downward dog

Tonight I went to a yoga class at church. Not sure what my motivation was. Maybe it was that I just read Eat, Pray, Love or maybe it was the free childcare. Whatever the reason I showed up with my mat. Thinking, how hard can it be, even though I haven't been able to touch my toes since like 2nd grade. I mean I do have a Wii fit. And although, I usually skipped the yoga parts for the more fun games like hula hooping, I have unlocked a few additional poses.

Actually a few years ago I went with a friend to her pilates class a few times. And really liked it. I was by far the least stretchy girl in the room. I also had a secret fear of farting. I’m not sure why and am thankful that it never happened….but all the stretchy awkward posing with quiet relaxing music and I was just afraid one would slip out and that I would be mortified. I never could relax. And I have been to a yoga class before. Once. But it was more of the beginner version. And I must have been so bad it that I pushed that experience from my memory.

This was a little more intense. And it didn’t help that I laid my mat out next to my friend Brent, the freakin yoga master. He must be double jointed or something which is totally cheating.

I was sweating hard within minutes. Muscles I didn’t even know I had, hurt.
Normally I could blame this on the fact that I am just plain old out of shape. But lately I have been running everyday. And am up to almost 4 miles. Running is different. I just keep going until I can’t. I put one foot in front of the other and after a few miles I can’t even really feel them anymore anyways. I just keep pushing forward until I want to pass out or puke or both.

But this wasn't just pushing forward. This was intentional breathing, stretching, posing and balance. Slow and deiliberate. With peaceful serene sleepy music in the background instead of my trusty running playlist. And it felt really good and I was trying so hard to figure out what arm to put where and what the difference between downward dog and plank pose was that I didn’t worry once about farting. Actually I was just trying not to fall on my ass.

Because a lot of yoga has to do with balance. Which is something I like the call the B-word. (pretty sure I stole that from Nancy Ortberg). I remembered standing on the Wii board as still as I possibly good and those little green dots showed where I carried my weight. Mine was never in the middle. It was all over the place. Which is pretty good analogy for my life and not just my posture.

We moved on to some of the more challenging balance poses and I’m sure the instructor could see my knees wobble. She kept repeating (and I’m pretty sure it was soley for my benefit) that if we have a hard time balancing to focus somewhere on the wall. I honed in on a light switch and my knees stood still. For a few seconds at least. She kept repeating those instructions. To keep your eye on a specific spot or thing ahead of you and that I’d be able to hold the pose better. With less wobbling. And it worked every time. I swear I stared at that light switch so hard I will see it in my sleep. And again, I couldn’t help but think that this mantra applied to much more than my bad tree pose. How much better I do life and less likely I am to bust my butt when I am focused on Christ.

Eventually we got to my favorite part which involved pretty much just laying there. She read a verse. And let it sink in. And roll around in our heads. Which was for the first time all day quiet. Recently I read that prayer is the talking, and meditation is the listening. And I am not a good listener. In real life. Or, and especially spiritually.
I have tried to meditate before. Not so much in any new-agey kind of way, but more of me trying to be quiet and clear my head and just listen but ends up looking something more like this.
“I can do this, just think of quiet peaceful things, like the ocean”
“maybe I should just pray.”
“ no praying, I’m not really good at that either and I am supposed to be listening”
“I wonder if Shaun fed the dog?”
"Hmm, I really need to cut my toenails"
"maybe I could meditate while getting a pedicure"
“Focus. Focus. Focus.”
“this is so not working”
“ok, really it hasn’t even been 30 seconds. This is sad”
“I suck at this”
“maybe I should just take a nap”
And after I wake up from my nap, I console myself with the fact that maybe God was just telling me to rest after all….

But this time, I sit on my mat. Sweaty and sore and breathing deeply and the same verse just keeps pulsing though my brain even though she only said it once. I don’t really want to get up. I just want to keep laying here. And not just because I’m afraid that I won’t be able to move.

So afterwards, the instructor (and my friend) approaches me and asks if I have ever done yoga before. Because well, it was pretty obvious that I had the flexibility of a brick. So I told her jokingly about my Wii experience. Which pretty much doesn’t count.
And that I really liked it. And will probably be back.
And then, if I hadn’t already made a big enough fool of myself in front of her and the zen master next to me I really sealed the deal.
I mentioned how hot I thought the room was and how much I was sweating. I remembered reading about some type of yoga where they crank up the heat to around 100°, to improve circulation and warm up the muscles. I thought I’d impress them with my Eastern knowledge and asked jokingly if this was tantric yoga?
Turns out I was referring to Bikram yoga….and well tantric is something else entirely. Maybe not the kind of something you mention at church.
I almost wished I had just farted instead.


kneesandpaws said...

I share your love for running and Gilbert and admire you for attending yoga. I like your writing too~ looking forward to reading your posts. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Jana@anattitudeadjustment said...

I love yoga. I hope you go back. It is just so, so awesome, when you finally get a chance to do it. There's nothing like it!

AmommymousBlogger said...

That so could've been me-- the wobbling, the fear of farting, the need to keep my focus on God, the slightly off reference to tantric.... :) Love it.

Corinne said...

You know I love yoga :) But the first few times it's really intimidating and hard - just learning what's what, like you said, figuring out the different poses and where to put what arm and all that.
But it's good :) Awesome job, just going!

Anonymous said...

You are too hard on yourself and WAY over-state my ability. I can’t even sit Indian-style (pc term?) without significant exertion. While I appreciate your kind words, I think your perceived lack of flexibility and my perceived wealth of flexibility is more a function of feet position. Like when we had our feet wide and our toes are pointing to the opposite sides of the mat, it looks like I'm more flexible because I have my hands flat on the mat. When in actuality, I just have my feet spread wider so I'm closer to the ground.

Since we don’t have mirrors, I think all of us would benefit from someone else actually positioning our bodies for us. That way, we know how it feels to hold the right pose. I know I get confused about which legs are supposed to be straight & which are bent.

There has been at least one confirmed air biscuit deployment. Surprisingly, it wasn’t me but I was in close enough proximity to confirm that it was not a map squeek.

Stacia said...

Herein is why I run instead of do yoga. And at least when you run, you can fart, leave it downwind, and never have to smell it. (Did I just write that??) =>

Stephanie Flaa said...

You crack me up girl.

Margie said...

I'm back to where I last stopped - and have to say this made me laugh.