Monday, October 22, 2012

What happens when a girl who can't touch her toes goes to yoga

I do not go to the gym. This is not for lack of membership (I had one until recently), nor is it from lack of convenience (there is a gym next to my kid's school). I don't really care to use the machines, because, you know, other people have sweated all over them. (Did you know that? Perhaps you didn't realize.) But I do like the idea of taking a class with others, if only because it will be really difficult to leave early without everyone giving me The Look - the look which says either "you poor dear, this was clearly too much for you" or "how rude to walk out in the middle of a class" or even "You just stepped on my hand" (which I have gotten a few times). Regardless, it's always awkward to leave early, so I take classes if only to embrace the herd mentality and force myself to stay for the full hour to avoid drawing attention to myself.

I tried aerobics "back in the day" when I also had Reeboks with an ankle strap and a kick-ass perm - and no matter how much I looked the part, I just couldn't keep up. The problem is, I am not nearly coordinated enough to take any sort of class. Either I get completely lost during the routine and have to just stop, or I get completely lost and end up hitting myself/someone else in the face accidentally when I turn left instead of right, or bend forward instead of back. Either way, because of my aerobics experiences, the idea of attending a Zumba class doesn't appeal to me no matter how many of my friends sing it's praises.

I tried spinning once, or as I like to call it, pedaling. I think that the entire concept of riding a bike inside when you live in Hawaii is dumb, but I put some happy juice in my water bottle and made the most of it.

Eventually I just threw in the towel, so to speak, and began a long break from any form of group exercise.

There is, however, one exception.

I love yoga.

I love the relaxing music, the stretching, the meditation, and the fact that I don't have to keep up with an instructor while they move at a breakneck pace. I occasionally fall over, and I have smacked people in the head (and one memorable time, right in the nuts) from time to time, but usually no one really sustained any serious injury and we were able to forgive and forget (unlike those Power Jam bitches from the gym). People in yoga classes are generally happy and peaceful - if they have anything in their water bottle besides water, it's probably kombucha.

But its not all zen and lightness of being. Every rose has it's fucking thorn. (musical interlude if you'd like)

Here are the things that I hate about yoga:

Downward dog. In fact, I hate sun salutations. There. I said it. I get nauseous and dizzy when I have to keep my head pointed down to the ground for too long, I hate moving through the same string of poses over and over again, and I don't find it relaxing or meditative in the least. Plus, I get sweaty. No thanks.

Forward bends. Besides the aforementioned dizziness when I have to point my head down towards the ground for any length of time, I can barely touch my KNEECAPS. Never mind my toes. And you can forget about touching the ground - that is a joke. There is one position in which I can usually touch the ground - when I am sitting on it.

Being in the front of the class. For obvious reasons, I prefer to stay in the back where I can modify the poses to my heart's content.

That bendy senior citizen in the Lulu Lemon. Lady, I am wearing my trusty green Walmart sweatpants and a t-shirt memorializing the "massage parlor" in my home town that got busted in 1995. I didn't realize that this was going to be some sort of a fashion show. You do know that yoga is traditionally done in, like, a loin cloth. Right? So the fact that I have even worn PANTS for this is already pushing it. And I know you are feeling pretty smug over there, in your stretchy breathable just-for-yoga and the grocery store-outfit, with all of your back bends and toe touching, and you can just stuff it.

Having the instructor "help me". Listen, here's the deal. I KNOW that every other person on the planet is more flexible than I am. Once during warm up at derby practice, one of the girls watched me "stretching" and asked if I was injured. My body just doesn't go that way. So when you get behind me while I am bending over and put your hands on my hips you better be my husband and you better have something better in mind then yoga.

Not that there really is anything better. At least, not where my gym is concerned.

My point is this. If you are afraid of yoga, don't be.

If you think you can't do it, you are wrong. This is one of those situations where I can say with total honesty that if I can do it, anyone can do it.

If you think you won't like it, you should try a few different kinds of yoga, until you find the style and instructor that works for you. Because some classes really suck, and some are just okay, and then every once in a while you find the perfect class and you will have the "AHA!" moment, I swear to you.

And if you think it isn't enough of a workout, well, you would be wrong about that. Yoga is what you make of it. Here's a few of your options in layman's terms:

If you like to get all hot and bothered, there is a class for that. It's called hot yoga, or Bikram - and it's a total sweat-fest. Have fun doing yoga in 105 degrees. I'll meet you afterwards at the bar where I'll be chilling in the ac while you clean yourself up. Please don't hug me until you have showered.
If you just want to get as close to an aerobics class as possible, and show everyone how coordinated you are (in your outfit AND your asanas), try power yoga, or Ashtanga. I can't keep up, but I'll hide in the back and drink kombucha with you.
If you want to chill the fuck out and get your stretch on (though I am pretty sure the yogis would take issue with that description) look for a class that tends towards the Iyengar style of practice. I will be in the back row, sitting on a pillow, focusing on my breath and wondering if I need a mint.

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