I am bad at yoga.
Yes, yes I am. I took an early morning yoga class yesterday because my lower legs felt like they might snap off at any second. Running seemed a bad idea. I thought that 75 minutes of stretching and low impact strength work would help. And it did. I left feeling looser, less sore in the legs and much of my tightness was gone. I can actually walk normally again. Plus, I got a killer upper body workout.
But, boy, am I bad at yoga. I understand that those who are good at yoga will say that you cannot be “bad” at yoga, by definition of the practice. But since I am not part of that elite group, I will say it again. I am really, really bad at yoga. I am so bad at yoga that I don’t even believe in the mantra that one cannot be bad at yoga.
There are the obvious external cues that I am bad at yoga -the fact that I cannot touch my toes, spread my legs into a “V” or even complete the precursor to the precursor to the precursor to a headstand. But I realized yesterday that it is on the inside that I am truly a disaster.
It started when the Yogi told us to concentrate on breathing. I can’t breathe properly when I have to think about breathing. I never think about breathing unless I am in the final stages of labor. I thought it was an instinctive function that just happened at regular intervals. I run, walk, spin, bike, etc. and never think about breathing. It just happens. So when I sit and they tell me to focus on my breathing, I get all screwed up. Am I too fast? Too slow? Too deep? Too shallow? I’m supposed to do it at my own pace? What is my pace? I didn’t know there was a pace? Once I start thinking about it too much, I start stutter breathing and begin to feel lightheaded. I wonder whether maybe the Yogi is screwing with me because she senses that I don’t actually believe in the mantra that one cannot be bad at yoga.
Then Yogi tells us to clear our minds. Big mistake. I am an active thinker and my mind goes a mile a minute on a slow day. Nothing makes me more anxious than being asked to clear my mind. How do you clear your mind? If you’re thinking about clearing your mind, doesn’t it become a mind full of thoughts about clearing your mind? How can a mind be empty – isn’t that a sign of death? I can’t stop focusing on the fact that my mind is extremely full instead of clear and I miss the transition from cobra to downward dog. Damn, now I’m lightheaded, in the middle of an existential crisis and completely out of step with the rest of the class.
Next Yogi tells us it is time to ”let go of all thoughts other than focusing on your own path.” Huh? WHAT PATH???? I know of no path. I do know that the music is now off and I really can’t keep my mind clear of random thoughts amidst the deafening silence. And I have no idea what or where the path is. So I do what any subpar yoga student in Fairfield County, CT would do -I start to count the number of Lululemon clothes that are being worn by the Real Yoga People in the class. Lululemon is quite popular here. There is even a store nearby. I may be the only woman in town not to own a slimming, stylish Lululemon workout outfit, due to the fact that I am really frugal when it comes to clothes I know I will only wear to sweat in (I don’t mind paying extra for quality, but never for fashion; I’m a born and bred Bostonian). Lululemon clothes have never showed up in my local Marshall’s, so I don’t own any. Trust me, if they ever make an appearance at a discount store, I will be all over them. They really are cute. I’m just cheap. By the way, I begrudge no one who wants to spend their money on Lululemons. We all boost the economy in our own ways. I like Le Creuset cookware, for example.
In case you were wondering, out of a class of 14, 10 people were wearing clothes from Lululemon. That means that there were only three horribly unfashionable yoga students other than myself who were Lululemon-less. And some people were wearing both Lululemon tops and bottoms, so of course, I had to start calculating how much their outfits cost – I’m guessing somewhere between $150-$200. Not too shabby. My black capris and T-shirt from Target all but blushed.
Once I’m done counting Lululemon logos, I tally up the instructor’s tattoos (7). I start to sweat a little thinking that if she possesses any sort of 6th sense, she is going to kick my Target-clad sit bones right out of class (Yes, she was sporting Lululemon, too). I can’t even make eye contact with her, which is good because I think I’m supposed to be looking at my chakra anyway.
It only goes downhill from there, spiritually speaking. I all but solved the issues surrounding the fiscal-cliff, mentally finished my Christmas shopping and planned out this weekend’s meals, but I never once had a clear mind. Not for one restful second. And it’s a bummer, too, because otherwise, the class was a raging success: the stretches and poses were really good and very challenging for me. I’m sore (in a good way) and about as loose as I get. Is it possible to do yoga class even if you cannot open your mind (Or is it close your mind, if you are trying to shut off thoughts? Open or closed? Which is it? I can’t do either.)? Am I allowed to continue if I think of it simply as my “stretching and strengthening” class? Or is that like attending a Church service just because you like the music? Am I just wasting everyone’s time if I can’t focus on the path (and I repeat, “WHAT FREAKIN’ PATH?”)?
I do want to start attend class regularly. I think that my body needs me to start attending class regularly. I think my mind could use a little yoga conversion, as well, though I’m afraid I just might not be capable of it. Still, even for the physical benefits alone, yoga would be a great addition to my regimen. But my heartrate goes up just thinking about the fact that I know I’m a total imposter and one of the Yogis is going to catch on to me someday. I think I’m just going to have to gamble on them being too Zen to actually call me out on it, because damn, that stretching felt good.