I haven’t done yoga in many, many years. In fact you might say I have had a yoga phobia. I’m not even sure why.
When I was in college (like a million years ago!) my boyfriend and I took up a home course in Bikram yoga after seeing the extremely sexy and appealing yoga-in-a-Turkish-prison scene in Midnight Express. It looked pretty irresistable. So we bought this book, and I bought a Danskin leotard (LOL) and we commenced to learn the poses along with Bikram and his cast of inflexible movie stars. (he had these hilarious pose photos – you can do it perfectly like Bikram here, but if you are a normal person with hamstrings of concrete, you may do it like … Debbie Reynolds!) But seeing the imperfect movie stars was kind of reassuring.
After that one stint of doing yoga in- what – 1978? I stopped and actually have not been back since. I’ve had a weird chip on my shoulder and I don’t even know why. At some point I came to associate yoga with sanctimonious Cafe Gratitude– type vegans AND with women who put on makeup and $150 Lululemon clothes to exercise. I mean, if you’re going to do yoga, I kind of think you ought to be doing it while wearing rags on a concrete floor. LOL. It’s supposed to be a spiritual practice, not a practice in consumerism and looking stylish.
Also, I can’t sit upright with my legs extended and since you have to do that ALL THE TIME in yoga, it makes me feel cranky and inadequate. Maybe that’s the REAL reason.
BUT… my friend who moved to New York was back in town for just a few days, and she invited me to her favorite yoga class, and said the instructor is AMAZING, and then we were going to go to the Bakesale for Japan together, and it’s really the only opportunity we had to get together, so… what the heck. I went.
First of all. This was a Level 2-3 class. Hahahaha. Second of all, it was PACKED. (popular teacher/ Saturday morning) Thirdly, I thought it was an hour class but it turned out to be 90 minutes more like 100 because he went overtime. YOW.
It started out innocuously enough. Some “getting in touch with your breath/body” stuff which segued into some very gentle neck stretches, and it had been going on forever, and I thought, not so bad.
Then it got bad.
There was a lot of downward dog and plank activity, and warrior pose stuff and even flying on one leg, but the thing that got to me was the Rabbit. (picture above) Except we not only did it like the picture, we also did it while our back quarters were still downward dogging, and one leg up in the air. We were to put all the weight of our bodies on our HAIRLINE. I mean, ow.
This yoga is no joke, people. I have had a few forays into “gentle” yoga or “restorative” yoga and this was a total kickass workout. I was shaking and trembling and sweating and really FEELING IT. It felt like it went on and on forever, but in fact it was around 95 minutes. Give or take.
When it was over, I was trembling like a scared Chihuaha for about an hour. I felt really… shaky. But then after that I felt good. Really good.
That’s my takeaway message. I’m probably going to do more yoga because it’s like good medicine. I think it’s good for me and does things that my other workouts don’t do. I’m going to start investigating different classes and see which ones might be a good fit for me. This one was pretty hardcore. At one point people were actually doing HEADSTANDS and I was like… whaaaaattttt? No way I was even going to go there. But it was good, and I do think another barrier was broken in Foodie McBody-land.
After the class we went over to the main Bakesale for Japan location. In my mind I was thinking this might be a day when I’d break my chip vow and try some sugar. Everything looked freaking AMAZING. But in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth it to me. I took a tiny nibble of something called a “sesame stick” and it was on the sweet side so I didn’t eat any more. But I also got some miso pork (made from Sendai miso, how perfect could that be?) and some farm eggs and little cheddar crisps made from cheese and black rice – wow, right? Yum.
It was a good day. And I definitely stayed on track, both exercise and sugarwise. Yay!
Tell me: what do YOU think of yoga? What kind do you do? What kind do you like?
April 2, 2011 at 9:00 pm
I just LOVE that book cover! And also have my prejudices against yoga, suspicious that it’s really just for self-selected people who are already extremely flexible, and not for us others with normal connective tissue! Also, I have a standing prejudice, thinking: if it’s not aerobic is it really worth the time? There you go; a self-professed aerobic chauvinist. Now ask me about my Zumba class this morning . . .
