Category Archives: Stress Relief

Downward Facing Dog

Yoga on a beach always looks so peaceful and idyllic. It’s something on my bucket list. All of the people in travel brochures always look so stress-free, happy and refreshed during their practice. Yes, I know that’s all staged and those people are just models, but it’s still perfect-looking enough to make me want to try it someday. In the meantime…

I’ve dabbled in yoga here and there for a few years. But the fact is, I’m just not that flexible. I get discouraged when my body just won’t do what the perfectly-color-coordinated-in-their-yoga-gear people can easily do on TV. Number one – my yoga gear usually consists of a ratty t-shirt and shorts. Number two – most of my yoga attempts have been with a DVD or rarely-found TV program (complete with commercial breaks.) Number three – my Type-A-ness wants to do everything right. And when my stiff muscles just won’t stretch as far as they’re supposed to, I get discouraged and feel anything but relaxed and refreshed.

I thought I’d found a good workout. Some show on the Green Network – before our cable provider generously decided not to carry it anymore. So I turned to DVD’s. Well, one DVD. Rodney Yee and Power Yoga. It’s doable. But after a couple of years of the same practice – I’m bored. Plus, something about a man in a Speedo talking me through yoga poses just bothers me. It does. Rodney has me interested in exploring other options but I’m at a standstill.

I tried a yoga class at the gym once. It felt good at the time but I was basically unable to move the next day. Something told me that you’re not supposed to feel that way after a good practice, so I didn’t go back there. I have friends who do Bikram, but stories of having to leave the studio and be sick have me pretty intimidated about trying it myself. So here’s my question – how do I get started on a good daily practice that will let me progress at my own speed, but still see results? Classes or DVDs?

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Filed under Exercise, Rodney Yee, Stress Relief, Yoga

A Jaunt With Jung

So, on the hunt for something interesting to do out and about this week for my Artist’s Date (mandated by my new guide, The Artist’s Way, I happened upon a Facebook post from the Museum District. At a loss, I clicked and started to read – and was immediately sucked in. I had heard of Carl Jung. Wasn’t he one of those early psychological types we had to study as part of child development or educational psychology? Scanning the foggy depths of my brain, I had only the vaguest recollection of Freud/Piaget/Jung as quickly memorized facts for a distant midterm exam. So I was surprised to learn that Houston actually has a Jung Center. More than that – this place actually offers workshops and sessions, the latter being the topic of the earlier-mentioned Facebook post. The Jung Center offers Feldenkrais sessions on Tuesdays. That’s right, Feldenkrais. I admit, I had to Google that one. ‘A somatic method to movement instruction.’ Wh-at?! Sounded interesting, so off I went.

Since the highways were parking-lot free, I arrived down in the Museum District with plenty of time to spare this trip. Imagine my surprise when the Jung Center was open for business – and I discovered a Jungian art gallery just inside:

Ironically enough, this first piece is titled ‘Alone.’ Which exactly described my feelings at the moment. Surrounded by a bustling city in the midst of an art gallery, I felt alone and a bit out of place. Almost turned tail and went back home. But, Feldenkrais I had come for and Feldenkrais I was going to get!

At the back of the Center there is a small movement studio. Mary Beth, the instructor, soon arrived and gave me an overview, set me up with a mat and gently reminded me that sensory stimulation is to be minimized in the movement room. Hint taken. IPhone put away and silenced. After two other participants arrived, we began.

What followed was an hour of sensory introspection. Lying on a soft mat covered with a warm blanket, the lights dim and the only sound that of her voice, Mary Beth led us on a journey of minimal movement but maximum results. Instructed to focus on breathing and tiny movements of the joints in my left hand and fingers, I became aware of the jerkiness of even the most simple bend of my fingers. The movements gradually progressed up the forearm, elbow and into the shoulder. Slow, simple progressions accompanied by intensive thoughts and awareness of how each movmeent felt versus how it looked. At the end of the hour I can honestly say I felt more relaxed than I have in months – and the usual pain and stiffness in my neck and shoulders was completely gone on the left side. I felt lopsided. Unbalanced. Desperately wanted to stay another hour and repeat the movements on the other side – which I couldn’t do but was able to complete later at home, thanks to the handy informational card we got as we left. It detailed the sequence of movements and the purpose of each. Nice – now I have a tool to use next time I am feeling pain.

I do have to say this was a nice change from yoga, Pilates and some of the other types of movement I’ve dabbled in over the years. By focusing on the unconscious as well as feeling the movemetn I was able to identify areas of stress, tension and pain – then work to resolve them. And the mandated time lying in a dark room was just an added bonus…

As I left I took one more lap around the small galleries:

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the Jung Center also has a library and bookstore if you are so inclined. I do have to say that the H-town lunch hour traffic was more manageable than ever before thanks to my heightened relaxation! Check it out – you just might find yourself Feldenkraised!

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Filed under Art, Carl Jung, creativity, Houston, Pain Management, Stress Relief, The Artist's Way