This summer I have become a yogi with a practice. Mind you, a yogi who doesn’t wear yoga-wear and is as inflexible as any of the umpteen GOP presidential candidates; although, I do have a mat with pink flowers.
I’m not quite sure what happened to get me doing inversions, but I think it has something to do with noticing how comfy I was doing nothing physically, and how that inertia was settling into me mentally. The couch can be a tempting place to pass a life. At that point of minimum exertion, I realized that if I didn’t move now, I was heading into a very mushy AARP-life. I needed to find an exercise that would make me feel better doing it and having done it, rather than having stayed in my reclining position.
During the first critical weeks, when you waiver between realizing that those initial dates are not quite what you thought they were or sticking with it because you have a good feeling, younger daughter was here. She went with me to one class and then, as we were walking out she asked, “Which class do you want to take tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow?” I asked, wondering if she really knew her mother. In what world do I work out two days in a row? Before she came, I was giving myself two days between classes. It’s so unhealthy to push yourself. But she had me cornered; it wasn’t the yoga that got me initially, it was spending time with her. Even though we were upside down and dripping, what mother can resist an opportunity to bond with her teen?
So here I am, a summer into yoga and feeling committed to it. I even decided on the monthly unlimited class plan.
The lack of aggressiveness in the room is appealing. Even in the yoga weights class, there’s none of the clanking and huffing and showing off that you see in a gym. I mean those places, even the relatively safe treadmill-zone, were reminiscent of the pre-mating, jockeying for the ladies, season out in the veldt. The pilates classes I tried a few years ago unnerved me with worrying about mid-body noises and being exposed to far too much up-beat music and bouncing. There is a line that must be drawn between getting exercise and being the butt of a comedic skit wherein we women are tricked into thinking that we’re exercising when, in fact, a mad contortionist has us do a random succession of moves that we think will help us lose our jiggle when, actually, it’s only for a laugh at the ladies later.
Back to yoga class: since my body does not understand the language of contortion, I cannot be envious of the ladies who get into their dolphin poses and hold their eagles. I hold what I can and no one cares or knows: look, no mirror! Besides, why look at the lumpy lady sweating as she gets into her chair pose, a high chair the way I do it, rather than the lululemon-clad woman who gets into every advanced pose as if it’s a walk in the park? Since so much sweating is involved, I have to take off my glasses, which means I can barely see what anyone else is doing. It’s me focused on me, with no feelings of inadequacy (okay, barely any). I just do what I can. Perhaps this is what it’s like when you’re retired and taking classes: all you care about is your own learning, no grades, just dealing with yourself, improving yourself for yourself.
And the grunting. When I told younger daughter that I had grunted holding some of the poses she noted, “Yes, I know.” But you know, I wasn’t the only one grunting. I might not see anyone, but I can hear their very real struggles, even if it is to hold the advanced pretzel poses. We are all pushing ourselves, for ourselves. I guess there really is something to focusing on your own breath (though I keep getting confused when I’m supposed to breathe in and when I’m supposed to breathe out) that lets you concentrate on what matters at that moment, even when I’m sweating like a sumo wrestler.