Yoga Hijinx: Twisting the Body and Mind
During various physical therapy non-happy hours, I’ve heard lots of people complain they got their own injuries from Fun Things like tennis, baseball, skiing, etc. I must be doing something wrong.
My wonky joints are rewards from painting ceilings, raking leaves, shoveling, wheel-barrowing. Work.
So how should I exercise to end my sessions at the PT torture chambers? (cue Asian music)
I’m convinced I need to practice yoga, and do it consistently, or at least enough to justify my flashy spandex leggings and cushy floor mat. I will yoga in the privacy of my home until I can change poses with minimum noise (grunting, groaning, and the occasional faint, feminine fart).
But first a Word about motivation…
When I used to swim, all the necessary prep time created a gradual commitment. I’d get in the car, drive to the gym, approach their computer, remember my password, not be able to sign in, ask the lady what my real password is, sign in, get changed, and shower my make-up off. As I approached the edge of the pool of cold water, I’d figure, “Well, I’ve come this far, I may as well jump in.”
But when I yoga at home, the only preparation involved is moving enough junk out of the way to lay down my mat. And one interruption, say, a phone call, or playing Pet Doorwoman, and all motivation is gone. It’s just too easy to roll that mat right back up and hide it behind the chaise lounge before I’ve realized I’ve decided to not yoga after all.
So when dragging my heels pre-yoga, I motivate myself by dragging up some cute spandex leggings, and think, “Hey, if I’m this reluctant, I’m gonna feel really good afterward: muscles will grow, fat will dissolve, recycles will sort themselves, and junk mail will stop.”
I gush on, “Hey, after yoga, I’ll be in a good mood! I’ll have done something to postpone the onrushing decay. I’m also yoga-ing for my kids!” Because once I truly fall apart, they’ll have to hoist me into the car, onto the toilet, etc. I’m putting off the days of grossing them out with detailed updates on my bowel functions. With that generous thought I put a DVD in the player.
Truth be told, I like my yoga DVDs: the music and cinematography are gorgeous. I even like the petite li’l Asian gal who bends herself into every letter on the keyboard and the hash-tag, too. While I’m loathe to crank my body into unnatural positions, she’s encouraging and doesn’t intimidate.
But let’s face it: she’s Gumby Girl, and I’m more like Dr. Frankenstein’s newborn monster: used parts freshly jolted from rigor mortis.
Best of all, Gumby Girl describes the positions really well, sometimes adding how this or that move helps a particular part of the body. She promises, “This is good for the lower back,” or, “This massages the intestines, and helps with constipation.”
When a pose “helps the pancreas,” whatever that does, it’s rewarding to imagine these awkward twists will make my organs chug away for another half century.
So let’s recap: I need to yoga and I’ll feel better for having done the yoga. So what’s the problem? Well, the reality is, after yoga, I find myself in a snarky, twisted mood, and rascally toward any petite flexible being who says fun words like “feets” and “buh-tocks.”
(Note: I am not making fun of the way she speaks English, which is a bat-crazy language: I wish I spoke Chinese as well as she does English. I just happen to like words, esp. when they’re silly).
And why am I in a twisted mood post-yoga?
You see, in the privacy of my home, I mouth off to the instructor.
I confess, I am not an exemplary student. Yoga sessions go like this:
Gumby Girl: “You might not be able to hold that plank position, so lower your knees to the floor…”
Me: “Already there, sister.”
Gumby Girl: “Now move your nose to the back of your right knee.”
Me: “Riiiggght. You put your little nose wherever you want, baby.”
Several grunts later:
Gumby Girl: “Using your abdominal muscles, lift your legs over your head.”
Me: (abdominal muscles busy supporting my lungs’ hearty laugh) “Well, that ain’t happenin’.” (Instead I use a rocking motion and momentum to get my legs up, and strain the fingers holding my southern hemisphere unnaturally northward. After wobbling through the leg exercises, imperiling the fascinated, spectating pets, I fall, splayed on the welcoming mat.)
Gumby Girl: “Now let’s do Lion Breathing. Exhale with your tongue out, look to your third eye, and roar like a lion.”
Me: (stops posing and looks at t.v.) “This I gotta see.”
She explains about breathing, raising the suspense, then she opens her mouth, and emits a tepid “Ahhh.”
Her lion’s roar sounds like what we produce for the doctor checking our throat: “Ahhh.”
I’ve raised teenage boys. We live in the country. I can roar like Balrog in the mines of Moria.
Gumby Girl doesn’t explain any more about the third eye, but she’s rolling hers up, exposing the whites. I try and end up cross-eyed. My third eye must be above my nose.
The eyes must be a Major Yoga Move, because another yoga teacher, Gumby Boy, instructs, “Soften your eyes.” Snort. I don’t know how to soften my eyes, but I can “roll them” pretty well.
Now despite my natural fall into snarky twistedness, I want to be a professional, serious yoga student. (Cough) well, as far as I can be. So I consider, earnestly, just how does one soften her eyes?
Soft eyes are kinda like …. poached eggs (a little stomach growl there). Poached eggs, with cheese and toast.
Never a quitter, I can’t do the soft eyes, but I can do the poached eggs. I heave myself off my cushy mat and turn Gumby Girl off before she ‘roars’ a piteous protest, “Ahh! Don’t leave, Esteemed Elder! We have not finished! Ahhhh! Ahhh!”
A twist to the right and left and up to the brain…
Minutes later, poached eggs are eyeballing me from my plate. Yum. I may be in a twisted mood yoga-wise, but I’m eating healthy: eggs have protein! Ahhh. Little roar. Munch munch munch. Purrrr…
But a little guilt sneaks in… maybe I’ll give Gumby Girl and her petite feets another try tomorrow. (little roar)
Surely as I practice yoga more and more, moving my feets and buh-ttocks will be easier, and my mind and mood will soften along with my eyeballs.