Wednesday, April 06, 2005

How to survive a yoga class

Spring weather awakens my long-dormant compulsion to run. My compulsion to run exponentially increases my potential for self-injury. My potential for self-injury drives me right into yoga class as a stretchy, bendy prophylactic (HA! Stretchy, bendy prophylactic!) to stave off the heartbreak of tendonitis.

And today’s first class of the season brought me stretchy, bendy relief from the pains of yesterday’s run—along with a newfound compulsion to help make your yoga classes more productive and enjoyable:

• Wear something relatively snug-fitting. You spend a lot of yoga time upside-down with your chin pressed to your chest—and after a while you really don’t want to be breathing the stuff that’s trapped inside your shirt.

• Make sure you have clean fingernails and toenails—especially if you’re using yoga class to meet people. You spend the majority of your yoga time with your head near the floor, so pretty much all you can scope out on other people is their feet. And you and your grimy toes never get a second chance to make a first impression.

• Drink a lot of water before class.

• Pee before class.

• Fart before class.

• If you have a sinus headache, SKIP CLASS ENTIRELY.

• There is no shame in staying at Level One when everyone else in the class is pushing through to Level Two or Level Three. Yoga is about exploring your body’s personal limits, not injuring yourself or impressing other people in the room. Besides, people who can do Level Three probably cheat on their taxes.

• Yoga is also about clearing your mind so you can focus on your breathing as you move from pose to excruciatingly painful pose. Do not compose blog posts in your head during class. No matter how award-winningly clever they may be.

• Press your heels to the floor and rotate the top of your pelvis forward in down dog. OH MY GOD does that make the stretch feel good.

Up dog feels even better than down dog. Take extra time to enjoy the stretch it gives you along your abs, the fronts of your hips and your quads.

Dog style is NOT an accepted yoga pose. At least not in a large class setting.

• Yes, warrior one is a dumb-sounding name for a yoga pose. And the pose itself looks pretty gay. Resist the urge to giggle.

• If your sexy, firm-butted instructor presses his body into yours in the middle of class, he’s most likely just helping you find your balance or straighten your pose. Resist the urge to stand up and kiss him.

• People who bring their own yoga mats to class are probably better at it than you. Or maybe they’re just bigger hypochondriacs. In any case, don’t be intimidated when they bend over and pee into their own mouths. That yoga pose is overrated anyway.

• Your instructor will probably end class with a relaxation pose and the word namaste, which is an ancient Sanskrit concept that means—depending on the translation you choose to embrace—“I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Trust, of Light and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.” It is never acceptable to follow “namaste” with “motherfucker.”

• Budget time after class for a shower. Because you will smell like feet when you’re done. Other people’s feet.


Jay said...

Bad Down Doggie, Bad Down Doggie. I will practice Shavasana now.

OnlyInTheSouthEnd said...

warrior one is so Baptiste (aka power yoga). Virabhandrasana sounds so much more mysterious. My yoga "instructor" calls all the poses in the native sanskrit rather than using the "americanized" names for poses.

Jeff said...

This must be why I switched to tai chi....

Spider said...

And I was giving serious consideration to taking yoga - but I am not sure I want to do something that makes me smell like other people's feet...

Alina said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alina said...

The only thing I can link to yoga, besides data from books, is a picture of an Indian woman posted everywhere in my hometown since I can remember (it promoted free yoga classes). So, thanks for the info, Jake, it actually is really useful!

ihatehydro said...

Yoga is certainly challenging. I’ve tried it a couple of times and even though it feels good while doing it, I can’t bring myself to doing it again soon after.

Oh, and congrats on your benign hairy, scaly friend…Oh, and I made it to Chicago!!!! Woohoo!!!

Sven said...

i used to do yoga at the sweatshop with a really hot instructor. but then i realized that i just had more fun staying home and beating off thinking about the instructor.