When I first started doing yoga, years ago, I fretted. What was all this breathing carp*? Where was the cardio! Bring on the cardio!
I'm not as cardio obsessed anymore and I have come to realize I really need to do yoga. A horrible fall while trail running has haunted me for the past four years. Periodically one side of my body rebels and decides to hurt, and according to my physical therapist, I get out of alignment every so often. "Your kidneys and liver are really compressed," he said thoughtfully at my last appointment. And, possibly a lingering effect of the knee surgery after my last marathon, I've noticed a knee clunking if I bend it beyond a certain degree.
So yoga it is. I will never be "good" at it, though. Most hikers and runners are not all that flexible and I'm no exception. Leaning my forehead on the ground in a seated forward bend is an impossible dream. My heels are still not flat on the floor in downward dog.
And then there's the headstands. Most of the people in my class pop right up and stay there. Not me. I waver at the important step of kicking up. Once I am up, I just want to be back down. It feels scary and wrong. "I like headstands," one of the other yogis says cheerfully. "Not handstands though."
Even though I suspect I am the worst yogi my teacher has ever seen, I still dutifully trundle to class. I still can't quite get the breathing, and what does it mean to move my gut tube? I have no idea. But I keep trying, because I know after decades of pounding down the trail I need something that balances out. I hope that my knee will get stronger and my body finally will release all the problems it holds from the fall. Turns out, cardio isn't what I need to be doing all the time.
*Yes that is carp. Because it makes me laugh.
Do you do yoga? Can you do a headstand? What about a handstand?