Trying to go with the flow

There were Bose speakers on the ceiling. My stomach started growling the minute I remembered there’s a Bickfords pancake house right up the street. And when we were told to stand on one leg, our arms contorted strangely, I almost giggled, thinking of how I’d knock over the woman next to me — and probably everyone else in the room, like dominoes — if I didn’t stop thinking about pancakes and concentrate on my pose.

eagle pose threatened to topple everyone in the room

“This is your love, your work, your yoga,” the instructor intoned. Then she said a 6-syllable word that sounded like something a two-year-old would say, prakana-ishnahanahan, and everyone else in the room moved in unison. I looked around and figured it out: upward dog, lunge, pigeon pose, whatever.

These expensive, trendy, hot — the room is heated to over 90 degrees! — classes aren’t exactly my thing. I like doing yoga. In fact, I’ve done it for years in the privacy of my own home. Worth noting: I have learned all of the same poses virtually for free that others paid to learn in chi-chi yoga boutiques. But they have their reasons for taking classes, and I have my reasons for counting down the number I have to use up on my gift certificate.

my regular class takes place in my living room, and it ain't bad at all

For starters, I got the spot behind the shirtless guy… word has probably spread among the regulars that he’s a copious perspirer, and that’s why the floor space was available in the otherwise-packed room. In the midst of one move, the perspiration from his swinging arms actually sprayed across several people nearby. I’m not going into detail about the puddle around his mat by the end of the class, except to say that the shirt I left on the floor is going to be handled with asbestos gloves until it has been bleached.

I find yoga to be great for stretching between days of hard workouts like yesterday’s three-hour road bike ride, whether or not there is truly any improvement in the flow of my chi. I enjoy the challenge of balancing, of trying to hold the difficult poses, and of finding the same focus that long-distance running requires. I hope someday to breathe the right way as well (“breathe through your spine,” and “breathe with your belly” are two in-class instructions that I’m still mulling over). Going to a class is like biking with a group: it’s a chance to check your technique against others, to match their pace, and for me, to appreciate the space I have in my living room to complete the routine without banging elbows and knees with the neighbors.

Unfortunately group yoga lends to commercialization, with everyone in similar racer-back outfits and carrying expensive Lululemon bags. Don’t tell anyone, but I got a $6.99 yoga mat at Ocean State Job Lot because I’d rather put gas in my car than drop $50 on a microbiotic/recycled/vegetable-dyed Prana mat that I’m only going to stand on. And my gym towel was stolen from a hotel (but that’s a story for another time..).

The classes were a birthday gift that allows me to take classes at two studios. Today’s location has overcrowded classes and needs a rule about wearing shirts (I think the guy should be required to wear those 1970s terrycloth tennis sweatbands on his head and wrists too). The other location houses my other pet peeve: touchy teachers. Is there some way to signal to yoga instructors — by folding up a corner of the mat, anything?? — that you’re just fine and prefer no hands-on instruction? When I took a class there I was appalled to see the instructor approach a student from behind and “correct her posture” with his hands on her hips. I held my breath (oh no!) the rest of the hour, hoping he wouldn’t find fault with my form. I don’t think slapping a yogi is good karma.


the inappropriate yoga guy -- for laughs

inappropriate yoga guy



One Response to “Trying to go with the flow”

  1. Steve Santospago Says:

    As with most things it touches our Domestic marketing machine has taken yoga and has made it an info-mercial, they have reduced it to some form of social gathering, just another reasons for out of work folks or soccer Moms to get out of the house or gain the chance to talk to their friends. I feel if you wewre to travel over to Village Street in Millis and speak with Yogi Rhatma you would find a differing experience. Yoga is meant to be used as part of a spiritual and intilectual fitness program. You are right, the 60 dollar matts are not needed, no Life is Good wear needed as well. Just yourself, an open mind and a willingness to take time ro twork on yourself. Its not a trend its a way of healing.

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