I was running a little late to Treetop Yoga, and in the interest of saving a minute, and for the first time ever, I made the move of entering the side door by the Well and up the stairs, vs the main lobby area. Rest & Restore was upstairs of course, so I went straight up, and into the room, laid out my mat, and went for blocks, blankets, & bolsters. I noticed no one around me had bolsters or blankets, and thought I was probably just ahead of the game, or maybe these other folks are new. The instructor wasn’t someone I was familiar with yet, it’s not uncommon to have substitutions. The class was delayed with talk about a new furnace and an odd odor, and then suddenly I hear Erin McKay at the doorway calling my name. I look up and she says something to the effect of “Rest & Restore is downstairs” Oh! I got up, return my blocks, blankets, & bolsters and heard a comment from the back row about ‘taking naps’ or something alluding to the relaxation aspect of rest and restore. I said my goodbyes, and moved on down to the oh-so-full Moon studio where Kayla was already in gear. She assured me that all was good, and I laid out my mat in a distant corner. So began my 14th yoga class in 14 days at Treetop.
Treetop was not my first introduction to Yoga. Officially, that happened some 15 or 16 years before, just after I moved to Gloucester from Cambridge. I rented a little office on Main Street for my leadership consulting business, and Janet Green Garrison had an upstairs yoga studio just a few doors away. It was Janet who introduced me to Down Dogs, Chair Poses, Forward Folds, Eagles, Triangles, the Warriors, and Happy Baby – a pose we referred to as “Dead Bug” at the time. Yoga with Janet was something that my wife Sally and I usually did together, so holding hands during Savasana was always a tender moment.
I also had an affiliation with Yoga, from my years with KCC, the Kripalu Consultants’ Collaborative, a group of us committed to bringing more “Spirit into the Workplace”, that was formed in Lenox 25 years ago. Fast forward to 2017 and the years have taken a bit of a physical toll. Partial knee replacement on the left one. Some significant osteoarthritis leading to bone on bone in the right knee, a bicycle wreck in April of this year resulting in a fractured clavicle that has not healed. Can be a bit of an “ouch” there. Poses with significant left side arm support, like a side plank, usually aren’t very pretty. (And don’t even get me started on Cranes, Crows, Peacocks, or flipping from Down Dog to the Wild Thang.) More recently I’ve had “flair-ups” with sciatica, or is it spinal stenosis? Either way, there had been pain shooting down my left leg that complicated walking. The physical therapists and the chiropractors I’ve seen all recommended a series of exercises and stretches. Suggested “treatment” looked like this: “Improve your flexibility, strength, and balance with regular activity”. Flexibility, Strength, and Balance? Hmmmmmm, Smells like Yoga to me. And this is where Treetop comes in front and center. It’s October. First month – 49 dollars – Unlimited Yoga. I sign up. Being a value kind of guy, my goal is 30 Yoga classes in 30 days. Let’s do this.
An Ah-Ha moment: My 23rd, 24th, and 25th classes were taught by Kayla, Jemma, and Erin M. After each class I made it a point to say to each of them some variation of how excellent the class was; how really in synch they were with the group, and that they brought their “A-Game” that day. Suddenly it dawned on me that the comments and feedback were less about them, and more about me. They had probably always been in synch, and delivering superb classes. This was more of an observation about myself; that over the last few weeks of Treetop classes, I had wised up in my head and heart space enough for ME to tune in and receive what had most certainly always been instruction delivered with excellence.
Also, I found myself thinking that if you’ve ever known someone who lost a job, then it was clear that NOW their job was to find a new job. For me, with a health combination of learning to walk again after a serious car accident in college, knee issues, cartilage deterioration in both neck and lumbar, the leg pains, and continuing aliments, it’s clear that my job NOW is to get healthy and maintain a certain level of physical fitness. As I have been addressing my recent physical challenges, I’ve found myself thinking again about Janet Green Garrison and her company’s name: “Yoga for Health”. At the time, I thought it a cute and catchy name, yet NOW I realize the true impact of those three little words: Yoga For Health. Yoga in these last 64 days has become a daily practice. Not only am I more flexible, more “toned”, and walking pretty darn normal with IT bands and piriformis all comfortably stretched out, I’ve even been told that I have slimmed down and that I have a noticeable “glow”. Well, there ya go! What else can a 64 year-old guy could ask for? 64 days, 64 Treetop classes is a good story to tell and I must admit, I do have a propensity to share it. All it takes is a simple “What’s new? or “How’s it going JG?” and then they get to hear all about my quest. And, while it has taken some deliberate work and life restructuring to accommodate the frequent drives to Pond Road, it’s a valuable reminder that the world can get along just fine without me for 90 minutes. And I, in return, receive the benefit of a (mostly) quiet mind.
This past Wednesday afternoon as I lay in my 64/64 Savasana, a noticeable sense of calm and peace came over me. Even when I heard Elaine say “roll over onto your right side”, I found myself really wanting just to stay in my peaceful spot. I also recall thinking that one of the things that I most appreciate about Treetop Yoga is rooted in its philosophical underpinning that states: Every BODY Welcome. It’s a generous non-judgmental perspective, and for those of us where “modifications” are a norm rather than the exception, Treetop is a warm accepting space. . . with a great vibe.
So big thank-you and appreciation to the Treetop instructors and staff. I’m digging my new routines.
aka Jay ( if you are Elaine or when I put in a coffee order at Starbucks)
PS: when one of my yoga classmates heard about my 64/64/64 quest, she said: “like the Beatle song?”. Indeed! Three days before I started at Treetop, I spent my 64th birthday in Rhinebeck NY and while out to dinner with friends, we hatched a plan to celebrate this special occasion with a nod to Sir Paul. Feel free to take a peek here.