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Saturday, February 24, 2007

yogaahhh...

who knew that working a 9-t0-5 desk job could be hazardous to your health?

ever since i started working at my new job, i've spent a good chunk of my days attending meetings, viewing powerpoint presentations, generating spreadsheets, reading specifications, filling out forms, and replying to email. in short, i've been spending most of my time sitting and staring at screens.

so it's no wonder that by the end of the third week, my body was a wreck. my eyes were tired, my neck was stiff, my back was sore, and my shoulders were hunched over. not only that, but thanks to the doughnuts, cake, cookies, and chips that my officemates have been bringing in, i had gained back the weight that i successfully lost last month :(

last friday, after scanning my yoga class options for the evening, i found myself torn between a 7:30pm relaxing flow with stephanie phelan at maha and a 7:15pm forrest session with ben fritz at truyoga. even if i knew that i wanted to relax with stephanie like i did the week before, the need to burn those extra calories won out; i chose to go see ben.

friday night traffic being the way it is in LA, after a brief detour home to change, i reached truyoga with only a few minutes to spare before class was to begin. i signed in and noticed that i was the only one on the roster so far. ben walked in soon after i got there, so while waiting for the other students to show up, i told him all about the stiffness going on up and down my spine -- the neck, the shoulders, the back -- and mentioned that i was considering taking an inversions workshop that sunday. of course, it only dawned on me while we were talking that trying to do a headstand on a sore neck was a bad idea...

after the students from the earlier class made their way out, ben and i made our way into the classroom. we continued to talk about the different yoga poses he would try to work into the class to ease the tension in my upper back. since it was still just the two of us in the room, we walked over to the "rope" wall (actually, they're straps but they serve the same purpose) and he put me in a supported uttanasana to start loosening things up while we waited for the others to show up.

ten minutes into the class, and still no new faces. looking more and more like it was going to be a private session, ben's massage therapy background kicked in. he had me lay on my back with two tennis balls under my upper back. as i relaxed into the pressure coming from underneath, he gently pressed down on my chest to add even more pressure. he instructed me to relax my abdomen as i breathed slowly in and out. after holding that position for a few minutes, he held my head and slowly lengthened my neck, easing the tension. ahhh...

by now, it was clear that everyone but us were busy partying elsewhere because we were the only ones in class. but as far as i was concerned, i was much happier where i was. after all, how often does one get a one-on-one with a teacher whose classes are usually well-attended?

we spent the rest of the time by the wall, where we started out with a supported downward dog. using the straps, ben had me concentrate on moving my hips up and back towards the wall, and while doing that, easing up on the rigidity in my back. we later did some easy backbends along with an interesting assortment of abdominal, inner thigh, and upper arm toning and strengthening poses. and since i had talked about taking that inversion workshop, he had me spend some time in dolphin pose to work on my shoulder and upper arm alignment.

finally, for a delicious ending to the evening's class, i hung upside down along the wall, suspended by the straps placed around my hips. with my head, arms, and shoulders hanging freely, i could feel everything else slowly being stretched -- my neck, my back, my hips. all the effects of gravity and too much sitting were gradually being undone. and while i didn't get the calorie-burning session i originally had hoped for, this was definitely what i needed :)

thanks, ben, and by the way, happy birthday!

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