Sunday, June 7, 2009

Princess and the Pea in Yoga

At the beginning of Iyengar Yoga classes, we do what one of my fellow students calls Princess and the Pea. We stack up folded Mexican blankets as high as we need to stack them in order to sit cross-legged with our thighs parallel to the floor. We use Mexican blankets because they are dense and don't squish down like regular bed blankets. They are made of the same material as serapes. I usually need at least 4 blankets folded over 4 times. My hip joints are stiff. That's quite a mountain of blankets. Hence the name. I doubt I could feel a pea if it were buried underneath.
My friend's son's 1st grade class had a discussion -- is it a good thing to be able to feel a pea under a stack of mattresses? Is this an important ability for choosing somebody you might want to marry? My friend's son reports that it is a good ability. He thinks it means you're not fat. I don't know if there are any studies comparing sensitivity to peas under blankets or mattresses based on BMI. Anyway, my BMI is in the normal range, and I think if you can detect a pea under even one blanket, it means you're too sensitive. I'm glad my husband can take a few lumps under the mattress and not complain.
Back to the yoga class. Thursday night we spent most of the night on variations of warrior I. The goal is to turn the pelvis towards the front foot. I don't think I've worked so hard with those muscles EVER! I used to be able to do the splits and full lotus. Today I can't even get into half-lotus.
I was still sore from Thursday night's efforts when I went to Saturday morning yoga. I stacked up my 4 blankets. My thighs sagged towards the floor! I tried sitting crosslegged on the floor. My thighs weren't on the floor, but they weren't in pain. Even 3 blankets were more than I needed.
Saturday morning's yoga class worked with the upper back and shoulder region. As I type this, my hips are sore, my shoulders are sore, and I wouldn't trade this for anything. I know that if I do the work, my muscles will learn these new skills that were once natural and easy. I bet I would notice a pea if it were directly under me on the floor.

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