Category Archives: yoga

HURTS SO GOOD: WHAT IT’S LIKE TO GET DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE

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I had my first deep tissue massage yesterday, people.

It was pretty extreme.

You know that pain, the kind that comes from stretching or soreness, that makes you go “ahhhh it HURTS!!” But, you also love it? That was this, times ten thousand.

The particular massage therapist (he works at Myo) had come recommended to me from a friend. I was whining on Saturday night about having uneven hips, immobile shoulders, lower back pain – basically, I was practicing for when I’m 85 years old.

“I can’t lift my right leg in a front attitude!” I said, with the same amount of distress one might reserve for their right leg falling off.

“Go see my guy,” said Fannie. “He’ll change your life.”

+++

When I met Barton, I told him I was an aerialist.

“Ah, yes,” he said knowingly. “I see a lot of you. Let me guess. Shoulders?”

“It’s like I can hardly move them!” I yelped.

“Noted. What else?”

“I’ve been stretching my right hip out for years and it’s still horribly uneven. Also, when I bend forward, like this?” I demonstrated, “my lower back is stiff and sore.”

“Uh-huh, uh-huh,” Barton said, nodding. “Your uneven hips are probably creating pressure on your back, so we have to adjust you. So I’ll let you get ready. Be right back.”

I disrobed, limped over to the massage table and crawled underneath the covers. Barton re-entered the room, and turned on some music.

“Let’s begin,” he said.

+++

Now, I’ve had several simple relaxation massages before. But this was the first time I had ever booked a sports injury type of massage, the kind that don’t necessarily feel pleasant.

I mean, they can, but their real purpose is to work some shit out.

“What are you-OH MY GOD-what in the world are you doing to my hip?” I asked Barton early in the massage.

“Well, I’m basically moving your fascia around and bulldozing through some trigger points,” he said, “which are located pretty deep down in there. Feel that?”

“YES!!! Yes I feel that! Owwweeee!”

It made me wonder how many interesting sounds the front desk lady at Myo Massage hears during her day.

Anyway, in between feeling extreme pain (the good kind) and relief, I would get ticklish when Barton was pressing down on trigger points. He said it was because they were little masses of contracted muscle, gripping onto tension either because of excessive use or because of sitting.

“We weren’t really made to sit,” he said. “Wait, what is it that you do again?”

“I’m a writer,” I groaned. “And I just started teaching yoga.”

“So basically you’re really really active, or, sedentary?”

“Yes,” I moaned sheepishly.

“I see,” said Barton. “Hang on, this is going to hurt.”

“AHHHHHHolySHITohmygodohmygodohmygod!” I cried. “What the hell is happening back there?”

“Whew! Big knot in your back, but we got it,” said Barton, brushing his hands off like a surgeon.

After our hour was up, Barton left to get me some water. I rolled off the table, and stood.

My shoulders could move again. My lower back was almost pain-free. The right hip wasn’t perfect, but it was better.

“Yeah, you might hurt a bit tomorrow,” warned Barton.

But I skipped out like a kid with a lollipop.

+++

As I type this, I am so freakin’ sore.

My whole lower back is achy, and my right hip feels like somebody has been punching it. Which I guess is what Barton did, in slow motion.

Right afterward I was languid and sleepy for most of the day, and my aerialist friends told me it was because my kidneys were working so hard to process the toxins that massage releases. I mean I honestly felt like I was in a mini coma for a solid three hours so it’s possible I have a really toxic body.

“I try to only sit for 15 hours a week,” said Susan, my aerial partner.

As a writer, it’s hard not to sit. And it almost seems like any white collar job where one is financially successful and makes lots of money involves sitting. Unless you do a standing desk. (Do you do a standing desk?)

I’m wondering now if it’s all the sitting, and not all the aerial, that’s jacking up my body. Probably a little bit of both.

Or, maybe it’s just being a human being. Our bodies are still evolving, and they’re pretty damn efficient, but they’re not perfect. We can think our way out of most problems, but all that thinking gets stored in the secret recesses of our bodies, little capsules of anxiety and worry and memory that twist our muscles this way and that, until the Bartons of the world go in and release them.

I wonder what having a perfectly free body is like.

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MY YOGA CLASS!

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My yoga class is here!

Starting this coming Wednesday, I have a weekly class at Four Elements Austin, a jaw-droppingly gorgeous studio in downtown Austin (here’s a pic). Light-filled and perched two floors above street level, Four Elements is both a floor yoga and aerial yoga space! For now I’m just teaching floor, but possibly down the road, aerial yoga too.