April 2, 2011 at 9:35 pm
berkeleygal, I’ve been an aerobic chauvinist as well! And I think weight training helped me get over that. But man…. this was such an intense workout, I was dripping POOLS of sweat (and it wasn’t the high-temp sweaty yoga either!). I think it does things that other sports can’t. Maybe one day I will grow to love it.
April 2, 2011 at 9:04 pm
you crack me up! I started doing yoga a couple months ago on the advice of my doctor because of all my silly sports injuries. I stumbled into a “all levels” vinyasa flow class and fell in love with it. Yes, it’s hard. It’s intense. People are doing things like crow and headstands, and while I can’t do those poses, there are some things I’m good at (most warrior poses) and I feel really fantastic afterward. It’s been really good for me. I hurt my hand when I fell at tennis last week and had to miss yoga the next day and I really missed it.
April 2, 2011 at 9:46 pm
Oh, people. I do yoga with my beach ball belly hindering my every pose, but I do it anyway. I feel great doing it and I feel great at the end. It’s true I go to a “gentle” yoga based on Ana Forrest’s style of training, but I sweat through every class. Gentle it is not, though it sounds more gentle than Foodie’s class today. For someone of my current weight and height, yoga is a far more sustaining practice than an aerobic class. Much less intimidating and judgemental, too.
April 2, 2011 at 10:27 pm
wait, is that Juliet Prouse on the cover? I used to do yoga at Monkey Yoga on Lakeshore which ripped me a new one pretty much every time I went, but I was sort of locked in since my two best friends went, they came and picked me up from work, and afterwards we always ate dinner together and it was like this great circle of goodness with a really ouchy good for me core. Now I’m in LA and as it turns out, an amazing person in my office is studying to be a certified yoga instructor and offers us a 1 hour workshop every week for FREE. On top of that, it feels like I am learning to walk all over again, since Sarah (the instructor who happens to play taiko and gagaku and actively still performs in an Indonesian gamelan orchestra, while maintaining a thrice weekly swimming routine) began the entire process from the very start. Beginning poses, held for loooong periods so that we could learn what the correct pose felt like and she could give individual attention to each of us to help with adjustments, strengthen and talk us through anything that didn’t feel good. Needless to say, I am so much more fluid, much stronger, and much happier in general with the yoga practice. The moral of the story? friendship and generosity is what gets me onto the mat, and a healther patty is what keeps me there.
April 2, 2011 at 11:16 pm
I love that you decided to try it out anyway! AH stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things is something we definitely do not do enough of. Props for you girl and you’ve inspired me to do something out of my comfort zone – pole dancing! haha jk jk =P
April 2, 2011 at 11:28 pm
Pole dancing?!? Um, that would take a SERIOUSLY cold day in hell for me.
April 2, 2011 at 11:19 pm
You were amazing! I hope you go again. And maybe you won’t, but that’s okay, too–you might go again, in the future, and find it a better fit for you then. Like how you (re)discovered running–! 🙂
David is an amazing instructor–but his class, as you know, was not a beginning class, so high 5 to you! The GREAT part about yoga is that it is NOT supposed to be competitive. So if the poses are ones you are not ready to do, just do downward dog or child’s pose. It’s what I do, because I really have a very weak core. I do what I can, and then I go into a pose that is comfortable for me. (You probably saw me wobble quite a bit in class today).
My first time in David’s class eons ago (when I first tried yoga) was a great experience but so so so difficult. There are instructors that are way more laid back/easier, so go check them out. I LOOOOVE my instructors in NYC.
If you can hang out in David’s class and survive like you did, I know you will find a class that jibes with you. Ignore the Lululemon people. Ignore the high-achieving headstand people. Chant when you are comfortable–and if you are not, meditate.
I love how yoga makes me feel. It is such a wonderful counterbalance to running. And it seems to build all those muscles I never thought I had (the “in-between” muscles, is what I call them).
