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(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Still embroiled in the yoga changes here, but am trying to breathe and stay in the moment. As a woman—named Sunshine appropriately enough—said in Saturday’s makeshift class in the park, this abrupt change is just the Universe saying that now is the time to make way for something better to happen.

The community recreation center has served me well in so many ways over the last twenty-some years. While pregnant, I took water exercise classes—an exercise itself since my twin-pregnancy-bladder could not even make it through a one hour class. A year later my husband and I were bringing our twins to infant swimming classes, learning games such as “motor boat, motor boat go so slow” and helping them chase down rubber ducks.

T-ball and baseball, tumbling, dance, and swim lessons—our kids learned in the local community. The fellow townspeople we did not first meet at school, we met at the rec center and in the parks.

And as the kids grew, I found more time to return for my own classes. Step aerobics, fitness classes, (outside) water exercise, Pilates, ZUMBA, and yoga. My community circle kept growing as I met people—older and younger—who did not have kids the same age as mine were.

But of all the classes I’ve joined, my yoga classes have been the best community-builders. Yoga is more than a fitness class—it is a way of life. Because of that most people who start taking classes just keep coming session after session, even if they have to miss a few classes from time to time.

The more you place your mat next to someone else’s mat, month after month, year after year, the more you start to realize that you are becoming kindred spirits. Your backgrounds, lifestyles, whatever may be different, but when you give in to doing individual poses, partner poses, or group circle poses in the same space, the more you realize that you have to trust these people—at bare minimum—not to ridicule you, but also to cheer you on when you’re close to achieving a pose that has eluded you for years or to spot you when you try something really difficult. You start to know who is always looking for stress relief or who is experiencing grief or whose hip is in trouble or who is starting to become comfortable and fit in his or her own body. These people see you in very vulnerable—and not very attractive—positions. And every class ends with each of you resting in savasana, eyes closed, trusting that no one else will harm you.

You become a close community, as together you work to remain open. Though a few people float in and out of that community, many remain constant, dedicated to a way of life, led by a particular teacher.

This sense of belonging with these kindred spirits is what I most want to keep from our community. As we transition from a group that meets together in one particular place with one particular teacher to those who stay with the place and those who go with the teacher, may we never forget that what we have shared together cannot be taken from us. My community has grown from a particular place, but is not limited to that place.

Om shanti, my friends. Peace . . .

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(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert (Trina: after working out at the Englewood Recreation Center)

You know, the term recreation center doesn’t work that well for me. Maybe that’s because I consider recreation more of an optional thing, but I don’t consider exercise optional at all. I don’t know, when I’m skiing or hiking, that’s recreation, but yoga or Pilates are work—although work I choose to do. Though the term recreation center doesn’t work for me, however, the recreation center itself does work for me.

I remember when my hometown built a recreation center when I was in junior high. Suddenly there was some place to go and do physical things, even if it was too cold and/or icy to run outside—you know like when the temperature dropped below ten degrees and the wind chill below zero—I could at least run around the gym. Oh, the center didn’t have all the bells and whistles today’s centers have, but I could lift weights, play racquetball, or meet friends in the swimming pool (did I mention I’m not enough of a swimmer to swim for fitness?)

Truth is, even in metro Denver, I’ve mostly stuck with recreation centers. I just feel more comfortable there—something about the term “club” just seems a little too high-brow for all the sweating I do when I exercise. These days I think of myself as a gym rat, even though I don’t go to the local recreation center to lift weights or use the equipment. Instead I attend classes there at least four times a week.

Signing up for scheduled classes means I will exercise because I am too cheap to pay for classes and not go. We all have to have our motivators, right? I’m just sure that if paid by the month or year or whatever that I wouldn’t stay as committed as I do by taking specific classes at a specific time. Because, like I said, exercise isn’t always recreation for me.

