Monday, February 11, 2008

It's Korean Yoga for Me!

The socks in the last post were given to me from the owner of a yoga studio. The red dot is where I should be pushing off from when I walk. My Korean girlfriend came down last Monday, knowing I was interested in starting yoga, and found this studio not too far from our apartment (1/2 mile). I told her I only wanted to go twice a week since I have so many craft projects and maedeup to do.

We arrived at the studio and sat down for a consultation along with some delicious tea. The owner then took me into another room for an evaluation. She had me lay down on a mat and proceeded to run her hands, palm parallel to my body, all over me and down each limb. So far, a piece of cake for me. Then she took her finger and started pressing into my sternum - HARD! Of course, I winced and kinda moaned. She told my girlfriend that I needed to relax and ignore the pain. She pressed for about five minutes before she stopped. I was relieved, but only momentarily. She then took her finger and pressed somewhere on my hip bone and it hurt even more than the sternum. I thought I was going to die, it really, really hurt. I closed my eyes and tried to block it out, but it didn't work at all.

She said that my energy was being blocked and I needed A LOT of work. No kidding. She then had me try to put my legs up and over my head and try to touch the matt with my toes. Nope, I couldn't do that. She then had me stand up and wanted me to slap my lower stomach area with my open palms repeatedly. Harder and harder until it was really painful. I had to do this for about five minutes which really is a lifetime when you are not used to doing this. My arms were just killing me and my stomach, let's not even go there. I was sure I had done some organ damage. She said this is very good for you and it is how they warm up before yoga class. We finished off by having me sit cross-legged. I can do that but she wanted my kness to touch the floor. That turned out to be an impossibility.

Afterwards, we discussed the plans for me. She said that I needed yoga five days a week and she wanted me to start immediately. Since this was last Monday and the Lunar New Year Holiday was Wednesday through Friday, I told her that I wanted to start this Monday, the 11th. So I am going to yoga five days a week. I start at 10:10 to warm up, class is from 10:30 am until 11:30 am and then another ten minutes to cool down.

Today was my first day and I was pretty scared. I was ushered into a changing room the size of a small walk in closet and given my uniform. I changed and was led into another room where a bunch of Koreans were already warming up. Warm up consists of walking around the room, walking using heel to ball of your foot. The next thing we did was stand in a circle and hold hands and recite a bunch of Korean. It was kinda like a pep talk. The first Korean to grab my hand to form the circle was not the instructor but an older Korean man. Yikes, I was scared - I haven't had the best experiences with older Korean men. I found out that he knew English really well and he really took care of me during class since the instructor didn't know any English.

We then spread out and starting pounding on our stomachs, then proceeded to pound on our arms all the way up and down, front and back, then down the front of the body and then the back of the body. This had been five or more minutes and it was getting hard to even hold my arms up. All of a sudden, another older Korean man came up behind me and starting pounding on my back really hard. It hurt! I was so shocked that I turned around and said , "What the hell!" I usually don't swear but when I'm really shocked, it just comes out. Sorry Mom, skip this part. He stopped immediately and the other Korean said he was just showing me how to do it right. I told him that I wasn't ready to do it right but maybe I would be in a few weeks. He laughed.

Class consisted of lots of strange body positions along with meditation. I was physically able to do about one third of the exercises. After class we sat for tea and my new older Korean friend asked me how old I was and I told him 48 as of yesterday. He is 72 and I couldn't believe it, he looked 40 and I told him so. His English was very good and I told him so. He just beamed. He said he learned it during the war when they sent him to South Carolina to be trained. I'm assuming it must of been the Korean War but I didn't ask. I also met another woman who is my age and she is learning English so she could speak some. She has six children which is really rare here but she said that she is so happy that I am going to be her friend. It was nice to meet people that are my age. They asked a lot of questions: Are you a teacher? Is your husband in the military?...

I had a great time and the Korean with the six children wanted to know where I was going after class. I told her I needed to get a few things from Home Plus. She said, "Me too." So we went together and I think she wanted to shop together but as she got her cart, I told her I just needed milk and needed to go home. She said, "Ok, see you tomorrow" and off I went. I was so exhausted I couldn't wait to get home.

The more I sit today, the sorer I become. I thought I was in ok shape, I walk a lot and lift weights but the yoga definitely used muscles that may have not been used since I was a kid. But I feel great and I know I have just embarked on a life changing journey. I never thought Korea would change me so much, but I am definitely not the same Becky.


Helena said...

Oh my goodness. That sounds... painful. Relax and ignore the pain. Urgh.

I heard about NamDaeMun burning. Such a tragedy.

Becky said...

Helena: Today was somewhat better, although I was pretty sore. But is really is making me feel great.
Namdaemun is such a tragedy. The Koreans are really in shock over it. It's just too sad.

Becky said...

Helena: Today was somewhat better, although I was pretty sore. But is really is making me feel great.
Namdaemun is such a tragedy. The Koreans are really in shock over it. It's just too sad.

CreekHiker said...

Yoga can be rough when you start so take it easy. Only go as far as your body allows.

I thought about you on your bday...I'm always in a funk as it is my dad's too... I'm an awful friend!

so much to tell you about CHA. good show. I will have to call.

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