My Wednesday night class is happy hour time, starting at 6:30p. It’s called Tech Detox Yoga, and is the kind of yoga class I always wanted someone to teach me: Poses, mantras, and breath work to flush out all those technology particles that build up during the day, and to work out any stiffness in your hips/butts/shoulders/wrists that come from sitting at your desk!  I know that whenever I’ve been working at a computer all day, or even just after a good plunge down the social media rabbit hole, I feel off, and so that’s what this class is designed to address. This is an all levels class, with modifications you can tailor to your own body, so bring a friend! Bring Grandma! (Never underestimate Grandma.)

Sign up here

**A NOTE ON PARKING**

If you work downtown and are in walking to distance to Four Elements, that’s ideal. If you don’t, it’s street parking on Congress, so give yourself plenty of time to find a spot. You’ll want to park near Manuel’s, between 3rd and 4th (or as close as you can get).

**STUDIO ENTRANCE**

Is right next door to Manuel’s – literally to the right if you’re outside facing the building. The door to Four Elements doesn’t face outward the street, but is tucked into the entryway, so just look for all the yoga-y looking stuff on our front window. Open door, walk up stairs to second floor, and there you are!

I’m so excited, you guys. It’s going to be like this! Not really, but how awesome is that little kid?

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ESSENTIAL: Today is Austin Free Day of Yoga.

Do you guys do yoga? 

I am convinced that yoga makes you a better person. It’s true. It makes you forgive your body for its limitations, and in turn, makes you more forgiving in general. Take my hamstrings for example. They are so tight that I can’t touch my toes. Which would normally make me embarrassed, but in yoga, you hold poses for so long that eventually I have to give up my silent vendetta against the tightness and just say, “it’s ok, I forgive you hamstrings.” And then I can stretch a little deeper.

Yoga also makes you more vulnerable, which is good for all of us, but especially those of us who walk around feeling mostly competent, most of the time.  A while back I took a naked yoga class, and afterward a guy in the class revealed that that that, this particular session, was his very first yoga class EVER.  Can you imagine?   

That is some serious vulnerability.

Anyway, I have tried lots of yoga in my day, and even taught it at one point. Don’t be too impressed, because like the hamstrings, I am still a stiff grandma in certain poses. But here in town, out of bikram yoga, all-women’s yoga, naked yoga (I really need to tell that story sometime), hatha yoga, 24 Hour Fitness yoga, hot yoga, outdoor yoga, and many other yogas I’ve probably forgotten, there is one studio that is consistently amazing, and you get to try it for free today.

It is Dharma Yoga, and it is on Guadalupe. It is one of the few places in town (besides Yoga Yoga) that offers teacher training, and it is very Buddhist in its approach. You know how I’m cuckoo for Buddhism these days.

Yesterday, during vinyasa, our teacher handed out a piece of paper with these words on it:

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

What does that phrase mean to you?

When I read it, I immediately thought: “Oh, that’s because the beginner gets so excitable about all these possibilities which are probably WRONG, while the expert can hone in on the CORRECT possibilities.”

Very un-Buddhist of me.

As it turns out, that’s not what the phrase means. Our instructor explained that the beginner’s mind is open, ready to try new things without preconceived notions of how it all “should” go. The expert’s mind, on the other hand, is much more narrow, because they approach everything in life assuming there’s a right way and a wrong way to carry out operations.

Guess who walked into class yesterday with expert’s mind!

Anyway, every single class I have been to at Dharma Yoga teaches me these little pearls of wisdom, because the founder, Keith Kachtick, and all of the instructors there teach class on a Buddhist foundation. That doesn’t mean you have to BE Buddhist or know anything about Buddhism – it pretty much stays at the level of the quote above. 

Also, everyone plays excellent music at Dharma Yoga, which is a HUGE deal.  I can be wrecking house on the yoga mat, having the best time, and then the instructor pops in grocery store smooth jazz and it’s all over.  “No – NO,” I think, and then instead of holding half moon pose or forgiving my hamstrings, my mind gets all judge-y and pissed. Which I’m pretty sure are emotions opposite of yoga.

This kind of thing never happens at Dharma Yoga. It’s a CD collection you can trust.

Austin Free Day of Yoga is happening today at tons of times and locations around town, and Dharma Yoga is participating. I really recommend checking it out. Keith said yesterday that Free Day is typically kind of raucous and crazy, since there are so many new people, but even so I think you will be enchanted. It’s right on the Drag, so you get this feeling of being ensconced in a special, sacred cocoon, while the city rages outside.

Photo credits here and here.

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