I understand that these days, yoga is a staple activity of anyone who is anyone. As a college student in a relatively large city, I dabbled in hot yoga a few times. I would spend Wednesday afternoons at a yoga studio in downtown Pittsburgh with a couple of my proactive friends. I told myself that I needed to go because you burn about a thousand calories and I needed to reconnect with the chi. Was it because I wanted to like it? Was it because we always got fro-yo afterwards?
Recently, my good friend decided that yoga was going to be her new thing, and asked me to go with her because she had never been. As such, I decided to give the centuries-old practice a second chance. After all, I had collected some cute yoga gear over the years and I never wanted to miss an opportunity to show off how great my shoulder stands were, especially to a newcomer.
I immediately convinced her that we needed to set up shop in the back of the class so she can see the poses without getting confused. The truth is, we are back here mostly because I don’t want everyone to see how lazy I might end up being.
Class begins with the universal “Om” and we get started in child’s pose. The problem with child’s pose is that sometimes the teacher keeps you there just a little too long. If this is the case, you’ll wind up feeling so comfortable that you’re ready to stay there for the remainder of the hour. But all good things must come to an end, and pretty soon, we move to downward facing dog. It seems like we are in this position for an eternity, too, because my hands are so sweaty that they are slipping off of the mat and I look like the idiot who can’t keep her balance. Plus, I have been away from yoga for so long that my shoulders now feel like jello and all I can think about is how great it would be to just go back to child’s pose. The contortionist woman in the front might judge me. We are just warming up and she is basically doing back bends and splits while the rest of the class is simply in downward facing dog.
Things are really moving along and I am dripping sweat like I am supposed to. I’ve surprised myself with my stamina and I find myself reading the quotes on the wall by Ghandi and really feeling like my next move is to become a yoga instructor. How great would life be if it was your job to sit in a warm room in cute clothes and teach people how to relax? How much do they get paid? Can I be a therapist and a yoga instructor at the same time? Can I just double bill their insurance? Where did she get her headband?
Things slowly get a little bit more complicated. I am able to keep up and I am encouraging my friend like a good friend should. The instructor is really involved though — she is touching everyone to make sure that their poses are perfect. Oh no, she is coming my way. My foot is not “flexed enough”. I wish she wouldn’t touch me. It only draws attention to me. Nope, her hand is on my foot gently guiding me to the correct position. I hope she enjoyed my sweaty foot in her hand. I just got a pedicure, but she was asking for it so I don’t feel bad.
After 30 minutes, I am back in child’s pose, thinking about what flavor frozen yogurt that I want. I pretend to be deep belly breathing to become one with the universe but it is really my anxiety about whether or not I am in a chocolate or vanilla mood. Do I want to get crazy and go swirl?
I decide that it can’t really be too much longer so I start to participate again. While I am feeling empowered in warrior pose, I start to wonder why I hate yoga so much. I come to the conclusion that really, I would just rather spend an hour running on a treadmill to the “Gasolina” radio on my pandora station.
I wish that I loved yoga, but the truth is that I can’t breathe and relax in a hot room with a bunch of strangers after a long day of work. I would love to be a monk on top of a mountain who is completely one with the world, but I can’t participate in an organized class because I get bored too easily. Is it just me, or do we all feel this way? I would love to have the patience to fully indulge myself in the practice. Maybe I have the inability to relax, or maybe I don’t really have a good reason at all. Maybe sometimes, some versions of exercise just aren’t each of our things. Namaste.