Yesterday was the first day of summer and although many people have experienced summer type temperatures for a while now we cannot say the same in Maine. When summer arrives on the calendar it does not always mean summer has arrived for us to enjoy it yet. We have had complete washout June’s, and mid 50’s in June but this year we are experiencing some very pleasant weather and some much needed sunshine. The summer solstice brought a long day of sunlight as well as a warm enjoyable summer day in all.
Since it was bright and warm first thing I was able to get up early and get first fresh air. Not a lot of people were out enjoying this incredibly beautiful day but I am really one of the earlier ones. I got back to the house and let my husband know I was headed out for a couple of hours of yoga. This is at the studio near my house where I’m practicing vinyassa flow and meeting the people right here in my community. He asked if I was going to ride my bike to yoga which got me thinking that I do need to figure out how to get to yoga on my bike with my mat and if need be change from biking clothes to yoga clothes or try to incorporate the both somehow. However, I don’t really want to practice yoga in my big butt padded biking shorts.
When I arrived at yoga the studio was full and I pleasantly surprised since this was my first Saturday practice at my new studio. Our instructor was explaining the summer solstice is a new beginning and that the Buddhists celebrate this new beginning by doing 108 sun salutations in appreciation. We decided as a group we did not want to take on this endeavor but we were on board with the philosophy of Be Here. Being in the here without regard to yesterday or tomorrow is part of the practice and on the longest day of the year with the warm weather, the energy in the room, and our 5 sun salutations we celebrated the first day of summer. I am looking forward to many more weeks of warm weather and new experiences.
Ever notice how this time of year a lot of people are starting to cleanse, diet, detox, start over and ramp up their routines? The gyms are full of new faces, the classes are a little larger, the wait time for certain weight equipment is stretched and the locker rooms have an overused smelled to them. Year after year this is the routine as people get bathing suit ready bodies and tighten everything up a little more so that spontaneous BBQ parties don’t come with an overwhelming amount of guilt. I don’t ebb and flow through yearly routines like other’s because mine routine is more constant but even I need to cleanse, re-focus, re-balance and re-evaluate my routine from time to time. Now is that time for me.
I have been committed to Bikram yoga for nine years and when I say committed I was truly committed to a 5 day a week routine but I found myself thinking of Bikram more as a chore than a yoga practice. I was getting to the point that when I was headed into the studio I couldn’t wait to get back out. This has never happened to me before so I clearly needed a break. I agonized over giving up the heat, my yogie ladies, and the routine of getting hot and sweaty but the time had come for me to let go and re-focus.
I need a yoga practice and I am also one that commits whole heartedly when I want to do something so I found a yoga studio near my home that has vinyassa flow, Thai Chi and Qi Gong as well Yin, Pilates, and restorative yoga. I made a yearlong commitment to this studio, found the classes I was interested in and set up my calendar with my appointment times. Exercise for me are like doctor appointments because they are all part of my management program. I treat each class I take the same way I treat a personal training session and it goes in my calendar and I only cancel if there is no way around it. Sure there are days I don’t want to do something but I don’t have the luxury of deciding not to. If I really feel like I cannot do my exercise then I adjust and walk but I take my medications everyday as prescribed and do my work out routine everyday as prescribed. The difference is my medications are prescribed by my doctors and my exercise is prescribed by me. This way I also have the luxury of changing my prescription when needed and this was needed.
So, what have I done so far? I signed up for my yearlong commitment on Memorial Day, May 26th. In the 3 weeks I have been going I have indulged in Qi Gong/Thai Chi and enjoyed this practice so much that I bought a DVD recommended by the instructor to have at home on the few nights a week that I cannot get to the yoga studio. I have enjoyed Pilates and find that even with my core strength she still gets me in places that I forget I have muscles until they are sore. The Yin is so hard but so rewarding as it goes deep into my connective tissues and just when I think I can’t take it one more minute we do 2 more minutes and I come out of the pose thinking what a relief. My vinyassa flow is getting much better and the most amazing benefit of this yoga practice is that I am sleeping so well each and every night. There are 3 nights a week I don’t have the studio available to me so on Sat, Sun and Wed night I have my own Qi Gong practice that I do right before bed to ensure a wonderful rested night’s sleep. As each day goes by and learn something new about the studio I have joined or the people I am meeting or the practice I’m doing I realize this was a good move for me. I am not saying I won’t ever go back to Bikram but I have a new commitment this year and I am throwing myself into my new yoga practice 100%.
I do miss the Bikram ladies very much but that is what lunch is for and although I also miss the heat very much, that is what summer is for. I have some regret not signing back up for Bikram classes but then I remember that I’m only 2 miles from my home when I come out of the studio and my body is thanking me for my new found commitment.
Today not only am I celebrating 341 days without a flare but also that I rode and finished the 50K Tour DE Cure this morning with my step-father. This ride was to benefit Diabetes which I don’t have but finding cures for other autoimmune diseases will only help in some day finding a cure for MCTD as well.
Speaking of benefits I received tremendous benefit from this ride. I went from never riding a bike to deciding to participate in this cause. I first started with spinning classes all winter long and in the spring bought myself my first bike ever. I chose a road bike for the simple fact that I had to ride about 33 miles and wanted to do it quickly. There are certainly bikes out there more comfortable then a road bike but why prolong the ride by making it feel longer than it needs to be. The road bike I bought was perfect for me and I just started training. Greg and I rode a few Saturdays together and he was a wonderful coach. He stayed right with me the whole ride today and was such a great supporter. It was really fun. My husband, Matthew and mom were at the start and finish line to watch us go and especially to watch us come back.
We lined up with 700 other riders but put a little space between us since I’m still getting use to getting and out of my baskets. I’m not ready for cycling shoes just yet but maybe for the next race or ride I’ll be ready. They gave the start off and we were off and running or in this case cycling. The take off went well and all we were all bunched up everyone was careful and no falls, crashes, or wipe outs. The ride was incredibly beautiful all along the ocean coast and the sea breeze felt so good on our faces. It was 86 degrees here and for Maine that is hot and unheard of. I loved it. On mile 7 there was a rest stop but we didn’t need anything but a picture so we took one quick and got back on the road. At that rest stop is when things started to space out. There were several miles where it was just us and no one in front of us or behind us. There was a mandatory rest at mile 16 to let them know you were still on course that we took a minute and got back on road. By mile 27 I was feeling very much like I needed to get off my bike but we were almost there.
We saw the 4 miles left sign and I knew I was going to make it. 3 miles and I’m feeling like now is the time to stretch my legs and try to get feeling back in my hands. I had lost feeling about mile 11 but with Raynaud’s that is to be expected. 2 miles left and now I’m getting so anxious and then I see it 1 mile left and we are home free. Greg says look good going in so keep some juice in the tank. As though I have any juice left that I might be able to reserve, but I knew what he meant. We head up the last hill of the day and the people are cheering us on and I see Matthew and mom standing there and I just smiled so big I couldn’t believe it I crossed in 2 hours and 24 minutes. Very respectable I do believe and I’m happy with it.
We climbed off our bikes and headed for medals and water and oh yes lunch. We laughed, hugged, high five, ate, hugged some more and felt very accomplished with what we had just done together. It was so great and I’m glad it is done and can be marked off my list. They are already talking about next year but I’m still thinking and enjoying this year.