Friday, July 28, 2006

Let's Talk About Yoga Some More

This is the summer of tree pose. Everywhere I go--A's yard, the deck, the crazy hot/power yoga class--I am the tallest, strongest, steadiest tree I have ever been. It could mean something about my physical and mental state, or it could just be a matter of good floors.

I realized, on my birthday, when I went to the crazy hot/power yoga class, that every yoga class I've ever taken had been taught by a woman. I realized this, of course, because a man taught the class.

The big yoga gurus, the Rodney Yees and Baron Baptistes, are all men.

Do with that what you will.

My ideal yoga teacher remains my first yoga teacher, in some kind of classic the-first-is-always-the-best kind of way. But she was. It was prenatal yoga and she would walk around the room adjusting us, making the most minute corrections that transformed the poses. I never worried about whether I was doing things right, because I always knew she was watching and would catch me if I wasn't and, most importantly, help me to learn. Also, she wasn't so into the clap-trap side of yoga (and here I betray my yoga priorities). I'm sure that class is why I survived ten hours of induced labor without an epidural and walked a mile a week after M was born by c-section.

In Red State Capital City Suburb, my yoga teacher read us passages from gurus and led us through visualizations and I waited impatiently for actual poses. She didn't correct us much either, but she did do the yoga along with us, and when I was pregnant with E, she adapted all her poses and series for me, and it was Red State Capital City Suburb where there weren't many yoga options, so I got used to her.

I haven't found many yoga teachers who truly help you, the individual you, not just the group you, to get your poses right. But most of the yoga teachers I've had in Town do the poses with us, so we can feel one with them and watch what it is to be right (OK, I know, "right" is not the goal of yoga, and in fact undercuts the yoganess of the yoga, but I'm talking about doing poses effectively, not perfectly, or competitively) (shh, we won't talk about the competitiveness of yoga, because we do not participate in such a thing, ever) (besides, our yoga clothes are nowhere near hip enough to even approach the level of competition).

The yoga teacher at the crazy hot/power yoga class did not do the yoga with us. He corrected maybe two or three students during the entire class. He walked around the room spouting clap-trap, when he wasn't mumbling mumbo-jumbo.

The students all had perfect yoga outfits and much yoga paraphernalia.

I'm actually not such a slouch myself on the yoga outfits and paraphernalia front--I was wearing shorts, because who wants to wear black yoga pants when it's 90 degrees outside and 100 inside? oh yeah, the hip yoga students do; but I did have my regulation tight sleeveless top and my very own yoga mat and my bottle of water and my ponytail. But I was old, so much older than those hip yoga students, and I was OK with coming down from my half moon into child's pose because my leg was tired, and I was OK with doing bridge instead of wheel, though then I did do one triumphant five-breath wheel, my longest ever (not that that matters...).

But here's the thing: I had a great class. The clap-trap, mumbo-jumbo though it was, reached me, occasionally. I mean, it really is true that brave people are scared too, they just move forward anyway. That explains why everyone says I'm brave when I know that really I'm terrified. And if you hold on and push through, you can stay in half moon on the other side and do wheel for five whole breaths. And while I wouldn't do crazy hot/power yoga every day--I'm nowhere near hip enough--it's definitely worth visiting the land of hip yoga every once in a while.

And you should have seen my killer tree pose.

[This one is for Andi and Jenny.]


dykewife said...

courage isn't the absence of fear, it's acting despite the fear.

kelly said...

I need yoga in my life again, but doing it at home just isn't enough. I need someone to help me with the poses.

Jenny D said...

I love it! Great post.

I think I happened to luck into a really excellent yoga teacher this summer. He is very precise (almost to point of being prissy, only it's strangely great!) and fixes everyone's poses ALL THE TIME--seriously, at least two or three times every class he tweaks your shoulder so that suddenly everything comes into alignment. It is quite amazing, I still cannot believe how much I like it. DEMENTED!

I'm trying out another local one this afternoon in hopes of having something to tide me over while the Columbia gym is closed in August....