Yoga in the fetal position

Last night I decided it was time to get my lazy behind up and actually work it out a bit. I have always been an active person and have been an avid worker outer (my blog…I say that’s a word) since I was in high school and my track coach taught us all the finer points of navigating a weight room. From that moment on, I have made sure I had access to a gym and I exercised faithfully.

Until we moved.

Something switched off inside of me when we moved down here. Part of the problem was the stress of moving, which working out would have helped with but the other half of the equation is the fact that we decided to save some money by not enrolling in a gym. “We can just work out at home,” Lee said matter of factly.

My husband grossly underestimates my motivation and drive.

It’s true, we have a lot of weights, and we have a work out bench and a pull up bar. We have plenty for me to use, but the final nail in my active coffin was a complete lack of desire. With the kids home all day, working out didn’t feel like an escape anymore – it felt like a chore. And so I stopped.

For the first time in twenty years, I’ve gone almost six months without doing anything. I’ve run here and there and on occasion my husband has managed to get me out to the garage to lift a few weights, but mostly I’ve become a sedentary bump on a log.

Bad Mommy!

So last night I pulled out a Yoga DVD that we purchased ages ago and popped it into the DVD player. It’s an 80 minute Power Yoga workout led by Rodney Yee. Yeah, I don’t know who he is either. All I know is his royal blue biker shorts are a little too bright and a little too spandexy. It’s…awkward.

About ten minutes into the Yoga video I felt myself starting to unwind a little. I was finally working out and I had missed it. “Stand tall and feel the muscles loosen in your back,” said the soothing voice on the DVD. Rodney doesn’t talk. He just stands there in his painted on shorts on a cliff over some ocean.

I can only assume that yoga is more fun and easier on a cliff over the ocean. That’s assuming, of course, that you are able to resist the urge to shove your instructor over the side of the cliff…

About ten minutes after we loosened our backs, I began to sweat as soothing voice over dude and Rodney led me through the Warrior 2 pose for the umpteenth time. “Now slowly lower to the push up position,” The Voice told me and I did even though my arms were shaking rather violently.

Down dog.

Up dog.

Be the Cobra.

Throw up.

Six months away from working out was long enough for me to forget how blasted hard power yoga is. About thirty minutes into the workout, I lost all feeling in my shoulders, which was actually a welcome relief to the searing burn of my muscles lighting on fire. I accepted the numbness as a sign that I was either dying a slow death or my body was simply releasing a defense mechanism against stupidity.

Forty minutes into the workout The Voice instructed me to stand on one leg, the other leg straight ou behind me. “Now very slowly, reach your arms out over your head. Have one strong, straight line lead from the palm of your hand to the heel of your outstretched foot. Feel the power surge through your body.”

If power feels like pain, I felt it. I was strong.

Shortly after this, The Voice instructed Rodney and I to lay down on our backs and tuck our feet up as close to our backside as possible. “Now place your hands on the floor by your ears and slowly push up into an upward bow.”

And  upward bow? What is an upward bow?

It’s a back bend!

I pushed myself up into a position that I haven’t tried since early high school when I was competing in gymnastics and my body was under the impression that such torture was normal. Last night, however, my body laughed at me. Out loud laughed, then trembled, shook and I plopped back to the floor. I watched Rodney on the screen, folded backwards in bright royal blue spandex shorts.

I may need counseling after this experience.

We did three “upward bows.” Well, Rodney did three. I did one and a half. At this point we were 45 minutes into the workout and I was now numb from my shoulders to my knees. I attempted to continue on, but when Rodney laid on his stomach and The Torturer The Voice told us to grab our ankles behind us and raise up to form a human boat, I threw the remote at the TV and curled up in the fetal position.

This morning I woke up and found the sensation had returned to all of my limbs. Unfortunately that sensation is pain as my muscles try to figure out what happened to their extended sabbatical.

Stupid Yoga.

