Tuesday, June 11, 2013

up with yoga...

(image from www.yogaandtea.com)

Sjoe*. It’s been a while.  I took an unpaid leave of absence from my blog ( -- laughs hysterically at the word “unpaid” --) given that nothing really newsworthy has happened of late.  To be fair, there was the recent event when BK** did a grocery shop and came home with four, yes FOUR, blocks of cheese. He’s either privy to some important developments in the cheese industry or he’s planning on abandoning the family, taking mostly cheese with him. (He has also gone quite mad with Blitz firelighters. Is there to be an embargo on them?)

Other noteworthy events involve injury and operations. My Mom and Dad have both had back operations, my father in law has had a knee replacement, BK has to have a shoulder operation (thanks to ‘self-coaching’ himself at snowboarding), my sister has torn her calf muscles and I have foot issues.  I’d just like to make it clear that all of these things have absolutely nothing at all to do with getting older.

Because my foot has forced my hand, so to speak, I’ve had to quit teaching my “Jane Fonda” classes and seek out new forms of exercise that don’t include any “jumping type” moves. It’s probably high time that I tried something new anyway - heaven knows the other shit hasn’t been working. Thus, I embarked on what will be known as my YOY, otherwise known as my Year of Yoga.

My only previous brush with yoga was when I was around 9 years old.  I went to a class with my friend “Rebel” because our moms used to attend yoga classes twice a week and they once invited us to come along. At the time we thought it was because they desperately wanted us to join in but retrospect I realise it was just because it was school holidays and they had no one to babysit us.

Honestly, they could have warned us about the chanting. We started off the class with an Aaaaaaauuuuuuummmm and Rebel and I just couldn’t stifle the giggles.  Apparently giggling and yoga don’t go because it’s tricky to balance when you’re shaking.

But back to my YOY. I looked up times of yoga classes and found words like “Hatha”, “Bikram” , “Ashtanga” and Vinyasa. To me, these sound like spices you might add to a curry…. “Just add a teaspoon of bikram and a pinch of ashtanga to bring out the hatha in your curry”.

Then I saw one class called “Kundalini”. Now “kundalini” is one of those words like “epiphany” or “existentialism” – I sort of know what they mean but even so, I keep on having to look them up.

I realized my first mistake as soon as I walked in. My shiny lycra leggings were hopelessly out of place, glaring even, amongst the sea of yogi’s who were all dressed in flowing, white garments. Then I noticed that everyone was seated in a circle. As we all know, circles can only mean trouble because circles are expectant things as there’s always that pressure of “you’re next” and not knowing what “next” would entail, I was a little on edge.

To make matters worse, the instructor and some of the other yogi’s were wearing white turban type things allowing no hair to show. Were these needed for cushioning when we stood on our heads? Did this mean that my unruly hair was offensive? (Though to be sure, for someone with my kind of wild hair, a turban is actually a great solution.)

I did my best to look very at home - as if I do this sort of thing all the time but at another yoga studio - but I couldn’t keep the panic at bay when the chanting started. Unconvincingly, I pretended to know the words but
that feeling of being at church and not knowing the psalm lyrics came flooding back to me and I hoped like hell that the circle didn’t mean that we were chanting “in a round” where the person next to you sings a little bit and then you have to know the bit that comes next.

Luckily for me it didn’t come to that, but what it did come to was a series of breathing exercises that in kundalini circles are referred to as “fire breathing”.  It involves a lot of short sharp breaths and the tricky part is that you have to suck your tummy in on the out breath and push it out on the in breath. This is all good and well when done at a leisurely pace but done at speed, it made me feel like I was trying to rub my tummy and pat my head at the same time.  What followed was a series breaths that sounded as if I was sobbing as I tried to co-ordinate my tummy going in and out. By the time we were done with the “release the ego” set I was a hyperventilating mess of bulging eyes. The only thing that I was pretty sure I’d released was my muffin top.

Then there was more poses and more chanting but these are all a blur as I was feeling a little lightheaded by now and though the “frog squats” weren’t entirely unfamiliar (think peeing in the bush), the other stuff just seemed reeeaaaalllly uncomfortable.

Finally, instructor got us in a pose that I will refer to as “the exorcist”. We had to kneel (as if in prayer – it should have been a sign), push our pelvis forward and drop our arms down to our sides and backwards so that they could grasp our upturned heels. I’ll say that again…grasp our upturned heels. It was all very well getting in to that position but after two minutes of posing like that, there was no bloody ways I could get my body out of it again.  It was as if the wind had changed and my body would stay bent backwards like that forever. I remember smiling at the person next to me, silently begging them to push me over on to my side so that I could release myself. As I saw it, it was the only way. No one helped me and I’m pretty sure I heard some sniggering. 

I realise now that aiming for a whole YEAR of yoga is a bit ambitious. However, I will continue to search for my inner yogi. After all, you never know when you’ll have to do a back-bend to reach for something in the grocery store.

*This is a SAFA word for “wow” or other similar exclamaition. It’s pronounced as if a Frenchman says “Shoe” (the ‘oe’ part said a little clipped)

**BK a.k.a BestKisser, for those that are new to the blog