Friday, February 8, 2008

Yoga for Dummies

I am an athletic person. Any sport-- any athletic activity for that matter-- is something I expect to excel at. So the first time I went to a Yoga class a few years back, I expected to awe everybody with how quickly I caught on and my incredible strength to do all the poses and contortions. I quickly realized that I grossly underestimated the difficulty of this form of exercise and how it does not cater to my strengths whatsoever. So, after a few visits I dropped that hobby like a hot potato. Until yesterday…

My friend asked me to go to yoga and my mind went directly to my experience the last time around and the idea of being the worst at something once again. This is not in my nature you know. I don’t ever suck at something. Except pictionary. I am horrible at Pictionary. But she assured me that it was the beginners class and just to be sure I checked the website and saw that indeed there were three levels of classes and the one we would attend was named “Basic”.

So there I was, in beginner Yoga class, situated at the front of the room because I arrived late, and positioned right next to Grams, a sweet 65-year-old lady to my right. Well guess what? I still suck. First of all, I take issue with the fact that I was forced to look around every time we were supposed to go into a new pose, as I was the only lost soul that could not figure out from the instructions of the teacher what was expected of me. Why are we using yoganese in the beginner’s class? All I know is downward dog…, which, by the way, kills my hands. Supposedly this is because I am supposed to be putting force through my knuckles and was using my palms. I dunno. What I do know is that when the simplest pose in all of yoga is giving me pause, I have a problem. But what really got me—what irked me beyond belief—is when we were in this side plank balance pose and I fell out of it early while Grams stayed in place with perfect technique. Have you seen my core? This was like someone showing Muhammad Ali how to throw a jab.

And is it polite to ask just what in the world are all the chants and sayings about? It seemed everybody else picked up the cliff notes and I did not. What are you saying? Why are you saying it? Honestly, I really don’t even feel comfortable trying to copy it because am I unknowingly praying to the Yoga God or something? And that ommmmm-ing is not something I have mastered. Where exactly are you bringing that sound from? My diaphragm seems to be broken because mine sounds like humming and that’s it. Besides that, it makes me laugh. I don’t know why, it just does. As does all the heavy intense breathing that is taking place around me. I know that is part of the point, at least I think it is, but I can’t listen to my breathing and focus on my breath when I am busy looking around trying to figure out my foot placement and what my hands are supposed to be doing. So I go through the whole class never really finding my calm center but I am hoping I got a good stretch out of it.

I have come to terms with the fact that I am no good at Yoga. Perhaps I will get better with time and practice. I do know that because my back and hamstrings are 5000% tighter than most people’s, there will be things I will always be behind at. When we are stretching and you are able to wrap your entire hands around your foot while mine stop mid calf, I call that an unfair advantage. I am wound differently. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t improve. Maybe one day I’ll be in the vicinity of my foot. So perhaps I need to focus on my individual performance and not compare myself to the Grams of the world. I will never graduate to Intermediate class, of that I’m sure, but maybe I can improve enough to not be the worst of the beginner class.

6 comments:

kash p said...

I total feel you on the difficulty of yoga. So humbling to consider yourself an elite athlete and get out done by a "regular person" let alone Grams. I'd gladly take repeat 350's over a yoga session any day. You're a friggin riot, this blog is a vivid reminder of how much I suck at yoga

Nikkie T said...

I'm not sure about 350s over yoga... but I get your point. I tried yoga a few times, and I too hated it. Pilates, however, is more my speed. Try it.

Marcus LANGFORD said...

Yoga rules! So I've heard...LOL. Well, much like yourself Brianna, being a bodybuilder has offered me its own level of flexibility, but not to the extent of yoga-type flexibility. Being bodybuilder-flexible is a world beneath yoga-flexible. Yoga-flexible basically means you have no ligament or connective tissue in your body. LOL. But my girlfriend is involved in yoga and enjoys it very much, but a brotha like me.....I will keep with the standard stretching and flexibility level.

Marcus LANGFORD
I'm A KEEN! Member

lw said...

I'm not sure that grams was "sweet"....I think that a "sweet" person would have a basic level of consideration for others and therefore, would not have stolen our (perfect for beginners, hidden in the corner, w/enough room for two designer mats) spot. It could not have been more obvious that we were together and yet she still rushed right in between us to jack our place. I think that she knew she had us in a vulnerable position because we were trying to act nice and yogi-ish and so we couldn't yell at her in front of everyone. We were taken advantage of by a grandma who had a better side plank. At least we had the cutest shoes. (Even if we weren't allowed to bring them in class. )

kiemie said...

Bri, You are bananas! I was crying. THe truth is all coaches should force their athletes to take an intermediate class as a form of punishment? It's definetly not for everyone but atleast you tried.

Brianna said...

lyra...YOU were the rhinestone girl. i had regular old tennis shoes!

New word alert....

Yoga-ish: acting nice when you really don't feel like it. love it.