If you need me today I’ll be sitting quietly on the couch trying to harness my Inner Chi. Whatever that means…

Image Credit

The Lotus in a Field of Mud

I took a yoga/pilates class at the gym last week.  Why? Hard to say…I think I’m a glutton for punishment.  Actually, the yoga/pilates class wasn’t nearly as difficult as the yoga class I took on Saturday, which kicked my butt. 

Seriously, my butt was sore for days…

At the end of the class, after we’d taken our short nap and aligned our breathing with our heart center (huh?) we sat up, hands clasped at our hearts and the instructor, in a vibrating alto of a voice, said, “May we all shine like the lotus in a field of mud.  Namaste.”  At which point she bowed low.  While everyone else bowed back, I stifled a giggle because really?  What does that even mean?

And I had an immediate flashback to my honeymoon when my brand new husband and I decided to try our very first yoga class together.  We were at an amazing spa and resort off the coast of Seattle.  It was very earthy and granola.  Yoga just seemed like the thing to do there.

So we arrived promptly at 9:00am on the second day of our honeymoon and we met our instructor, whose name I don’t remember but in my imagination I call her Celeste, because it seems to fit the picture I have.

She was probably in her early fifties and had long, matted hair – very hippie.  She didn’t wear a lick of makeup and looked as if she had sworn off bra’s around 1965.

To put it mildly, she was…an odd bird.

We got inside the small yoga room where she lit incense and turned on warbling music that immediately made me feel like Dorothy in the field of poppys.  It suddenly dawned on Lee and I that we were the only two people in the room with Celeste.  We looked at each other and giggled.

Then we began the workout.  “Take in deep breaths,” Celeste stage-whispered over the drowsy music, “And align your spirit with the stars of the universe.”

At this point I opened one eye and looked over at Lee who had his hands at his side and a look of horror on his face.  “What is this?” he mouthed to me.  I shrugged and stifled another giggle, then went about trying to align my spirit with the stars.  I’m pretty sure I never accomplished that task.

Fifteen minutes into our private yoga class, Celeste finally pushed Lee too far.  Mind you, this was our first experiece with Up-Dogs and Down-Dogs.  We’d never heard the words “Shatacharasana” or “Chutitutunga.” 

I’m pretty sure those aren’t actually yoga terms, but it’s what I hear when the instructors speak.  It’s all very confusing…

Aaaanyhoo, Celeste was leading us in our first Cobra.  A pose which requires you to keep your lower abs on the floor and push your shoulders up and back.  As we scooped forward, Celeste, who up until this moment had been whispering all her instructions with great reverenece, burst out in a deep voice, “BEEEE THE COBRAAAAA.”  And she thrust herself upward.

After I swallowed my heart, which had leapt into my throat, I laughed out loud.  I couldn’t stifle it.  But Celeste was so well aligned with the stars that she didn’t even hear me.

I looked at Lee who was standing up and rolling up his mat.  “I’m leaving,” he whispered. “This is weird.”

“You can’t,” I mouthed.  “We’re the only ones in here.”

He shrugged, then walked out.  My husband of 48 hours abandoned me in a room with Celeste the yoga nazi. 

I didn’t want to leave because I was afraid that we would bump into her somewhere on the grounds of the resort and she would know that we were the people that bailed on her class and place some kind of star-powered yoga hex on us.  So I stuck it out.  I did the tree with Celeste. I balanced on my elbows with Celeste.  I did a shoulder stand with Celeste.  I became one with the cobra with Celeste.  And all the while I cursed my darling husband for leaving me to suffer alone.

That was only the start of the many, many bizarre situations that Lee and I have managed to get ourselves into in our nearly nine years of marriage.  We have definately seized the day in our married lives.  I’m so glad I married someone who isn’t afraid to try new things.  And I’m pleased to say that he hasn’t abandoned me in an awkward situation ever again. Thankyouverymuch.

(Soon, I’ll tell you about the time we visited a Ukrainian Orthodox church here in St. Louis and Lee kissed a cross.  Classic…)

And now, every once in awhile when we’re sitting quietly, one of us will burst out with “BEEEE THE COBRAAAA!”

Now if I could only figure out how on earth to be a lotus…