Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Twist and Shout

199 lbs. since Saturday. This is one plateau with no complaints.

In order to escape the excruciating pain that was yesterday’s Red Sox game (Rays 16, Sox 5), I rejoined the a gym. That should give you an indicator of how bad the pain was.
Los Angeles is the Universe’s center of self-centered behavior, okay? Parking over two spaces to keep your 93 Camry from getting dinged is a daily occurrence. Interrupting an in-progress retail transaction to ask a long question or bitch is part of the scene. Today, though, I believe a new standard was set: a woman was giving herself a full pedicure in the locker room. She had a towel spread out, tools spread out on said towel and completely oblivious to the women trying to get into their lockers, which they couldn’t because she had the area blocked. And this was Northridge, not even Encino, Calabasas or Brentwood.
There will be more about yesterday back in the gym and other dragons slain, but today, something came up: Yoga class.
I took a yoga course over twenty years ago. I’ve bought a few DVDs and watched Rodney Yee. Didn’t actually get down and perform the moves because I was watching Rodney Yee.  I’ve spent the better part of a VInyasa Flow yoga class in the child’s pose (a polite term for fetal position)  while watching guys do amazing things while balanced on the tips of their fingers. Centered show-offs.
When you get right down to it, the most successful pose for me has been the Corpse Pose. You just lie there. My kind of action.
I’ve been considering enrolling at a yoga/pilates studio, but the cost is prohibitive compared to a full-service gym.  At a full-service gym, you may or may not have the best  experience and the skill levels in the classes are mixed. Yoga is something I want to do right and possibly master (and anybody who tells me “forget it, you’re too old” I have a raised middle finger with your name on it).
I went to the gym this morning expecting to just hop on an elliptical machine for a half-hour. However, the class schedule indicated that a yoga class was starting shortly and I thought “Why not? The Universe must want me to go to this class.”
The Universe has a peculiar and cruel sense of humor.
For starters, I am self-conscious about certain things: following instructions (although, when I was in kindergarten, our evil teacher, Mrs. Simons – and yes, she was evil. Just ask anyone from Brattleboro, VT who either had kids in her class or attended it – told us to draw a brown bear with a black outline. I drew a brown bear with a blue outline. I was 5, not a fashionista and had not learned that you don’t mix brown and blue. Nevertheless, this set off the first of many parent-teacher conferences with my mother), looking bad in an exercise class and looking out of place (see comment  about looking bad in exercise class).
The previous night, the line for yoga class was so long, you’d have thought the IPad 3 was being distributed by the teacher. Today, I was lucky, it was a small class. I would be able to : hear and see.
Small class, all right.  A small group of Asian women with Louis Vuitton exercise mats. Oh, yeah. I blended, especially with one of the gym’s black foam mat. Did I mention I wasn’t expecting to go bend and breathe today?
However, the instructor, Buddha bless her, was not a chirpy little 22 year old vegan with a fake rack. Nice lady about my age (Never mind what THAT number is) and a sweet face. I figured “Okay, I can do this. I will NOT spend most of the class in Child Pose. And I will learn something.
Yeah, I learned that I need to see what the instructor is doing. There’s a matter of trust, certainly. For all I know, this woman is calm, centered and balanced because she’s sneaking Ho-Hos while we all have our eyes closed. Or vodka. Or both.
Beyond that, in these classes, I work on the “monkey see, monkey do” principle to learn moves. “Drop your head and focus on your toes” impedes learning unless the instructor is positioned between said toes (which need a pedicure).  I find myself sneaking looks at what she’s doing and hearing “Drop your heads.” Okay, that’s directed at me, but at least I saw what we’re supposed to be doing…
Sit up straight, butt bones on the floor and breathe. I can do this, except…ah yes, my old arch-enemy, The Great White Belly, raises its ugly head (seriously, it IS ugly. Rubens would have said, “Oh, HELL no” to painting it). My lower back, which has been abused by carrying this sack of crap around for over twenty years, protests LOUDLY over the position. Muscles threaten to spasm.  And this is just sitting. Okay, maybe not the best sign…
