A few months ago I threw caution to the wind and took a yoga class.
Now there’s a phrase you don’t hear very often. It used to be more like “I threw caution to the wind and went bar hopping with my girlfriends,” or “ate two buckets of popcorn for dinner,” or “got a tattoo.” There was an entire decade where my wildest outing meant a girls’ weekend at the beach. (No, that’s not when I got the tattoo.) But I’m well into my 40s, a decade noted for achieving two states of being: the complete lack of sh*ts given about what others think of me as well as the ability to injure myself while changing into pajamas.
Hallelujah, isn’t 47 grand?
So I decided to give yoga a try. I was all about the breathing and the inner peace and the connecting with my true self. Yoga seemed like a solid choice for these crunchy aspirations. Plus I was reassured this particular class was gentle yoga designed to open my hip flexors, and gentle’s always a good start. So I donned my (sorta) yoga outfit, screwed up my nerve, and headed off to get my stretch on.
Here’s the thing, though. I am ALL IN when it comes to most of this yoga stuff. Slowing down my breath. Turning my gaze inward. Focusing on strengthening my core self. Yes, yes, and yes. The mind is more than willing. It’s the body causing all the trouble up in here.
Not that my brain sailed straight on through. It was doing a roundoff/double back handspring/back layout/back tuck trying to process directions like these.
And now we’re going to relax into supta padangusthasana. Loop the strap around your arch. Inhale and straighten your leg, pressing the heel toward the ceiling, and walk your hands up the strap. Draw the foot a little closer, deepening the stretch…now turn the leg out, exhale, swing your leg out to the side and hold a few inches off the floor. Deepen the stretch as you bring your foot in line with your shoulder. And breathe…
I can hear the peanut gallery now: “Gee, that’s pretty straightforward, Laura. They’re step by step instructions, for Pete’s sake.”
Right…except I was lying on my back, sweaty, lightheaded, mostly blind since there’s a general agreement not to crane your neck and stare at other yoga people. So you’re reading those helpful step by step directions while having coffee, but in real time it was more like this.
Now we’re gonna relax into soup-ta padan-goose-tha-something. Loop the strap around your arch (wait, which foot? does it matter?) and straighten your leg (umm, oh-kay…yeah. that’s as straight as that gets.) Draw the foot in a little closer (closer to what?) and turn the leg out (which leg? the same leg?), exhale, then swing it out to the side (wait. to the side? like, OUT? yeah, that doesn’t seem to be happening. omg, WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO BE DOING?? is this right? this doesn’t feel right.). And bring your foot in line with your shoulder…(WHAT?! ow, ow, ow, ow…)
Those yoga people are super zen, though. They’re all about accepting where you are right now and being forgiving of a body that might (ahem) have limitations. Which is great considering on a good day I have the flexibility of a rhino.