Friday, September 26, 2014

Getting Out Of My Head With Float Yoga

As Featured In Fig Lancaster

The past few weeks I have been lost in my own head.  When I first started my chemo treatments,  it was not exactly a walk in the park but each week, as I escaped the chemo haze I laced up my sneakers and hit the trails.  I was determined not to let cancer get the best of me.  Running was my escape,  it was where I could think or where I could just zone out to a little Jay Z as I pushed my body to its limits.  
Then they found blood clots and said no exercise.  Something in me broke.  The runs were what was gettingme through the chemo haze,  those runs were my rainbow after the storm.  Two weeks later,  I was cleared to run. Four weeks later my sneakers still lay where I threw them when I last took them off a month and a half ago (and yes I could pick them up and put them away but they look so good flopped in the corner of my living room). 
I handled the cancer diagnosis with ease compared to the blood clots, which have paralyzed me with a completely unnecessary fear.
I decided to try Float Yoga as a way of dialing in a workout.  I pictured myself swaddled in the parachutes, floating through the air as I stretched my hammies. 
It was going to be my workout, that wasn’t a workout.  It was my way of conquering my fear of getting back out there and moving without actually, well, moving. So I grabbed my favorite adventure buddy and off we went. 
I walked in and the lights were dim and the parachutes were hung from the ceiling in 2 lines.  I smiled in blissful,  ignorant calm.  I was going to be one with my inner Zen Monkey.
Fast forward 30 minutes: My heart was beating  out of my chest (occasionally from fear) my sweat soaked bangs were stuck to my face and I was peeling off layers faster than a stripper at last call.
I had walked into the space and right into Bradford, our Yoga instructor and when he asked where I had heard about them,  I told him that my Crossfit coach had sworn this place was heaven. 
Big Mistake. 
I did not tell him it has been 106 days since I had last walked through the door at Crossfit Uncompromised.  I did not tell him that in the last 106 days,  I had my colon (and a giant clinging tumor) yanked out of my body in an emergency surgery.  I did not tell him that I had cancer.  I did not tell him that I was once again trying to squeeze in an adventure before my next chemo week and I did not tell him that for the last 4 weeks,  I  have been PETRIFIED to move.  No, I played it cool.
 Hell,  I think I may have (accidentally) squeezed in a flex.
 He began class by showing us a resting pose where you lean into the parachute. He said this was our happy resting place and that at any point we could return here,  without judgment. I smiled and got comfy,  this was where I planned to be all class…without judgment.  He proceeded to get us seated in our parachutes and swinging.  I LUV swinging…this was soooo my kind of exercise.
Before,  I knew it he leaned back and was toes-over-head. THIS was not happening.  As I began to wiggle forward (and back to the happy resting place),  I looked around and the whole class was toes-over-head.  My adventure buddy was swinging blissfully upside down like she had invented this very move. All of a sudden my happy resting place seemed lonely,  so back I leaned and with relatively little effort I too was swinging upside down.  I experimented with arms to the side,  arms lifted up and after about 30 seconds,  I began to think that I was going to die. 
                                                  Me (trying to look Zen while panicking on the inside)
Surely,  it was not good to be upside down this long.  Then, Bradford began to explain that first timers usually do not stay upside down for more than 7 minutes.  7 MINUTES!!! Now I began to panic,  and became super sensitive to all the sensations,   but I held on and I continued to swing,  and I slowly relaxed.  After a few minutes,  I realize how tightly I was holding my legs when my shins began to HURRT and no matter how relaxed I held them,  I could not get them to stop. 
I flipped back over and went to my happy resting place.  I rubbed my legs a bit and over the next hour continued to amaze myself as I tried new moves.  I thought about running out of there about a hundred times. I think I had about 10 silent mini panic attacks. 
When we went into a suspended plank,  I was certain that my fully healed abdomen incision was going to rip apart.  When we swung into triangle pose and my arm and fingers began to tingle,  I KNEW that there was a blood clot heading straight for my heart. When we did pull-ups and my heart started to beat faster,  I knew I was dying,  right there,  wrapped in a cobalt blue parachute.
Float Yoga was not what I expected.  I typically avoid yoga at all costs because I have no quiet place.  NONE.  AT ALL.  When I have tried yoga in the past,  as soon as you are quiet and in a pose,  I am the one in class humming or planning my grocery list or inwardly critiquing the interior finishes.  I am not meditating. My mind is not free and empty.  
I went to Float Yoga because while  I would not admit it audibly,  I was petrified to get back on the proverbial horse.  I had gotten so lost in my head that despite being cleared by my doctor,  four times, in the last month, I was afraid to move.  Float Yoga was my way of telling myself I had exercised,  when I had not.  Float Yoga was my cheat,  except in the end there was no cheating.
I did exercise.  I sweated and I stretched,  I did pull-ups and squats and somewhere,  mid squat,  my fear got up and sulked out of the room.  I felt this incredible heaviness leave as I realized I really had conquered my fear. I  floated out of that class and when I got into my car I took a deep breath of relief as I let my head sink into the headrest.  It was over, my fear of moving was over. I danced into the living room that night with a smile on my face because I felt like I had finally managed to take a piece of my life back.
Admittedly,  I did not find my quiet place in this class.  In fact,  I mentally wrote half of this blog while wrapped in the most amazing full body vinyasa swing at the end. However, I was challenged waayyyy beyond what I thought possible and when I left, I grabbed a schedule.  I don’t know that I will ever be a yoga convert.  I love Crossfit and running and jumping and feeling like I want to puke at the end of a workout.  I do however,  see myself returning to try the Vampire pose and I can’t think of anything better than a stretching massage to combat the sore achiness after a long week of chemo.
                                            Bradford in Vampire Pose (Seriously,  I want to try that) 
I have 3 more days till chemo, so for now I am going to focus on making the most of them,  starting with a much needed run down my favorite trail,  a frozen margarita and who knows,  I may even get the balls to return to Crossfit.

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