there is no “i” in yoga

it’s true, that there is no “i” in yoga…but there is a “yo”, and i would like you to remember that.

a few years ago, when hubs and i lived in an apartment in another part of the city, we belonged to a super awesome crunch fitness that had the best fitness classes and was never more than 20% full of people working out…which is probably why it closed its doors shortly after we joined.

at the time i would go to yoga at crunch maybe twice a week.  it was a big room, everybody could spread out, and it was quiet and peaceful, but also a good workout.  when they transferred our memberships to a nearby la fitness without asking us, i came to find that the yoga classes were packed all the time.  by the way, so were the treadmills.  there were 30 treadmills (not exaggerating) and they were all taken, all the time.

when we bought our house we joined a nearby 24 hour fitness, which has no classes.  i miss my crunch yoga classes.  one of our neighbors urged me to look into the class schedule at our local rec center, and finally, this spring, i signed up for rec center yoga.  i was stoked.

this yoga class is very different from the other ones i have taken.  i am the youngest person by a solid 20 years.  the room is tiny, has low ceilings, and does not provide a lot of space between you and your yogi neighbor.  the instructor is bubbly and talkative, and people ask questions.  oh they ask questions!

“what is this supposed to feel like in my hip joint?” “i have weak knees, do you think i can do this pose?” “can you personally tailor this class to my needs and my needs only?” (i made that last one up.) we spend probably 30% of the class talking about yoga, and not actually doing any yoga.

interactive yoga seems kind of like the opposite of how yoga is supposed to go, right?

the first 3 classes were normal, and i could tell i was becoming much more flexible, especially in my hamstrings.  i have also been complimented by the instructor on my “very open hips”, so take that for what you will.

but then in week 4, our instructor surprised us with partner poses.  partner poses, i tell you!  putting your body on another stranger’s body!  my worst nightmare, probably!

that week, a stranger got very hands-on with my lower-lower back.  on week 5, i had to put my bare feet against the bare feet of a sheepish but sweaty older man.  then we held hands and pulled our faces towards each other.  week 6 involved putting my hands on someone else’s lower back and gently rocking their body back and forth.  YOU GUYS.  I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS.

week 7 offer a sweet respite from stranger touching, and i was thrilled.  but this week, week 8, when it came time to get dressed for yoga, i just didn’t have it in me to sit in a dark room and touch somebody else.  could not do it again.

so i stayed home and vowed to do a yoga video alone in my basement.  oh, my beloved yoga video.  the one that asks that you “soften the belly” and “breath into your kidneys” and “relax your palate”.  i will take you over creepy and uncomfortable partners yoga any day.

though sometimes it is difficult to concentrate on the video, thanks to a certain someone who does a very convincing downward-facing dog.


Things I Don’t Get About Yoga

Last night, I decided to take a little smidge of “me” time (because hubs has a cold and passed out on the couch while watching “How It’s Made: Dr. Pepper” at 8:30), and decided to do some yoga in our basement.  The only yoga video I own is this one, and while it doesn’t make me break a sweat, it does provide some good stretches, and the narrator’s voice is so, so soothing.  I have a thing for soothing voices.  Anytime I get a voicemail from someone at work with that buttery, sing-songy tone in their voice, I save it, so that I can go back and listen to something pleasant in case I need to pick up the phone and look busy at a moment’s notice.

That being said, there are some things about yoga that I just don’t get.

Downward facing dog is one of the most basic poses in yoga, and while it is common and looks simple, it hurts my wrists, people!  I thought yoga was supposed to help my body, not grind my joints together.  I’ve expressed this problem in a yoga class before, and the instructor told me to “take my weight off of my hands” while in this position.  Um…

The instructor in the video I did last night reminds you multiple times to “soften the belly”.  Is she assuming that I’m constantly flexing my rock-hard abs?  Because I can assure you, my belly is already softened.

One of the more impressive (looking) yoga poses I can pull off is the shoulderstand.  It requires no real skill but it looks fancy.  And it hurts my neck real bad.  When coming out of this pose, you’re instructed to lower yourself back to the ground “vertebrae by vertebrae”.  As if I have that much control over my body as it comes careening down from the sky.

Also, last night was the first time I’ve been told to get into “happy baby pose”, which, I’m sorry, but I thought this was yoga and not a lamaze class.  I have never felt more awkward, and more glad to not be in a room full of people who also looked like they were all giving birth at the same time.

I think my favorite pose of all would have to be the last one: final relaxation pose.

I like yoga, for the sake of getting a little bit of stretching and relaxation in, but overall, I prefer a workout that’s going to make me sweat and help me burn off that Little Debbie Christmas tree cake I shamefully ate after dinner.  I’ve taken yoga classes before that kicked my ass, but at home, I am okay with a little non-taxing yoga intermission every once in a while.  It makes me feel rich, snobby and cool, if only for a moment.