My GP has recommended I take up yoga to relieve stress and aid with joint flexibility. Ok, I can dig it. I don my industrial underwear (95% lycra and 5% cotton) squeeze into a sports bra to minimize jiggling, and top it off with my ¾ length stretch capris and an old tee shirt. Yoga mat under my arm I confidently stride into the local yoga studio.
The place is hopping. I guess there’s more stressed, inflexible people in society than I imagined? After kicking off my shoes, I line up at the counter to register my attendance for the class. Glancing around I note the average age is 30-something and average height is 5’9”, at least. My rudimentary workout wear is drab and colourless compared to the vibrant, skin tight designer duds these hopefuls are sporting, and at 5’4” I suddenly feel dwarfed by these redwoods in spandex, but I force myself to not pass judgement. I am, after all, here on a mission to improve my mind and spirit….. surely I fit in, right?
After a brief wait, the doors to the yoga studio open and we file in quietly, quickly selecting our territory and spreading out our mats. The ‘regulars’ immediately drop to the floor and begin warm up stretches. I pointedly select a space in the back corner where there’s lots of room for me to fall out of position without crushing anyone and where the audience to my activities is minimal. There’s space in front and beside me, perfect!
These people look very comfortable here; they’ve done this before. They whisper to each other familiarly and nod across the room to those they recognize. Not wanting to appear like the newbie, I make eye contact with a lanky brunette across from me and wave as though I’d been expecting her. She glances around to see who I’m waving at, then shrugs and resumes talking to a fellow beside her, who is already sitting in a lotus position, eyes closed and palms up as though awaiting a donation.
A man who appears to be mid forties comes in and drops his mat right beside me, and after a series of groans, settles onto it, legs out in front of him, pot belly comfortably resting on his thighs. I smile smugly at his ever-so-slight imperfect physique and feel a new sense of confidence in my own. Hey, we all have to start somewhere right? So I smile reassuringly at ‘belly-boy’ and pretend to resume with my own warm up routine. Stretching my arms towards my feet, I gasp at the sudden sharp pain from the muscles in my lower back. When did my arms get so short? Glancing over to see if belly-boy heard me, I’m relieved to see him fussing with a lump in his yoga mat and apparently oblivious to my faux pas, thank God!
The instructor strides quietly to the front of the room, signaling the start of the class and I relax, confident I’m unobserved and thanks to belly-boy not likely to be the weakest in the class.
Just before the doors closes, she sweeps in,,,,,, the Goddess. Long, lean and blonde; her yoga pants caress every curve; the matching skin tight top fits like saran wrap. She has a pink yoga mat tucked under one arm, and in her opposite hand she holds what I’m sure is a grande low fat, no fat, no flavour, skinny mocha with a hint of cinnamon. Her hair is carelessly piled on top of her head and on anyone else it would look sloppy, but on her it’s sexy. Bitch
She quickly spots the empty spot in front of me and gracefully spreads her mat out like a magic carpet. Within seconds she’s on the floor and folded into a pretzel, eyes closed, a slight smile on her lips, towel and water bottle at the ready, Yeah, like she sweats.
The instructor is quick to welcome everyone and immediately launches into the lesson. We stand in mountain pose, arms spread to receive the sun, or love, or something. We then fall into downward dog and I note belly-boys arms are quivering. Gravity isn’t pretty in this position. Dropping to our knees we slide back into child’s pose and I’m horrified to see I have a large split in the crotch of my capris. Good thing I’m at the back of the room. The Goddess, I see, is curled into a ball, serene and comfortable, that relaxed smile still on her lips. After a series of stretches we are guided into various poses that ‘open our joint sockets’ and ‘allow the flow of oxygen to course through our bodies’. Periodically we are instructed to stop and hydrate. Belly-boy rolls onto his side grasping for his water bottle. I know this because I was right beside him grasping for mine.
After a, too short break, the instructor directs us to lay on our backs in preparation for our ‘core work’. I don’t like the sound of this. Positioning our arms and legs in an upright position (kind of like an upside-down table) we are guided to swing our legs down in the opposite direction of our arms to ‘open the core’ and ‘expand our back and waist muscles’. Belly-boy is breathing heavily and has a pained look on his face. Goddess has yet to break a sweat and moves easily from one side to the other. I feel a ripple across my stomach and note that my underwear has rolled down cupping my belly blub provocatively. (Note to self to get new high waisted underwear)
We move through slow motion poses, pausing to ‘feel the core strengthen’ and I can hear belly-boy whimpering in tandem to my own moaning. Our final position before the cool down is on our belly and is guaranteed to stretch our core muscles by raising our legs and shoulders to the sun. I think my hips have seized and belly-boy is openly sobbing now. The Goddess is silent, sleek, and unruffled. We are instructed to roll onto our backs in preparation for the cool down, shavasana and belly-boy and I flop into a corpse position grateful for having survived. After a period of silence, where our calmed minds and bodies return to the ‘current’, we roll into a sitting position, thanking the Gods for this healing session. Belly-boy chugs his water, mops his brow with his shirt and belches.
As I slowly gather my things and watch the class participants file out of the room I overhear the Goddess making lunch plans at a nearby salad bar. Ok, I’m not in the shape I thought I was but I’m closer than I was and I silently vow to return for another class as I limp through the parking lot to my car. This is good for me, right? Yoga, fresh air, a healthy diet – the start of my plan to wellness. I drive off feeling a sense of accomplishment. I do feel more ‘open’ and ‘flexible’ and ‘one with nature’. I make a mental note to replenish my yoga wardrobe, determined to embrace this new lifestyle – time to celebrate the new me! As I glance in the rear view mirror of my car, I see Belly-boy behind me in the McDonalds drive through…….. and I smile.