Once or twice each year, I decide I am going to take up yoga. Given all my running and the general hyper-activity of my life, yoga seems like a good idea for my mind and body. Also, it meets my criteria for exercise* and I hope to one day have amazing arms like my sister-in-law. When I say “take up yoga”, what I really mean is I am going to spend a few weeks talking about how I am going to take up yoga and then never follow through on my plans. So except for the brief period in business school where I took a combo spin/yoga class with my friend Katherine, I have made no effort to actually “take up yoga.” At least until my friend Sarah asked if I wanted to check out a yoga place she found in our neighborhood. What follows is the true story of what we experienced on Saturday afternoon.
Everything started off normal enough – the instructor introduced herself to us, people laid out their yoga mats and I started worrying that I was about to humiliate myself in a room full of strangers. This is where normal ended. Before class officially started, a woman shared a story about how she recently stood in a coffee shop vestibule with Alec Baldwin while they both played on their cell phones. The instructor commented that it was “romantic”. Now I like Alec Baldwin more than the next person, but nothing about standing in a vestibule while not talking to or looking at Alec Baldwin (or any person) sounds romantic and I am not leaving out any part of the story. The whole story was: “Last week I stood in a coffee shop vestibule with Alec Baldwin while we both played on our cell phones.” And the instructor found this romantic and the storyteller agreed.
Class started and I was glad the weird chatter was over. But it turns out the yoga instructor fancies herself a bit of a comedian and the weird chatter continued. Early on in the class she suggested we try to become Facebook friends with Alec Baldwin’s girlfriend and a few minutes later she told us to either focus on our form or think about Alec Baldwin. When we had the left leg twisted around the right and were trying to squat while holding our arms above our heads, she told us to pretend we were holding a croissant in our butts – and then she laughed and told us we would get it later. I still don’t get it and I am not sure I want to.
And the commentary was not the end of the weirdness. Take the playlist. For a yoga class, our instructor selected Pearl Jam, Train, Simon & Garfunkel, and Swell Season. What about “she lies and says she still loves him” or “you have broken me all the way down” says inner-peace? Also, are yoga classes supposed to have playlists?
Now consider the sneak attack massages the instructor gave out at the end of class. As Drops of Jupiter faded, the lights went out and I was feeling relieved class was almost over. I closed my eyes and started looking forward to being able to laugh about this whole experience with Sarah on the way home. Suddenly and without warning, my shoulders were being massaged and not gently. Had this class been relaxing, the massage would have ruined it. Were I a normal person who enjoyed massages, this still would have made me feel uncomfortable (Just ask Sarah. She is normal and was equally uncomfortable.). I am not one to enjoy a massage by a stranger. My feeling is that if you want to get that close at least buy me a drink first. At a minimum please give me a warning or ask for my permission before putting your hands on me in the dark. Just a useful tip if the opportunity presents itself to any of you.
Lastly, let’s discuss the instructors closing words before she turned the lights on. “Think happy thoughts and nice things about yourself because everyone out in the world is judging you.” Really? Everyone out in the world is judging me? This never occurred to me. I always thought everyone was thinking about themselves or the presidential election or what to make for dinner. Turns out the world is busy critiquing my choice to run and then do yoga three hours later without showering or changing my clothes. My mistake.
And after all that, I think I might go back next week. My arms already look better.
*Criteria for exercise: 1. No serious equipment or clothing required. 2. Can be done almost anywhere.