“So this is a beginners yoga class, right, Lauren?” I had asked this question before, but after a back surgery and months of physical therapy, I knew I needed something remedial. Yoga for senior citizens with a fractured hip, perhaps.
“Oh, yeah. The class is really basic. You’ll be fine.”
Reassured, I hit the End button on my phone and slipped a hair scrunchie over my wrist. I was wearing something called yoga pants, and I hoped they possessed magical powers that would allow me to contort my body into painless poses that would encourage the disks in my spine never to jump ship again.
I opened the glass door on the YMCA, and a girl behind the counter greeted me with a cheery smile. She looked all of 18. “May I help you?”
“I’d like to join your yoga class for the evening.”
“Sure thing! Just sign these forms, and I’ll need to see your driver’s license.”
I dug my mug shot out of my wallet and scribbled my name across the bottom of forms that made me pinkie swear not to sue the organization if I carelessly maimed myself on their property. With comforting phrases such as “accidental death” and “loss of life” floating around in my skull, I paid my five bucks and received directions to my class.
By the time I entered, I was five minutes late, and people were already barefooted and striking poses on a series of colorful mats. I skirted the edge and pulled my own roll of teal foam from a nearby shelf and tried to find a location beyond the notice of the teacher. Turns out, there was no such place.
I tugged off my shoes but decided to leave my socks. I hate it when my piggies get cold, and between the AC and the Zen music of rushing water playing in the background, I was already feeling a draft. I put my ponytail holder to good use and then tried to imitate the stance of those around me.
It wasn’t nearly as easy as I had hoped, but I was doing a fair job of keeping up with the class. Sure, my flexibility was limited, but all in all, I was crooking elbows and standing akimbo with the best of them. Then the teacher piped up.
“We are now finished with the warm up.”
Warm up? You mean that wasn’t the hard stuff? And maybe I was just imagining things, but I thought the teacher looked directly at me when she added, “This is a power yoga class.” I had no idea what that meant, but it had an ominous ring to it. Like the words electroshock therapy.
Fifteen minutes later I was hating life and building a strong case against release forms. How could the establishment be exonerated from responsibility when I was obviously out of my mind when I signed the papers? The instructor kept calling out various animal names that sounded like cryptic code to me, but they seemed to cue everyone else into cookie cutter shapes. The wind talkers turned into downward facing dogs, spitting cobras, crows and birds of paradise. That last one required them to weave their arms around a leg and then yank that limb straight off the ground. I looked on and marveled as I tried to figure out how to reach my toes without a muscle spasm that would turn me into a Tasmanian devil. Every time the class struck some new and fascinating pose, I’d look on mournfully, knowing myself to be the dunce of the class as I stared at my piggies, oh so far away, and stood head and shoulders above the rest.
But hey, I couldn’t help but feel encouraged since the teacher would lock eyes with me at intervals and reiterate, “This is a power yoga class.” I was about ready to show her how to power hurl. That sound would be just lovely against the gently croaking tree frogs of her rainforest CD.
At the end of the hour, I rolled up my mat, shelved it with a bit more force than necessary, and walked out of there without bothering to thank the teacher for the lesson in humiliation. I may have gone in there for the pain in my back, but as it turned out, yoga was a real pain in the neck.
© 2013 – Traci Carver