July 25, 2018

i flunked my first vinyasa yoga class

Therapist Gumby tried months ago to get me to try yoga and I folded my arms and said NO.  Yoga is just an excuse for people with lean bodies in tight clothes who believe in namaste-crystals-divine-energy-positive shit to get together and perform pointless stretching on stupid little mats, and I cannot be in the same room with them.

He quietly told me that he does yoga every day.


I have a lot of prejudices.  It's disconcerting as hell when people I love and respect challenge them.

To wit:  My family was persuasive this weekend in a way that maneuvered right around my if-you-suggest-it-I-won't-do-it stubbornness defense mechanism, and they talked me into trying a yoga class.  It has apparently done a lot for them physically and they swore the one they attend isn't full of hokey positive bullshit.  It's more about breathing and flexibility.  Fine.  It was similar to my standing and volunteering for the homeowners' association board of directors (i.e., either insane or brainwashed) when I told them that by the time we'd returned next summer, I would have taken a yoga class.  This was my vow.

Except that I only waited two days, not a whole year.  I found a studio in my small town and they happened to have something last night and room for a new student.  The studio is upstairs in an historic building, airy with a wood floor.  A good space, one I'd love to convert into an apartment and live in.  I showed up in a loose shirt (mistake) and black leggings (perfect) and borrowed a mat, blanket, block, and strap.  I only used the mat.

I was one of three students.  The other two were experts.  One teaches a class of her own.

This was Vinyasa-style and thus amenable to people who have been doing this for a gazillion sessions and need extra bits of challenge thrown in, and also amenable to those of us who try a pose and fall over sideways like a cartoon character and make clunking noises on the wood floor.

I take back what I said about pointless stretching on stupid little mats.  That mat saved my ass, and my knees, and the heels of my hands.  And the hour of yoga pretty much whooped me, as Therapist Gumby had said it would.  Calories were burned.  Muscles were pushed to the breaking point.  I am incredibly sore this morning.

The stretchy bits felt good and I was glad for them.  I have to respect the physical aspects of yoga now.  It isn't easy.

I will not respect the rest of it, because the instructor said something at one point about squeezing toxins out of our blood and breathing to replace them with fresh oxygen.  Detox as a subject makes me get off any bus I happen to be on at the time and walk away.  It is rubbish.  This is what my liver is for, people.

And because this is my life and cannot be straightforward and normal, we got to the end bit where you relax progressively and lie in a state of meditation and whatever-ness, and it would have been great, except that the instructor chose that moment to permeate the air with the essence of lavender.  Lavender is a titanic PTSD trigger for me and on top of that, yesterday was my first son's birthday.  He would have been seventeen.  So she was telling us to let our backs melt into the floor, and I wasn't melting; I was arching my chest and sobbing instead, but trying to do it silently so I wouldn't fuck up the class for the two hard-core students in front of me.  The mat absorbed the sound of my shaking and I just had to let the waterworks roll down my face and into my hair.  I could no more have chosen to stop crying than I could have levitated and flown out the window, which was something she was suggesting envisioning.

This made the instructor tip-toe over to me with great concern, and she was holding the lavender oil and I kept shooing her away because it got a hundred times stronger when she was near me and I couldn't explain through crazy mime-like gestures why I was crying.  She gave up and left me alone and somehow I managed to hide my crying, and we finished up right as I finished wiping my face with my sleeve.  I put my mat and blanket and block and strap away slowly, allowing the others to pack up their equipment in their yoga bags without seeing my face.

I did stay after and explain what had happened.  The instructor thought I'd pulled a muscle.  In a way, I did.

I paid for two classes, so by Dog, I'm going to the second one, and if there is a different instructor, I will ask for a complete absence of lavender in the environment, and then prepare to have my ass kicked by performing pointless stretching on a stupid little mat while contemplating divine-energy positive shit.

My opinion hasn't changed, but there's my name, scrawled on the sign-in sheet.


  1. Yep, my doctor suggested yoga. Apparently, my muscles are tight, pretty much rusted shut from disuse. I've been contemplating going, a long with my navel. Namaste. Mona

  2. There is apparently something usually called "restorative yoga" that's a bit easier for those of us coming in basically atrophied, with our bodies wanting to run away screaming. Look for that. I'm going to.