Still, I don’t want you to think I don’t enjoy exercise—it’s just I don’t always enjoy all of the activities in my classes. I mean, I am never going to be a fan of the Pilates “100s” or that one particular yoga position that resembles being a prisoner chained to the wall in a castle dungeon (sorry, I don’t know the technical term for that one!) or even dancing to any country song routines in ZUMBA.

Yet if you look in my gratitude journal, my trips to the rec center are among my top entries. No, my local recreation center does not have a catchy (or annoying!) song such as the YMCA does, but I still think it’s fun to work out there anyway. After all, once I split the word “recreate” into re-create, I start to understand the term recreation center after all. There’s no denying that all those Downward Dogs and planks have re-created me into a much, much better version of me.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Be glad I kept my laptop shut—or at least chose not to approach it last Friday. In general, my blogging policy is if I can’t say anything nice at all—or at least head toward a slightly positive ending—that maybe I should just leave my private thoughts, well, private. After all, I do know how to write by hand in a journal if I want to spew.

But I didn’t do that either.

No, I sat in my reading chair with the dogs (don’t worry, not until after I invited them, Mr. Behaviorist) and finished a book. As I reflected on facing the weekend with limited mobility and limited funds, I realized a trip to my local library could rescue me from a truly mopey fate. Thankfully, our taxes still support a superb facility that can provide entertainment to the poor and downtrodden or those just temporarily broke and grumpy, such as myself.

Unfortunately I ran into a longtime acquaintance when I was really not up for chit-chat. I was too busy wallowing in my supposed restricted future, thank you very much, to socialize.

“How’s it going?” she asked.

Ms. Grumpy replied, “My hips don’t work.”

Now, she’s known me long enough to know that I wasn’t talking about pain. Still, I wish if I were going to be so brutally honest, that I would have added something like, “And you know how I get when I don’t move.” She and I are both, after all, women of a certain age, who have experienced our share of physical downtimes due to injuries. We may have met on school committees, but we also run into each other at the local recreation center (another public-supported facility that has saved both my body and soul!)

Then I took myself, as well as a few books and a DVD, home to my chair where I lost myself inside someone else’s world—OK, not a world I want to inhabit. But hey, I wasn’t reading about my own murder.

The next day I woke up, hips aching, not ready to give up my grudge against Life’s newest twist. A few hours later, though, I’d kind of forgotten about the hips because they had started working better with little more than a B-Complex capsule.

Which meant my previous day’s conclusion—that life as I had known it was over—might have been a little melodramatic.

At the chiropractor visit the week before, I’d finally had success—my hips had not moved at all thanks to work with wearing my oh-so-stylish trochanter belt. That meant I graduated to wearing it less, as well as increasing my level of activity when I did wear it. I have to admit, I worked hard in my yoga classes with that belt. However, I did have to exercise in Deep Water class without it.

By last Thursday night, I could not even walk close to a normal pace as we worked with our dogs and the behaviorist.

On Friday, when the chiropractor asked how I was doing, I told him much better except for that walking thing—which was really not improving.

So he attacked the painful spots and then followed-up by having me lie down on the roller table where I also received more of the electro-stimulation treatment. Then he suggested I follow the session with a slow walk.

My fifteen minutes on the trail were excruciating while my stride mirrored the length of my foot. I just assumed that my hips had not even held half an hour.

“Gloom, despair, and misery on me . . .”

I’d forgotten the chiropractor had stated that in a perfect world I’d go straight to a deep tissue massage, not a walk. What I think I was really experiencing was a reaction to having the scar tissue manipulated—I know from doing restorative yoga that focused release of longtime toxins can initially cause intense pain.

Not only was I not sentenced to my chair for the whole weekend, but I also continue to notice improvements.

I think I am getting better.

Thank goodness I didn’t receive the new DVD/CD for ZUMBA instructors on Friday. I might have thrown it at the wall, but instead, yesterday, I got out the music, popped it in the CD player, and started figuring out which songs I plan to learn in order to teach.

My beat goes on . . .

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