A few weeks ago Rob found me stomping around the apartment muttering dark words about the ‘skinny smiley’ women on my yoga dvd. As I huffed and grumbled my way around the room he made the casual observation (while killing himself laughing at me) that yoga was supposed to be relaxing, but in my case “yoga makes you mad?!!”.
So, why is that? Well, backtrack 65 minutes earlier. I diligently climbed out of bed and grabbed my yoga mat, feeling very virtuous and fully prepared give my chakras some long awaited attention in the guest bedroom. A skinny, smiley yogini introduces my DVD yoga class, surrounded by three perfectly turned out yoga students all of whom appear to be way too toned to be students in my opinion (shouldn’t they have a token, disheveled looking student in there who’s just raced to get there from work, or just rolled out of bed like most normal people in class?). Oh well I guess it’s just going to be me, Miss Super Flex, Miss Yoga Fashionista and Mr Muscles for the next 60 minutes… and of course ,skinny smiley yogini who by now I’ve renamed Mistress of Pain.
I dutifully acknowledge my presence on my yoga mat and honor my body as instructed. Anybody know exactly how you’re supposed to do that correctly? Shake my own hand? Take photographs and salute myself in the mirror perhaps?
Childs pose…. doing ok so far, dogs , cats and cows and all manner of other animals quickly follow…. mountain pose doesn’t present too many problems (unsurprising really – I learnt to stand on two feet 35 years ago)… some balancing pose that sounds like a spicy curry dish is a little challenging but I manage to remain on my mat and not crash into the full length mirror. All the while Mistress of Pain floats around on her perfectly balanced chakras, subtly flirting with Mr Muscles and needlessly adjusting his clothing. Miss Super Flex and Miss Yoga Fashionista’s smiles remain glued to their face as they effortlessly glide from one pose to another.
Next asana …… mmmmm asana… sounds like banana….45 minutes left until breakfast. My stomach starts to rumble at the thought and I temporarily drift off into my breakfast plans. No! Concentrate Jo! Focus on your energy lines.
About 20 minutes in Mistress of Pain ramps it up a level. Suddenly I’m 20 seconds behind everyone else… help I’ve been gapped. Damn it, I’m being dropped in a virtual yoga class! How is that possible???!!
I manage to get back in synchronization with the class just in time for Tikkamasalajasana pose (or something like that). “Feel the harmony of the earth supporting you and pushing upwards under you feet “ MoP says. As my muscles begin to quiver I lose my sense of humor and start hurling abuse at my computer screen “I think you’ll find that’s called gravity dear” I snarl through gritted teeth. MoP seems unperturbed by my outburst “relax your face, yoga is supposed to be enjoyable”. “Yeah right, in your dreams woman”… as I catch a glimpse of my puckered up red face in the full length mirror. I look more like I’m practicing for a gurning competition (see here if you don’t know what gurning is!) more than becoming a yoga practitioner.
And then she does it…. the ‘coup de grâce,’ the deathblow … moving swiftly from a relatively easy standing on my own two feet pose they all launch into The Crow position like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Wooahh! Whaaat? You want me to balance just on my hands with my knees rammed into my armpits – isn’t this supposed to be beginner yoga? Not wanting to be defeated I give it my best shot, and immediately face plant into the chair in front of me. One more try, and my knees slip off my arms and I crash out onto the floor. Third time lucky… and once again I’m up close and personal with the bedroom furniture.
The whole time Miss Super Flex has balanced perfectly in the position making it look like the human race has evolved to balance all our weight on our hands. Maybe I need to see the DVD outtakes to make me feel better.
Pause DVD. I will NOT be beaten by The Crow. Cue Youtube. A thousand videos come up on tips to make doing The Crow easier… along with a reassuring number of clips showing people doing similar clown acts to that which I am currently demonstrating. 10 minutes later my arms are black and blue with bruises and the best I’ve managed is 0.75 very wobbly seconds of balancing. I despondently return to Mistress of Pain, with my tail between my legs. Oh good – just in time for a one legged balancing pose (AKA the inebriated stork pose). I count down every second of the next 20 minutes, hating MoP and her minions for making me suffer so early in the morning under the pretence of avoiding harmful negative energies and realigning my chakras.
Finally, it’s over and I feel…. exhausted, unbalanced and ready to climb back into bed. I feel duped. Isn’t yoga supposed to leave you feeling positive and energized? Maybe I have a clogged chakra or something? Can you take anything for that?
I guess I’m just a bit of a skeptic when it comes to yoga. I want to believe that I’m realigning magical forces that will make me stronger and faster and I truly would love to experience self realization… but it’s just that I’d rather that someone just told me to shut up, suffer through it, and enjoy the pain, rather than try to convince me that a larger force is at work.
So, where do I go from here? I know I need to do yoga, my back is getting stiffer and stiffer the more years of cycling I do and since I’m determined to live to be a grouchy old woman of at least 100 years old I know I need to improve my flexibility and off the bike strength. Ok, I admit it, I also secretly want to be Miss Super Flex and I totally want a six pack like Mr Muscles.
And then the following day I found what I was looking for… aerial yoga… a combination of circus tricks and yoga… with funky drum and base music and a cool yoga instructor who freely admits that she falls over sometimes when doing balancing poses. I love her!
Picture courtesy of www.theyoga-factory.com/