Namasté…yay or nay? First yoga impressions…

Namasté, aaah, if only I had nature’s souplesse and way to adapt to any given situation!
The power to re-energise en to be a able to shut myself and especially my mind down whenever I feel the need to.

yoga

I had my very first yoga session yesterday but deliberately waited until today to write down any ‘yay or nay’ experience…surely giving it some time I would be more able to evaluate how I would feel…wrecked, in pain or just the opposite, more energetic or more at inner peace?

So, let’s flash back to yesterday and give you some background info…I have been playing with the idea to give yoga a try for some months now. With the start of the new school year, so did many activities in our local sports centre. I did some research and mailed the yoga institution for more info especially regarding my medical history and whether yoga would be a great idea or not. I have a back condition called scoliosis, have had multiple surgeries, major part of my spine is fixated and I am in daily pain, backpain, as well as radiating pains. More info on that on one of the earlier posts here Crash and reboot, the chronic back pain tales
As it turned out, next class was scheduled the next afternoon and I was welcome to join in and just give it a try.

I must admit I was not sure what to expect, my knowledge of yoga was what I had seen on tv or read in magazines and it all looked very complicated and technical, that is in my particular case as I am on sports level and more general any movements level rather limited!

I explained the situation to the teacher and found myself a spot front row next to two lovely ladies who made me feel very welcome and told me to just take it slow, not to worry if things seemed difficult the first time and not to over-do. I felt confident to start…and then we had to do the so-called ‘sun greeting’ and I just thought: “What am I doing here?!” Is that to scare off any newcomers or is it just me being not that flexible? Greeting one, I was still ignorant of what was coming…my fellow yogi were already at sun greeting three when I was still trying to figure out all the different positions, realising technically I couldn’t do them all, so I just sat down and felt really really stupid, had that “What was I thinking” moment while I was in a ‘sitting bear’ pose…does that one exist?

But hey, I’m no quitter and I must admit of the entire lesson, that lasted one hour and adding twenty minutes of relaxation, those first minutes were the most challenging. Sure, other poses came along were it seemed my two lovely neighbour ladies (of whom I if I would have to guess their age would say somewhere between seventy and eighty) ignored all laws of gravity: their legs and body high up with the candle pose and switching between different poses with a flexibility and smoothness I could not help admire and be jealous of!

Namasté…my soul honors your soul.  I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides.  I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me.  In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one.

During class the teacher helped me out or handed me some alternatives so in an overall sense this try-out got a ‘yay’ and yes I do feel a bit more pain today but not in a bad way.
I didn’t put too much pressure on my body, after all these years I tend to know my limits, but even more, there was no need…everybody just did the poses on their own pace and level. Aside from the sun-greeting I must admit the relaxation part turned out rather difficult, curious if after a few weeks or months I can see or feel a change there…

So yes…am gonna give it a try, though there might still be a ‘sitting duck’ or ‘hanging bear’ once in a while!

Ingrid

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Off to prison with a smile…only in San Francisco!

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Not just any prison of course, talking about Alcatraz, the Rock, limitless source of inspiration for writers, moviemakers, travelers, etc…bottomless frustration for those who ended up there, most of them already serving a life-long sentence.

Alcatraz
The Rock, Alcatraz Island

Normally offenders couldn’t be sent off to Alcatraz directly by jurisdiction or court, they were transferred to this ‘super max’ institution from other prisons, due to bad behaviour, not complying with the prison life system or being a danger to other inmates, guards, themselves or escape risk. Needless to say some of America’s most notorious criminals called this place ‘home’ before it was shut down in 1963. After closing down the penitentiary this place stayed abandoned for several years as no one came up with an actual plan or great idea to re-use the facilities. In 1969, and this up to 1971 the island was occupied by American Indian activists. Each year, members of all different tribes still return to Alcatraz to remember this occupation. Many Indian people now consider the seizure of Alcatraz to have been a new beginning, a kind of reawakening of American Indian culture, their traditions, identity and spirituality.
Since 1973 Alcatraz falls under the National Park Service and the number of visitors just keeps growing year after year. Just to give you an idea, every year, more than 1.3 million visitors travel to Alcatraz Island!

Need I say that during the planning of our recent road trip and visit to SF this ranked top of the ‘must visit’ list?! On advice we decided to go for the night tour, adding just that extra mystery,  also the experience is more intimate due to lesser crowds, there are additional programs and guided tours and don’t forget the bonus skyline by night on the ferry ride back! Consider that ferry ride a treat on its own, if you’re a bit like me, nose and hairs in the wind!

Do make sure to book as soon as ticket sale starts, which is three months in advance, especially in high season! Do take the English narrated audio-tour and not your native tongue as otherwise the original voices of inmates, guards, etc will be overspoken and that spoils the fun, at least to my opinion! And do take a look in advance at the chalk board mentioning the theme presentations and programs that evening/day because some of them overlap. Wear comfy shoes and enjoy!  Choices will have to be made! In total, ferry ride, audio tour, personal time, taking photos, following one or more guided tours will give you about three hours of fun! Go to Alcatraz Cruises for all info and booking tickets.

After the audio tour we ourselves opted for the presentation on Robert Stroud, better known as Birdman, what a great tour guide we had, natural born story-teller! We got there ten minutes early and could chat with our guide a bit about our road trip, the itinerary, etc…Yosemite NP would be our next destination and guess which one happened to be his favourite Park? So we got a lot of tips on which hikes to do etc,…guess the sweet man just didn’t realise we where not that hardcore hikers and we didn’t have a whole week to spend there, but we loved him and were thankful for it nevertheless!

