Prompt: When the bell rang…
Based on my tennis success (and by success I mean that I have survived the locker room so far and haven’t fallen over on court) I decided to give yoga a try.
I should start by explaining that I am not, by nature, a bendy person. I’m just not flexible or graceful. My mother actually nicknamed me “Gracie” when I was a little girl. I guess she knew early on that I would never be a ballerina or gymnast.
But I thought yoga would help with my bendiness along with my (occasional) back pain and (constant) bad posture.
Like with the tennis lesson, I was greatly relieved that the instructor wasn’t stick-thin. Maybe I’m prejudiced against the perfectly proportioned, but I’m more comfortable when an exercise class is led by someone with a pot belly or big butt. I feel like I fit in that way.
The first class was small, just me and one other woman (who I later found out is also a yoga instructor. I’m glad I didn’t know about that during the class!)
I spent 90 minutes twisting myself into shapes I didn’t know possible. Although I often couldn’t reach the floor (or my ankles or my toes) when I was supposed to, I like to think that did ok.
I especially excelled at Tadasana, or mountain pose.
Ok, so that pose consists of standing up straight on “all four corners” of your feet but I really was quite good at it.
By contrast, I was a major failure in my attempt at Viparita Karani, where you put your legs up the wall. Picture that the wall is the floor and you’re sitting on it with your legs outstretched.
It sounds easy but I couldn’t roll over and get my butt close enough to the wall. And like a turtle on its back, I couldn’t wiggle myself closer. I was beached, legs in the air, flailing my arms round wind mill style to scootch closer.
The instructor finally had me give up on that one.
The biggest challenge of the class, however, was dealing with the spiritual nature of yoga. I went to stretch, not pray. But I guess they go hand in hand.
We ended with the “final resting pose” or corpse pose.
I had an immediate objection to the name alone. I don’t want to be a corpse until absolutely necessary!
It’s an easy pose to achieve… lying on your back (or with your legs up the wall if you can actually get into that position in the first place) and letting go of all your tension.
That I can do.
I can breathe deeply too.
What I can’t do is let go of all my thoughts.
I lay there on my back thinking how silly I must look and how I had a show later that afternoon and wondering if my shirt had ridden up or not.
Eventually, by relying on my OCD tendencies, I stopped thinking and started counting. Breathe in for five, hold for five, breath out for five.
Then, just as I was reaching a partial state of relaxation, the instructor rang some sort Tibetan hand bell, like he was calling the monks to supper.
It was supposed to draw us back to our bodies, but it just gave me the giggles.
Yes, I am that unenlightened.
By literally biting my tongue I was able to keep it together, although there was a fair amount of twitching.
When we were finally back sitting up, the instructor gave us a little blessing and ended with “Namaste.”
I didn’t know people really said that. I smiled back, but apparently that wasn’t enough because he kept looking at me expectantly. After a minute the tension became too much for me and I muttered a “Namaste” back to him.
I’m extremely proud that I said it without laughing.
All in all I liked yoga. I liked feeling just a wee bit stretchier than usual and walking away aware of muscles I didn’t even know I had.
But I don’t think I’ll ever achieve anything close to a zen state, unless giggles is one of the levels.