near future, but I still have one, and it's still powerful and profound.

Whether you're struggling with an injury or healthy as a horse, whether you have a type-A anxious New York mind that has a hard time being still or are just curious about trying something new, I cannot recommend the AromaYIN class highly enough.




Infusing the wisdom of the chakras with the balancing properties of aromatherapy, AromaYIN
offers a yin-like, feminine practice, exclusively on the floor, that restores the body, mind, and spirit. Each restorative and yin pose is enhanced with the inhalation of therapeutic-grade essential oils, chakra meditations, and hands-on adjustments to melt the body into sweet surrender. Created by Anne-Margaret Redding, AromaYIN is featured at The Giving Tree Yoga Studio in Astoria, NY.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Love & Obstacles

My original subject from this post was going to be all about responding with love to adversities and adversaries.  I was inspired by Corey Booker's response to a standard-issue negative tweet from the Republican nominee - answering the hatefulness with love, compassion, and rising above the negativity.  It's a truly admirable example, and one that everyone should follow, regardless of your party affiliation, if we actually want to make the country and the world a better place.

Little did I know that the obstacle put in my way this week would quite be to this level.

After trying to self-manage mild but ever-present pain in my left foot this summer, which I self-diagnosed as plantar fasciitis, my first run in a few weeks sent the pain level up a few notches and finally got my stubborn, prideful self to the podiatrist.  I expected to leave with admonitions about better shoes and not being barefoot in hardwood and maybe a cortisone shot to get me through.

Instead, I was told what no active New Yorker - or anyone, for that matter - wants to hear:  Crutches.  For at least 4 weeks, if not 8.   God save me from any more than that.  A tear in my plantar fascia.

So, yes.  My left foot is now my not-quite-literal flat tire - my obstacle.

I'll be put in a cast after Labor Day - wearing a boot until then, because I will be damned if I miss out on my last two weeks of swimming.  Crutching my way down to the pool took forever (and good GOD I forgot how painful it is to crutch around the city...my hands and my armpits are 20 billion times more painful than my foot) but hitting the water made it so very worth it.  Watching the sun set over the East River as I glided through the water was the absolute best thing for my body and soul.

So, now is where all my platitudes get put to the test.  The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment is my life philosophy, and I intend to enjoy this adventure as much as I can, despite the disappointments.  No more Labor Day getaway filled with hiking and exploring Cold Spring with my love.  No 10-mile Bronx race in September or 8K Run for France on Sunday.  No taking for granted going up and down stairs, making dinner, setting up mats for my yoga classes, dashing across the room to get the phone or the door, speedwalking from my apartment to the subway in 5 minutes.  As a very active, very self-sufficient, very spry (for lack of a better word) person, not being able to do these big and little things can set me off in anger and frustration like nobody's business.

But.

Silver linings.

Acts of kindness are never more on display, from my friends and from strangers, than when I'm injured.  My husband, thank the sweet lord, is not out of town doing a show like he was the last time I was confined to crutches, and takes incredible care of me in sickness and in health.  And despite being unable to run, I got to swim into the Astoria sunset tonight.

Perspective.

A torn plantar fascia is not a broken foot, or a broken leg, or cancer.  I'm young and in great shape.  Despite the considerable expense, I'm able to get good health care and have the resources to get the shoes and myriad of accessories needed for recovery and rehabilitation.  I am blessed with a roof over my head and stability & love in my life.  I have a job I love so much that it brings tears to my eyes when I think of not being able to do it.  I acknowledge that this is a first-world problem.

I am an optimist at heart.  I do have an excellent ability to be cynical and negative, to complain and to burrow myself into being a victim, but I truly am an optimist at heart.  And in the end, I know I will learn valuable lessons from this.  (The first being - stop trying to tough out pain, because the only medal you will be rewarded is crutches!  For some reason that one takes awhile to stick...)

They say comedy is tragedy plus time, which is completely true.  This doesn't qualify as major tragedy, not by a long shot, but it is a big physical, emotional, and mental obstacle.  So I'm just going to try to love it.  I'm going to try to love doing everything incredibly slowly.  I'm going to love the flights of stairs awaiting me in these next weeks.  I'm going to love my foot instead of reacting how I normally do to injury - with anger and resentment of my body.

Mainly, I'm going to try to find the humor and perspective in the moment that normally comes with time.  I will need lots of help and encouragement, but I know my fellow New Yorkers and loved ones are up for the job.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Let's go swimming

Two to three mornings a week, I go running.  This summer, though, in preparation for next year's NYC Marathon, I wanted to take some time off to let my body fully recover from the Brooklyn Half.  I've been running 1-2 times a week max, spending more time strength training, and luckily was given an absolutely perfect gift by my neighborhood - a chance to stay in shape and stay cool at the same time, while doing one of my favorite activities on the planet.

The Astoria Park public pool offers lap swim for grown-ups from 7-8:30am and 7pm-dusk - this has apparently been offered for years, but I've had my head under a rock and didn't realize it.  Of all the summers to discover it, how awesome that I'm getting back in to lap swimming during the Olympics!  I competed on swim teams for a good 5 or 6 years as a kid and I regret quitting when I did.  Swimming just for fun has always been one of my absolute favorite things to do - my mom has said that I could swim before I could walk (I don't know if that's true, but it sounds awesome).  If I could have any superpower, it would definitely be the ability to breathe underwater so I could basically live like a mermaid.  If I'm at the beach, I'm going in the water - temperature be damned.

Incredibly, we're approaching mid-August, which means we are approaching fall.  I think in the hot humid misery of our current state, most of us are forgetting the joys of summer and are ready for cooler weather - and after the Olympics, I know at least I will be seriously ready for football season.

But even though now is the time to start preparing and laying the groundwork for "back to school" season, which in my line of work means back to a much fuller working and teaching schedule, now is also the time to revel in summer, even when it's as miserably hot as it is today and has been this week.

I've been replacing running with swimming every chance I've gotten, and one of the many things I love about swimming is that, unless you're shelling out the money for waterproof headphones, you can only listen to yourself and to your breath.  I don't run without headphones quite as often as I probably should, and most yoga classes I attend play music.  Swimming is a chance to move, meditate, and focus on the breath all at the same time.  It's a chance to feel cool and weightless and graceful.

It's also humbling.  Breast stroke comes very naturally to me, so as a result I hadn't attempted to swim freestyle in a very long time.  Probably years.  I assumed that because I'm a strong swimmer in the sense that I'm comfortable being knocked around by waves in the ocean, that I'd glide right back into freestyle.  That was definitely not the case.  It's an advanced stroke and it was good for me to get my butt kicked trying to rediscover it.  It took a few visits before I was able to make an entire lap of freestyle start to finish, but I'm finally back there.

Getting the chance to have that time to myself before teaching, especially for teaching my beloved and often totally insane Friday morning classes at The Giving Tree, has been wonderful.  It's always good, mentally and physically, to switch things up every so often, and I'm so grateful to the NYC Parks department for this free opportunity!

There are more community pools around the area if you aren't an Astorian - this website gives you locations.  Summer isn't over yet - get inspired and get swimming!