Saturday, March 21, 2009

Yoga and Pilates

I teach pilates twice a week at a gym in Baltimore. I have been instructing for five years and am still as enthusiastic and motivated about teaching as I was when I started. I completed hundreds of hours of training through Power Pilates in New York. Looking back on it I am utterly amazed that I would have put so much time and effort and expense to learn a new career. I teach entirely for fun, and cannot imagine depending on it for my existence. On the other hand, many people teach pilates for a living and do well. Since I cannot get a license to practice medicine in Ecuador, and will not be a psychiatrist for a year (does one ever stop being a psychiatrist?), I wonder if I will find a studio that will hire me. Of course I will have to teach in Spanish!

Yoga does not come naturally to me. Perhaps my body is too old or not designed to be a pretzel. When I bring my daughters with me to a yoga class, I am stunned at how pliable their young bodies are. Maya was told that she was a yogi in her former life. After years of false starts, I finally became committed to trying yoga when the back surgeon I saw told me that it was not a matter of if but when I would resort to surgery to relieve the pain in my lower back. I was determined NOT to pursue the surgery and decided that I would do all I could to improve the pain with alternative methods. Yoga was supposed to open up the space between the vertebrae. I found yoga practice to be awfully painful the first several months. Only very very gradually did I improve. I chose a power yoga class that was 90 minutes long and in a stiflingly hot and humid room. I have improved, but still move like a novice. What is significant is that the pain is better when I regularly go and use pilates principles to protect my lower back. For six weeks in the fall, I joined a meditation group which met weekly. I was never able to meditate for any length of time, or at least I did not make the effort. But I practiced yoga five to six times weekly, and that made a difference for my back. I am a convert now, and try to get there at least three times weekly.

Sid is the yoga instructor who owns and runs the yoga studio. He is guru and hero to many. My daughter Tara was an instant fan when she joined me in the sutdio, and Maya wants to practice yoga only with Sid. It is Sid who is bringing the yoga group to the Amazon. I am helping with organization and practicalities. He will lead the group and make it a life altering experience. The more I imagine this trip we have planned the more excited and enthusiastic I am. It will be awesome!

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