Downward What?

I mentioned a while back that I’ve been learning to do a little bit of yoga, and I wanted to follow up here with a little more about that.

For those of you who don’t know me, I should start by explaining a few things. Set the scene, so to speak. First, as should be obvious from my profile picture, I am not a slim person. What is a little less obvious is the fact that I have in my fifty year-old body not one single ounce of either grace or coordination. It’s like living in a machine with mismatched parts that don’t quit fit together.

Something as simple as walking down the street can be a real challenge, what with my right foot often pausing to say to my left: “Why, hello! Fancy meeting you here. Have we met?” To which my left usually throws in a hearty, “No, we haven’t! Let’s shake on it!”

Now just to add to the general mayhem, toss in the facts that I rarely exercise voluntarily and that a big chunk of my Franken-spine is fused with metal.

All of which boils down to the realization that I am not a Yoga person. I am, in fact, the anti-Yogi.

My sister is in the process of becoming certified to teach Yoga, and she’s been willing to drive out to my middle-of-nowhere town to teach me. Since my apartment is tiny and hotter than the surface of the sun, she chose the the pretty little gazebo in the park in the center of town for our lessons.

park

 

First thing I did was remove my glasses so I couldn’t see how many people could see me. Sort of like an ostrich burying its head in the sand. If I don’t see the horrified expressions on the faces of people staring at my giant butt in the air as I “Downward Dog,” then I can pretend that it never happened. Just please don’t ever mention it to me. I am sure there are support groups forming even now for all who have had the misfortune of glancing in my direction at the wrong moment.

She started by throwing out some yoga terms. Drishti. Tadasana. Mula Bandha.

“Now you’re just making stuff up,” I accused after that last one.

“I’m not!” Mula bandha, she explained, is similar to the Kegel exercises I lied about doing during all of my pregnancies. Apparently, it’s all about someday being able to sneeze without crossing my legs.

I’ll admit, I was pretty resistant to the whole Yoga thing at first. When I think of Yoga, I picture a lean young woman in a jogging bra and shorts, stretching and posing slowly on a beach in front of a peaceful sunset. I just can’t wrap my brain around a fat middle-aged woman flailing about on a colorful mat in the middle of the park.

My sister adds a wonderful touch of humor to her lessons. “I brought some bug spray,” she told me one week in her soothing Yoga-teacher voice. “It’s all natural and environmentally friendly and doesn’t work for shit, but you feel really good about yourself while the bugs eat you alive.”

She gives me homework every week between our classes. “How did it go this week?” she’ll ask me.

“I’m getting better at Mazeltov,” I’ll tell her.

“You mean Mula bandha?”

“Right. Mitsubishi.”

In just a few short months, I’ve learned that I love Yoga. More precisely, I love the way Yoga makes me feel. My old, fat, stiff body is feeling so much . . . well, I can’t really describe it. Warmer, stronger, more open. I am standing straighter, sleeping better. Maybe even breathing better. I am, however, still struggling with the Manischewitz.

Yoga’s not about fitness. It’s completely non-competitive and it seems really odd to go to an exercise class in which I barely break a sweat. There’s no cardio, no goal-setting, no pressure. I’m probably not going to shed a single pound by doing Yoga, but I am gaining so much more.

Even if I never master the Manicotti.

So, if you’ve never tried Yoga, I highly recommend taking a class or two. Give it a shot. What have you got to lose — other than perhaps a bit of your dignity? And if you have tried it, I’d love to hear from you. Love it or hate it? And how long did it take you to master the Molybdenum?

 

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9 thoughts on “Downward What?

  1. You’ll be glad of it even if you do a little yoga every day for a steady few days, trust me on that one. I’ve been doing yoga since I was fourteen, when I had to take a class for school and the yoga teacher kinda grudgingly told me (‘bellowed’, more like, in the middle of the hall) that usually fat girls can’t flex and she was surprised I could. I tend to take all the hoohaa about spirituality in yoga with a pinch of salt, but hey, it can be a great form of meditation in addition to letting you bend at joints you didn’t know could move in that direction. The physical bit is more satisfying to me, but some people find the mental bit more fulfilling, I guess.

    Chant if you like, or don’t, but you’ll definitely notice how much happier your body is, with a bit of regular yoga.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely! I wish I had tried it sooner. I’m with you about the spirituality aspects of it so far — I find that my mind wanders and I get bored when I try to meditate. Corpse pose is sheer agony for my ADHD brain!

      There’s a video going around on Facebook right now of a larger woman doing some astonishing Yoga stuff, and she talks about all the things you can accomplish when you believe in yourself. She’s sort of my new hero now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yeah, she’s pretty fabulous. I think the spirituality aspect just stems from being silent and holding a pose and looking within and all that. Maybe I’m not deep enough or the muscles stretching out feel just distractingly good, lol. Have you gotten to Cobra, Dog, and Cat yet? It starts a love affair with your lower back, lol.

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      • We do Cat/Cow, but not the others yet. Up until now, she’s been helping me focus on my upper back and shoulders. I have a fused spine from C5-T2, so this is helping me with my mobility, posture, and pain control. It’s the first time in five years I’ve been able to stand straight. This past week, I was actually able to look UP at the sky. Amazing!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As one of those nutty yoga people as several friends affectionately refer to me, this post put the biggest smile on my face. What you described is exactly what I want people to get when I sing the praises of yoga. It warms my heart to read that you are gaining good from practicing yoga. Thank you for writing about it in such a beautiful way. Xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So glad you are enjoying yoga, Amy! Being your yoga guide is the highlight of my week. Can’t wait to explore the other bandhas – Uddiyanna, jalandhara, pada and hasta.

    Namaste, dear one…until Thursday!

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  4. My partner does yoga and it’s helped her a lot.

    I used to do it when I was in my early twenties, but my free time nowadays is taken up with writing my books. However, I’ve loved Yoga whenever I have done it.

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  5. I’m glad that I’m forcing myself out of the house early on Thursdays to make it to yoga class. With all the stress in my life I needed to do something physical for me. Between the arthritis and raging headaches I have had trouble finding something soothe my mind, body and spirit more than going to church on Sundays and singing with the choir. I just wish that I didn’t have to leave early from class to run off to work. And yes, librarians do have stress, just not all work related. : )

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