She tells us to relax our chins (in my case, all of them0 and breathe deeply through our noses. She tells us to relax our foreheads, especially the space between our eyebrows. I stifle a giggle. This is L.A., land of Botox. I’m willing to bet some of those foreheads haven’t been unrelaxed since the stuff got FDA approval.
We begin to move into other poses, including Child’s Pose. I WILL stick to my plan and not just hang out in this pose and whimper. Especially not the whimpering.
Plank: the GWB (Great White Belly) not only has the back muscles threatening to spasm, but the whole body is shaking. I drop to my knees. NO CHILD POSE!! I WON’T, I WON’T, I WON’T!!!! (Okay, so the attitude is childish, but the pose is not. It is modified Plank).
Downward Dog, the clichéd yoga pose. It’s easier for me than Plank. The stress is on the legs and butt, which have been subjected to MBT (the original toning sneakers) for 2 years, so they’re up to the task. I can do this all day. I’d say I can do it standing on my head, but that’s a different, more advanced pose and you have to travel to India to learn it.
Things are going well until Lila, the instructor (whom I have decided I like and I will follow) puts us in a pose with our feet turned out and then announces we’re doing yoga ballet. Wha…what…WHAT?  BALLET?  DO I LOOK LIKE NATALIE FUCKING PORTMAN? YOGA BALLET? What the hell? The last time I did ballet, I was six, I sucked at it (and tap) and I’m pretty sure I drove the teacher to drink because my idea of learning steps was to SEE WHAT THE OTHER KIDS WERE DOING. However, back to 2011, we are instructed to do a plie and breathe deeply. Lila asks us if we’re sweating, which is good because it’s our bodies getting rid of toxins. I’m not sweating, but I I am suppressing a sudden onset fart storm.  We all have our own ways of expelling toxins and there’s no music to cover the potential noise. As we bend into the pose, my knees, snap like rifle shots. Lila just smiles and says, “That’s natural. It’s okay.” Really? I’ve got something else natural I can do, but I don’t think you want it. My butt cheeks stay clenched for the remainder of the class.
This is followed by putting us back on all fours. Okay. Yeah, I like this lady. I can do this. Now extend your right leg and left arm. Aw, Jeez. You know, balance has never been my long suit, really. I mean, I tripped and fell crossing a street here a couple of weeks ago. My right knee has asphalt embedded in it from Revere Beach Boulevard (yes, Revere, Mass.) when I tried to cross it on a rainy day. I went down, the light turned green and I still can’t tell you how I finished crossing, but crawling was involved. I just stuck with Downward Dog and Modified Plank. Lila says something about “Yogi’s Choice” and the phrase “Hey, Boo Boo!” flashes through my head.
I’m doing okay, feeling confident even though apparently I DON’T actually remember a sun salutation.  Then we get to Warrior Pose.
Ah yes, the Warrior. Downward Dog is clichéd for its name, Warrior is clichéd for its look. Anyone trying to sell you a yoga studio or class will inevitably have a lithe young(ish) woman in Warrior on the brochure cover or posters. Or both. And there’s not just one Warrior, oh no. There’s Two. And Three. Three is where you lift your back foot off the damn ground. Warrior Four is only taught in a certain monastery on the border with Tibet. In that one, you lift both feet off the ground.
I manage to get into Warrior One, shaky but there. The mat doesn’t help. It’s plastic, it’s slick, I slide, I fall out of Warrior Pose. Lila takes away my mat. The back muscles and the abdominal muscles are now conspiring against me. However, I go back to Warrior One. Fuck my muscles. I’m in charge and I say they’re going to do this. Without the slippery mat, I manage to hold the pose and breathe. Ha! Still not in Child’s Pose.  I know I’m going to hurt like nobody’s business, but I’m still not in Child’s Pose. AND Lila walks by me without comment or correction as she patrols the floor. I can do this. I can do this.
Finally, we get to the slowdown portion and sitting again. Lila tells us to feel the energy coming through the floor. Since the treadmills are outside the door, I thought the vibration was the thundering herd that has been running hard for over an hour, but who am I to argue with a yogi?

Yoga gentle? I feel like Mahatma Gandhi has kicked my ass.
She smiles, tells me I did well (yea!) and then advises all of us that drinking a lot of water will help to prevent subsequent pain.  That’s the theory. Uh huh. Well, so will drinking a lot of Maker’s Mark and that one’s been proven.

1 comment:

Keep it civil.