During the tour we walked from site to site but never long distances and always in the open air so we had perfect views on Golden Gate Bridge , SF skyline and Bay Bridge the whole time.

Alcatraz
How frustrating that must have been, from this point, the city and freedom doesn’t seem that far!

 

Definitely must rewatch that movie now that we have so many inside details on the intriguing person Stroud was!

He was imprisoned after committing a murder but due to several severe incidents with other inmates and afterwards stabbing a guard to death, he got sentenced to death by hanging. Later on this death sentence was changed into life long imprisonement in Leavenworth in a segregated unit, due to his violent character and outbursts. Apparantly Stroud had developed quite an interest in ornithology after finding a baby sparrow and inmates were allowed to have a canary as company in their cells, so that’s how the ‘Birdman’ story begins. He wrote several books on bird and diseases topics and even got the attention of J Edgar Hoover, …rings a bell? He was the director of the FBI…well he ordered a canary with Stroud…only it wasn’t a canary, Stroud had used a sparrow which he had painted! Ah well, make no mistake, this was no nice guy in the end…he was considered a psychopath with an IQ of 134 who manipulated and knew when to stay under the radar. He was transferred to Alcatraz in 1942, none of his birds allowed there, he spent his days in segregation and afterwards in the islands’s prison hospital. He later was moved to a medical prison centre in Springfield. Stroud never saw the movie that made him famous by the way, he died in hospital prison the day before JFK was murdered. This is just a short version of the little bits and anecdotes I remember the guide telling us, if you want to know more on the Birdman or other famous inmates of the Rock, just go to Alcatraz History and Alcatraz Cruises History.

San Francisco
Ferry ride with Alcatraz Cruises to the Rock

San Francisco Bay Alcatraz

No Visit to Alcatraz without the ferry ride, if you’re lucky to have clear skies, enjoy the wonderful views on the bay, SF skyline, the bridges, Angel Island and of course that thrill when approaching the Rock and on your way back, if you had the night tour like we had, well it’s enjoying with a Big Bonus ✨

Alcatraz
Day turns into night , final view on the Bay and Angel Island
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Waiting for the ferry
San Francisco Coit Tower
That view!

and let’s not forget the most important thing: the taste of freedom…we escaped!

Alcatraz Cruises
Alcatraz Cruises night tour experience with a smile!

Hope you enjoyed! More stories and pics of our trip to follow, so stay tuned and if you ever visit SF, hope this has inspired you to put Alcatraz on your ‘to visit’ list, you won’t regret it!

Ingrid

xxx

 

 

Crash and reboot, the chronic back pain tales

Making notes for this post I wasn’t even sure if I would ever publish it…it’s not a ‘happy’ topic, but it’s part of who I am, right, so why not?! I promise it will not be a depressive or even too long post!

Just to fill in the blanks for those who do not know me, or those who didn’t know that part of me yet: I have been a chronic back pain sufferer for more than thirty years now after several surgeries between the age of 14 and 19. I take tons of medication daily, have regular treatments in pain clinic and stopped working years ago as physically no longer manageable though I left many tears for giving up my job, and still do.

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Daily meds

End of story right, take your meds, physio once in a while, lots of resting, respecting the boundaries…oooh I wish it was that simple!

I have a lot of radiating pains, to my legs, to my arms and neck and sometimes to my head leading to migraine. I call them my ‘attacks’: they vary in severeness and in duration, from a few hours to two days. They come on top of the usual daily pains I have and to which I have grown accustomed. They start at random, not triggered by anything specific, though I should not start vacuum cleaning the whole house😉, I can only do one room, or cleaning windows, etc,…things I have all learnt to work around or find other solutions for.

My days are planned based on how I feel, after doing groceries I rest, I sometimes leave them downstairs to unpack half an hour later because I need to lie down first. When cooking dinner I start my preparation in the afternoon so I can rest before doing the actual cooking, that means if dinner is something more elaborate than just cooking pasta! I split up nearly every activity, so I can rest in between. When having a party or invitation by friends or family we try to avoid two evenings in a row, as I know that is asking for trouble. When I know in advance we go out, the schedule is extra cleared the days in advance and resting is doubled. Luckily I have two lovely, understanding men in my life and here in the house helping me out, my husband and son, I honestly would not know what I would do or who I would be in all this without them! I feel blessed with the lovely friends, family and neighbours stopping by concerned and offering their help, so warms the heart!

Though I have learnt these attacks don’t last, every single time they knock me out big time, it’s not only my body that crashes, it’s a mental thing too and takes time and a lot of inner power to reboot every time again, over and over again. Sometimes I’m lucky and I am only overrun by such an attack once every two weeks, sometimes it’s two in one week!
During those attacks, depending on their severeness, visualisation usually helps me…oooh the beaches I’ve been on, and mountain streams, feet in the splashing water, or recalling happy memories from past holidays…I have a happy song too that goes over and over in my head: Katrina and the Waves’ Walking on Sunshine😀how bizarre is that, but it helps…

The most difficult thing still is to let go: letting go of the plans made for that day or evening, my social world has already been reduced and changed, so I do want to hold on and cherish the people and the things I still have or can do but on the attack days I have no choice: it’s letting go, hoping for better hours, days to come, finding that inner strength to reboot again and focus on the many things I can still enjoy like cooking and baking, reading, gardening, photography, holiday planning and dreaming, making new friends, so once I’m up and running again, well, figuratively, don’t it feel good!

Ingrid
Xxx

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Garden – Hebe Addenda