March 22, 2012: Yoga to My Head

            Yesterday, I took a yoga class. First time ever.

             Go ahead, laugh. Who could blame you?

             I decided, recently, that I had to start doing something physical. I’m big as a house and my back is killing me. Walking every night has gone the way of eating healthfully. But the thought of exercising makes me want to go to bed for a month. Yoga didn’t sound like exercise to me. Sitting on the floor, grabbing my left ankle and breathing through my nose? I could probably do that.

             And then I set about doing what I always do whenever I consider taking on something new: I began to prepare. I decided I had to get my next couple of writing deadlines taken care of, and then I would do some research about yoga. Maybe I’d read a book, and then ask some of my friends to recommend a yoga instructor who would give me some private instructions to get me ready for my first class. Then, I’d get a pedicure (in case yoga required me to remove my socks) and find the very best beginner’s class and, having done weeks of preparation, would finally be ready to go all Namaste on myself.

             (You think I’d have learned. When we first bought the house in Provence, I decided I needed to bone up on my French, pronto. I took a Conversational French class at Phoenix College, and listened to Berlitz tapes twice a day for 16 weeks. The afternoon we arrived in Bargemon, the village florist spotted me and Tevye and came over to us and said, “Jesuistellementcontentequevousvivezicimaintenant! Bienvenuealavillage etcommentsontleschosesenAmérique?” and I realized I’d just wasted four months of my life “preparing” to comprehend French.)

             The other night at dinner, I mentioned my plans to prepare for yoga to my friend Carol, and she rolled her eyes. “Just come to my Wednesday morning yoga class with me,” she said. “It’s not a drug test. You don’t need to prepare for it.”

            Carol is a Jewish woman from Cleveland, so we’re practically the same person; I figured she wouldn’t lead me astray. So yesterday morning I dug out Todd’s yoga mat (which he’s used only once; my husband doesn’t exercise—if he wants to lose 20 pounds, he eats a carrot and does 10 jumping jacks and his abs magically return) and jumped in my car before I could change my mind.

My yoga stash.

             The class was small—Carol, me, two other people whose cute athletic costumes suggested a real commitment to becoming grounded by striking the perfect pose. The yoga instructor’s name was Maieta, because whoever heard of a yogi named Sheila, right? I liked her at once—she was patient and helpful and offered no bullshit about finding my centered place in the universe or reveling in the joy that is at the core of all consecrated and joined beings. Instead, she said things like, “Put your forehead on your right knee, and make a fist around your left ankle.” Then she’d leave us like that for five minutes. Because I enjoy remaining very still for long periods of time, even when I’ve got my elbow crammed into my groin, I decided I like yoga. It didn’t feel like exercising; it felt like a lot of short naps taken by a handful of pretzels.

             My favorite part was something called the Shavasana, which Maieta told us is yoga for “the corpse pose.” I’m a journalist, so being dead came naturally to me. I fell asleep during the Shavasana and dreamed that Jane Fonda and Cher were fighting over me. Jane wanted me to appear in her new Yoga for Seniors DVD, and Cher wanted me to go buy her a large package of black plastic Solo cups and a box of Ring Dings.

              I never found out which diva won me, because Carol poked me and I woke up, and then it was time to go out for coffee and talk about our dying careers. At the coffee shop I ordered a bowl of fruit and a side of yogurt, because I’m an athlete now, and we don’t eat things that taste good.

 Thing I Hate Today: Loud restaurants.

 Thing I published today: Essay about Bill Johnson’s Big Apple in Phoenix New Times http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2012-03-22/news/sour-apple/

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6 Responses

  1. Who said you don’t have a good sense of humor. With this piece, you could do stand-up anywhere. […I’m a journalist, so being dead came naturally to me…]
    Funny stuff!

  2. My dearest Robrt,
    If you were in front of me right now I would whack you in the head. If you really did your yoga research you would know that there are 8 limbs of yoga and then a million different types created by Westerners and opportunistic Indian yogis to keep the lazy masses coming to class (ie, Flow yoga, Bikram, Power Yoga (???), and so on). You will most likely loose weight ONLY if you do cardio exercises to speed up your metabolism not just yoga. And….I teach yoga all of the time and you most likely have no idea that I do this.

    Your limber friend,
    Kim

  3. i think it’s great you are doing this. i’m jealous in fact. kim’s yoga sounds scary i want one where i take a nap. 😉

    suzie

  4. I had a very similar experience on our trip to Bargemon. We even met with a French tutor! Silly Americans.

  5. Stealing this: “It didn’t feel like exercising; it felt like a lot of short naps taken by a handful of pretzels.”

  6. Robrt, loved your yoga comments. Stick with it, routine yoga helps me in so many ways, balance, limberness, strength and of course my sanity. I won a raffle for 5 free yoga classes at Yoga Pura on 7th st near Greenway two years ago and I am hooked. I go 3 to 4 times a week and my outlook on life has improved significantly. I know at the end of every class there is shavasana to look forward to. I can never fall a sleep on my back and always want to poke the snoring person near me–mainly out of jealousy. Unfortunately it is not the “magic pill” for weight loss, I battle that daily. I blame it on my inheritance of the highly efficient fat storage system from my Italian and Cajun parents. Keep it up and you will find that it is so helpful with the stresses of your life especially if your studio give a little yoga wisdom at the beginning of every class like Yoga Pura does.
    Blessing to you my old friend,
    Yvette

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