I sink into the water.
Outside, at the hot springs, the air is cool and river still. It smells like sulfur, but after a few minutes I don’t notice. I’m simply lost in the “healing waters.” That’s what they are called because supposedly the minerals in the hot springs help with a number of ailments. Personally, I enjoy the way the heat releases the tension in my body. I especially like soaking my feet – they cramp easily. I also like the heat around the middle of my body – a source of pain between a miscarriage, a surgery, and fertility frustrations over the past 12 months.
I lean back against the stone wall of the bath and watch.
There is a man standing under a waterfall. The water thuds against his back. What is he healing? Tight shoulders? Work stress? Or something deeper . . . the loss of a family member or friend?
In another pool there is a woman with her eyes closed. Maybe she is washing away the pain of divorce. Or abuse. Or a dog named Marley.
I don’t know. I’m just guessing. But when I start thinking about all the different types of “loss” people deal with, it’s clear we all need healing. One of the professors at the university I attended in Southern California just lost his house in the fires. One of my friends just gave birth, a joyful event . . . and a loss of personal time.
Loss of age . . . loss of a job . . . loss of a breast . . . loss of mental agility . . . loss of a city after a move . . . loss of a child who goes off to college . . . and on and on and on it goes.
I read a paragraph in a book the other day about the importance of taking time to heal. The author said that when we step back and heal ourselves we become aware of a world full of people in need. My time of retreat is coming to a close. I hope I don’t go back home and get too wrapped up in schedules and deadlines and the frustrations of city traffic. I hope I can heed the author’s advice and help heal the world in little personal ways.
Thanks to all who have stopped by and/or left comments as the Wasa blog gets underway.
A couple people mentioned that this blog has inspired them to try yoga. I know the feeling. My husband inspired me to try yoga years ago after I watched him ease into a backbend with grace. I’ve mentioned that before, but what I failed to mention was the fact that I didn’t like my first yoga class. Or my second. Or third;
I knew the benefits of yoga – flexibility, awareness, inner stillness – were practices I needed in my life, but during class I couldn’t hold the poses. It takes time to find balance and build strength. Also, the teacher wasn’t a good fit. Plus, I kept slipping on my mat because I was wearing socks. Not to mention my loose-fitting t-shirt flipped over my head when I’d bend over for Downward Facing Dog.
So my first suggestion is to wear comfortable “stretchy” clothes. Slip off your shoes (and socks) before entering the studio. Bare feet help you “stick” to the mat. If you don’t have a mat, you can rent one. Sometimes they’re free, sometimes $1.
Okay, now you’re in the studio before class has begun. Believe it or not this can be the most intimidating part.
A few years ago I remember encouraging a friend to try a yoga class. We were traveling in San Francisco and the class was at 6am. I couldn’t attend because of another obligation (um, I believe it was sleep), but my friend was a super early riser and decided to try yoga for the first time. Ten minutes later she clamored back into the room complaining that when she walked in the studio all the students were gathering foam blocks, long white straps, and bolsters, and she had no idea what these were, if she needed any, and, if so, which ones she should take.¼br />
Oh gosh, I felt awful for sleeping in. I had completely forgotten how many times I’ve felt that exact same way when I’ve tried something new. Like the first time I tried a spinning class. I was standing in the cool dark studio when a group of women walked in all holding biking shoes (biking shoes? Oops! I didn’t have those). Then they began turning knobs, lowering the seats, and adjusting the handlebars. I was outta there in 30 seconds (I went back the next day – it turns out you don’t need biking shoes and the instructor showed me how to adjust the parts – but still).
Even just a few weeks ago I tried a new yoga studio and noticed the students folding blankets in a manner I’d never seen before. I’ve been practicing yoga for years and I still felt a bit out of place. I wasn’t sure if I should fold the blanket “my” way or “their” way. That question was answered when the teacher began class and showed everyone what she wanted us to do.
So, a few more suggestions: don’t worry about the blocks, straps, and blankets. They are props to help people (like me) adjust in certain poses. If you need a prop during a pose, the yoga teacher will bring it to you, or you can ask her before class begins. Also, consider brining a friend to your first class if that would make you feel more comfortable (a friend who has practiced before can show you the ropes; if not, you two can navigate the waters together).
Now class has begun . . . and you don’t understand a word the teacher is saying. Chaturanga Dandasana? Urdhva Mukha Svanasana? Virabhadrasana II? The same thing happened to me in a dance class once where the teacher was using terms I’d never heard. The students around me began spinning and hopping and twirling about as I stood there, motionless and a little annoyed (it was a “beginners” class). Finally I gave up and tried to sneak out of the room. A woman came over and touched me on the shoulder, “You just don’t know the lingo yet. You’ll get the hang of it,” she promised.
And I promise – you’ll get the hang of yoga lingo. I do, however, recommend finding an “intro to yoga” course if you’re trying it for the first time. After trying yoga and not liking it, I finally went to this 2-day orientation at Yoga Works. Instead of jumping right into sun salutations, we sat in a circle and talked. The teacher showed us how to breathe, answered our questions, and walked us slowly through the fundamental poses. That’s when yoga began to change to my life.
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The waiter walks over and sets a glass of ice-water on the table.
“Ew,” my mom says when he walks away. “I don’t like it when restaurants put lemons in your drink.”
For years she’s claimed that lemon wedges have tons of bacteria – picked up because of how much they are handled by bare human hands – and this YouTube video seems to prove she’s right, reporting that over 77% of lemon wedges in drinks tested positive for disease causing bacteria.
My husband has an issue with restaurants that place the silverware directly on the table instead of on a napkin or tablecloth. When I tell him the tables are washed, he says, “Yeah, but have you seen those ratty rags they use?”
What a bunch of germaphobes!
Except I have my issues too. I don’t like touching menus. I especially can’t stand it when a waiter places a menu down on top of my plate. I mean really, when are menus cleaned?
I’m totally of the belief that exposure to bad bacteria can build my immune system. And, logically, I know that menus are only one of many places I’m coming across a boatload of germs. But still, menus freak me out.
Do you have any quirky things you’re a germ-freak about?