I do NOT like the “cafe-gratitude-esque” part of yoga culture. But take what you want from it. There are lots of good things to be had. 🙂
But mostly–applause to you for confronting a phobia! VICTORY.
April 2, 2011 at 11:49 pm
Thank you so much for talking me into it. You know what a HUGE block I had (no pun, ha ha). It definitely brought me into new territory. THANKS! THANKS! THANKS!
April 2, 2011 at 11:22 pm
p.s. for the record…I am not athletic, or skinny, or highly flexible. I’m a chubby writer who cowers at most exercise. but like Foodie, I have vowed to become stronger in body.
April 3, 2011 at 2:23 am
I think you did great! I couldn’t believe that you’re new (relatively) to yoga. I have a regular practice, and I fall over all the time. And everything Christine says is right – don’t do anything you don’t want to do, and don’t worry if you can’t do it; it’s not supposed to be competitive. I love it because when you’re really focused on a pose, you can’t allow yourself to think about anything else, and all the stress and distractions of the outside world melt away, at least for that moment. It also really increases awareness of your own body, what your muscles can and can’t do, what’s in alignment and what’s not, etc. Sorry if this is all too “Cafe Gratitude” for you. 😉
And for the record, pole dancing REALLY works your upper body and core. (Tip: wear shorts and don’t put lotion on your legs beforehand.)
April 3, 2011 at 11:40 am
Via Chobani Contest and because I’m in love with your blog now! I tried Yoga for a while and I just couldn’t seem to quiet my thoughts. But during culinary school attended the classes and totally loved it! I like it better when I have someone guiding me through it!
April 3, 2011 at 11:55 am
That book cover is intense to say the least. I am a huge fan of hot yoga! I love sweating it all out while doing some simple poses. I wish there were more hours in the day for yoga and other exercise because I’ve been slacking recently.
April 3, 2011 at 2:43 pm
I just got into yoga about two years ago. Then I went to a class after taking a bad fall, and TOTALLY screwed up my back! (I blame no one but myself.) It’s been a long year of healing and I really want to get back to doing yoga. Guess it’s time to explore some class options like you did. No headstands for me though! LOL.
April 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm
I compare Yoga to “Exercise.” I know that sounds funny because yoga is a type of exercise, but there are so many different forms and within those forms teachers have their own styles. Just as every person picks their preference of exercise whether it be dance, running, etc. I think too, everyone has a different yoga preference.
We are fortunate to live in an area where yoga is so popular and there are so many different classes and styles to explore. I’m glad that you’re so excited about it! I’m so glad to be friends with someone who is continuously open to exploring all sorts of realms and edges in life!!!
April 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm
LOL why don’t you like café gratitude? I always hear tons of good things about it! My roomie and I almost went once but everything had nuts in it, and im allergic to some nuts and he’s allergic to all, so that pretty much killed the restaurant for me. I think that yoga would be very painful on a concrete floor. And I do plead guilty to wearing makeup to yoga, or to any exercise. Well, especially since I go after work. But I probably would wear it anyway, its part of getting dressed. Everyone went to that bake sale! I figured since I’m still not doing sugar, no reason to salivate over them. I started yoga about a yr ago. Im going this evening actually. I’m not a big fan. I went to bikram that you mentioned maybe almost 2 yrs ago & it made me sick for a couple days after. Regular yoga, at my gym, actually makes me feel good after. But its boring. Im always looking at the clock, really impatient for the hour to be over. I am not a fan of downward dogs because I don’t like being upside down and it hurts my wrists. But over time, ive gotten much better at it. Ive noticed that now the teacher comes around to adjust me, and its tiny little things that she doesn’t bother to even adjust in other people so that makes me feel good. And its helped my patience, and it really is hard exercise sometimes with those poses, like you said. I can even do a shoulder stand now, though not a good one yet. So, that’s my stance on yoga. Not especially enjoyable, but good for you. Like green tea.
April 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm
Lol do a search on Cafe Gratitude on this blog and you’ll see why. 🙂