Yoga may not be for me. I see its value for other people and I applaud their persistence and skill. But certain aspects of yoga drive me a little nuts.
The names of positions are interesting. Downward Facing Dog, Child’s Pose, Warrior 2, etc. I don’t know them, of course, so when the teacher says a pose, I must look at her to see what she’s doing. I got a crick in my neck at the first class from having to look at her and try the pose at the same time.
And these women that teach the classes I’ve gone to are so trim! It’s disgusting to see their lithe, 40-something bodies bending so effortlessly. It isn’t as though they are teens. This yoga thing obviously works for them and they look terrific. But my aging body can’t do all the poses theirs can. And you must realize that the classes I’ve been to are “Gentle Yoga” and “Slow Flow Yoga.” Yes, I should have begun with “Beginner Yoga,” but it’s on Monday nights only and I can’t dump my Bible study girls for that.
I bought a month of yoga at our new local yoga studio, Mint. It’s lovely. The teachers are gracious and caring and undemanding. None of my angst is their fault. They made it as easy as they could. At the first class, I was inspired by meeting Sally, who confided that she’s 87 and can’t quite do all the poses but she loves it. She was adorable. So I can do this, too, I thought.
Wrong. The slight, occasional pain in my left leg worsened after a couple of sessions. I knew it was the Child’s Pose that was exacerbating my problem, but my pride forced me to do it anyway. How foolish!
I know I really need the balance part. It’s just mortifying to fall over when everyone else is balanced. I can do it about 25% of the time, and that’s not enough to save my embarrassment the rest of the time.
But as off-putting as the activities themselves are the words the teachers use. They kind of apologize for so much Sanskrit, but it’s there, nonetheless. The basic ideas of yoga are not suited to my personality. I like the marching and the lunges of my usual exercise class. (Okay, so it’s Silver Sneakers, much as I hate to admit it.) I like the punching and kicking with energy and not the slow, easy movements of yoga. I like the rock music instead of the soothing strains at yoga.
“Release your thoughts and accept your feelings” and “Clear the physical and emotional obstacles in our body to free the breath,” and other comments such as those. Not my thing. Saying the “universal Om” does not appeal to me, nor does ending the class with “Namaste”—whatever that means. I feel like a crabby old woman for wanting to stick to English, but there it is.
So then I tried the yoga class at the YMCA. Much more laid back, which I appreciate. Still some of the jargon: “Find your area of tension and breathe into it.” Really? Still “Namaste” but no “Om.” I might be able to handle it once a week, but lying on my side for 5 minutes at the end while the teacher sprayed people’s toes with lavender seemed ridiculous to me. I have things to do! I can’t take a nap at 11 a.m. Maybe if I get there early enough to be at the back of the room instead of the front, I might just ease out…
The slowness and the philosophy go against the grain for me. Although I’m certainly not athletic, I am action oriented and can’t handle the deliberate nature of each movement. And that’s integral to yoga.
I know my body is a temple and I should honor God with my body as well as my spirit. And I do—praising him in song and raising holy hands when I’m inspired to do so, serving others. I’ll just have to stick with my previous ways of keeping my body healthy—Silver Sneakers, dancing, and walking in our beautiful town. And this lovely time of year makes walking outdoors even more delightful. Think I’ll head out right now.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
I Corinthians 6:19-20