Last year I signed up to try a beginner yoga program for four weeks. I am quite possibly the least zen person you know. The idea of yoga sounded like my own personal hell, what with all the deep breathing, silly-sounding pose names, and designated clearing of your mind time. It’s the exact scenario where I have to fight the urge to laugh out loud in a very quiet room. I knew it was going to be challenging, and that’s why I wanted to do it. Would I find out my chakra are too far gone? Would I receive complimentary granola and a “Namaste In Your Lane” tank top at the door? I sure didn’t know, but I was willing to find out. I considered upping my candy consumption to balance out this positive life decision. Yoga is supposed to be about balance, right? Right?
In preparation for the first day, I purchased a yoga mat with a shoulder carry strap. I thought if I had a nice kind, maybe I’d feel like one of those energetic women on the streets in Princeton with immaculate workout wear and post-workout hair that looks infuriatingly unaffected. They were always carrying yoga mats.
Maybe my yoga mat will make my ponytails look more like this and less like an electrocuted rat.
W walked me to the yoga studio before my first class since I was so nervous. After I signed in and said a shy hello to the gorgeous person working at the desk, I dragged my mat to the furthest back corner of the yoga room. Fifteen or so other suckers got settled on their mats, and we met our instructor, Joe.
Joe gave a little testimony about how yoga had changed his life after some serious sports injuries. Then he told us to go around the room and share what brought us there. I can only assume he did this to frighten and humiliate us, one at a time. Break us down so we’re more flexible, or something. Unfortunately, everyone else seemed to take this as a welcome opportunity to bond emotionally with their new mat neighbors, because each person began sharing real life things. Like REAL real. “My wife left me, and I need this for myself” kind of real. I had no idea what to say, and as my turn grew closer, I hated Joe more. For crying out loud, Joe. How dare you do this to me! I just started therapy, and if I start talking about feelings, I can’t stop. Thankfully, the person before me said something about sitting a lot at work and needing to get moving more. I piggybacked off her and said “what she said!” Everyone laughed, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I think that was the last breath I took for the next hour and a half of actual class.
In case you’re like me and didn’t know this, yoga is super hard. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you. And there’s no air conditioning in my studio. The mirror fogs up and everything. No amount of candles and zen music can make me feel calm about no air conditioning. At one point, Gorgeous Desk Person came in to talk to the class, and we learned that her name was Liz. Liz is the owner of the school, because of course she is. I should have known upon walking in. That woman looks like she’s never not been yoga-ing. Liz answered some questions and gave us some info about classes, including what I must assume was a joke about hot yoga. “We don’t offer hot yoga here because we don’t believe you need to be in 105 degrees to effectively practice yoga,” she smirked, as though hot yoga people are just plain silly. Ha ha! I get it. You just think it’s effective to practice yoga in 95 degrees, what with your not having air conditioning. Shaving those few degrees off really makes all the difference. Well, sure, Liz! One is hot yoga, and one is “there’s no air in this room help I’m dying” regular yoga. For a second there, I might have called them both hot. But then you drew that distinction for us. One is hot, and one is a lemonade waterfall of refreshment.
One of the most difficult parts of yoga class for me is that designated clearing of your mind part I mentioned earlier. Everyone rests in silence, but my mind just races. The instructor says all kinds of things that are likely calming to most people, all about how you deserve this time to take care of yourself. My therapist told me it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed in this situation, because for many people, yoga can feel like therapy. I’m all therapy-ied out already, thanks!
It wasn’t long before I realized that W would probably enjoy Not Hot Yoga. He likes exercise and challenging himself. By contrast, I am very not into challenging my body. Once I did challenge it by eating mostly mac and cheese and ice cream for a couple years somewhere around 2014. I was determined, and nothing could stop me! No roadblock came my way that I couldn’t overcome! But this time I’m talking about, you know, the healthy kind of challenge. W and I signed up for a second beginner class series at the yoga studio, and as I had guessed he would, he loved it. Here’s an example of how these classes went.
“W, great job! Fantastic C curve! Keep it up!” followed immediately by “….Good choice modifying that position, Anna. Feel free to return to child’s pose if you need to.”
W continued to consistently take yoga classes two to three times a week from then on. In the not air conditioned studio. Of his own free will. Going on a year and a half! Except for a brief bout with amnesia where I dabbled in a few classes again earlier this year, I’ve consistently not gone to yoga. Going on a year and a half!