Susan's Blog

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

No-Impact Yoga

I am not a joiner. I don’t get into trends, I don’t like groups that much. I like to pick and choose whom I spend time with. But there are times when I feel like I’m missing something. Particularly when it comes to trends a lot of women go in for.

My friend Nancy Bea just did a blog post about the real importance of book discussion groups: it’s all about the socializing, the connections. I totally agree; but I have never been able to find one I enjoy being part of. I guess the closest I’ve come is my Writer’s Group, which is just three women, and we meet sporadically, as our schedules allow. One of us just had a third baby, so she’s a bit strung out; the other just got a second book contract and a column at the Globe Mag so she’s crazed. And I? My babies are growing up and my second book contract is merely brewing. The Globe doesn’t return my queries. D’oh, d’oh, d’oh! I am living in total suspension, waiting for people, just waiting for them to get back to me! Why am I always in this position? I should just get a normal job, rather than this roller coaster I’m on called a writing career.

Speaking of position, and of things I have not quite been able to get, I’d like to talk for a minute about yoga. For years I have been hearing about how great yoga is, how relaxing, how it is really strenuous, how it is great for meditative purposes, how it is a hot trend, etc., etc. I was not attracted to it in the least, because why would I want to spend an hour just stretching and breathing? You stretch to warm up for a real workout; you breathe to live! But — yoga clothes are cute, and I belong to this snazzy new gym, so I figured I’d give it a chance. On Sunday I went for my first class, with my friend Miriam. She gave me the choice of spinning at 9 a.m. or Kripalu yoga at 11:15. It was Sunday; enough said!

I got to the gym early and did some weights and stretches. Then I did about twenty minutes on the Stairmaster until I saw it was time. I rushed downstairs to the yoga studio. Inside, there were little sticky pastel mats spread out everywhere. I put my stuff on one that had no stuff near it, and a woman came over and said, “Uh, that’s my mat.” I walked away with a stupid expression on my face, having just given away the fact that I was the yoga newbie, and I went over to the shelves which housed mats, foam blocks, bolsters, belts, and Navajo blankets. Whoa. What kind of kinky stuff were we in for? I took the belt and went to the back in the sunny spot no one wanted.

My friend showed up late and lay down next to me. We were assuming the “corpse pose,” which is as you imagine it to be. The instructor was a lumpy woman in her sixties, who had a soft voice I could barely hear. She instructed us to relax every part of ourselves. She named part after part, and I found myself thinking, “But you missed my knee! And my thigh! And my chest!” And then, as I concentrated on relaxing, an oxymoron if you ask me, I found that I could not relax my arms. They were sticking out on the sticky mat and all I could think was, “RELAX, DAMN YOU! BEFORE SHE COMES BY AND SEES THAT YOU’RE NOT RELAXED!!!”

I must have tricked her. She jostled my feet a little; perhaps they were even more un-relaxed but I don’t know. Feets is feets. Anyway, then she told us to turn over on our sides and — rest! My friend whispered, “Now we have to rest!” And I laughed, which seemed all wrong for the mood. I thought, “Is she going to make me laugh for the whole class?” And I got all tense but also excited because it seemed like fun.

Then we had to stick our arms out, and suddenly my friend said, “Am I crowding you?” I said, “No, I’m fine!” And then she moved somewhere else! I thought that was funny, too. But it helped me concentrate on the class.

All through the class, whenever we had to stand, I found myself unable to hold the pose, not because it was strenuous, but because my feet were sweaty and slipping off the mat! By the end of the class, I ached just from trying not to slip around.

And that night, I had a terrible pain in my knee. Not my right knee, either; my LEFT knee!

I guess I can’t even do yoga right!

Ned said, “It’s too mellow for you. With belly dance, you get to be girlie and work out really hard. It’s perfect for you!” And there’s no sticky mats.

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