Yoga?  My brother hurt his back at a yoga class with his wife… tailbone is sore…..should I really do this?

Last Sunday a local British expat approached our coffee clutch inviting us to a class she wanted to start for those over fifty.  Why did she come to our tables??  Turns out that Jeanne, Linda, and Tom all do yoga stretches in the morning, at least when time allows.  They find it helps.  Bill asked me if I was interested….surprisingly, Bill wants to give it a try!  He has noticed his joints aren’t as limber as they used to be and perhaps stretching would be good for him.

A few days later Linda, Jeanne, and I receive a group message on Facebook from Nonie asking if we want to try a session.  We all agree on Saturday at eight and the men are actually willing to participate!  Classes are held at Río Chirripó Retreat where there is a marvelous covered studio with impressive views of the Talamanca Mountains.  I could spend all day just relaxing and gazing at them.  It’s wonderful that the walls don’t go all the way to the roof, and there are large windows on one side for a refreshing breeze.

Nonie is gentle and encouraging, nonthreatening, and gives individual attention as needed. We start off very simply by standing and gradually becoming aware of each body part starting with our feet and working up to the head, relaxing bit by bit as we gaze out at the mountains.  This inspires the mountain pose which is simply standing with our arms overhead.  We massage our shoulders as we swing our arms, letting gravity do the work.  Next is tree involving a bit of a balancing act.  While standing on one foot we lift the other knee so it’s perpendicular to the tile floor.  Placing the sole of that foot on the inside of the other thigh actually works as the pressure from the foot seems to cement itself in place.  Breathing and balancing.  Then it’s time to switch legs.  Oh, that right hip is a bit tight!  The one with less bone density is struggling causing the foot planted on the mat to struggle staying in place.  Twist and stretch with the hands behind the back, one from behind the neck and other from below trying to reach the other.  We are all given belts to bridge the connection none of us can really do, and when we switched hand positions we were even more lacking!

My biggest concentration needs to be on breathing so that my muscles relax. We are supposed to be working but not thinking about working. Empty our brains of thoughts and experience the moment. That will take a bit of practice!

From there we progress to other poses…the dog, cat, alternating back and forth between the two.  She wants us to squat….that won’t help my tailbone so I decline and watch.  She offers those of us who can’t another position which is then individualized with other rolled mats to help support us.  My toes are not very flexible and find they are not comfortable in many of the floor poses.  I complain they don’t work and am encouraged not to be so hard on them; they work a little bit.  My lower back does not want to be stretched so I have to coddle it.  Later I may be reminded of what I am asking it to do.

A few more exercises and then we end lying on our back on the mats, eyes closed, silence, soft nature whispers nearby, stillness, comfort in the quiet……