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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Middle Age + New Age = Splat-tastic!

LivingSocial recently advertised a deal for yoga or pilates classes at a studio halfway between my office and my home.  I had begun to notice serious strain in both my hamstrings and my waistband, so I thought these classes might help me attack two problem regions at once.  I bought the voucher despite a so-so track record with Living Social. 

Lawyers don’t read fine print unless we’re being compensated for it so I failed to see that the classes eligible for the deal were offered infrequently and at odd hours.  Finding one that fit my schedule provided an excellent introduction to contortion.  Based on timing alone I selected “Rockin’ Vinyasa,” an all-levels group yoga class that meets on Mondays at 6 p.m.  I didn’t know what “vinyasa” was but “rockin’” sounded good to me since garden variety yoga seemed like it might be slow. 

My arrival at the studio, by contrast, was anything but slow.  I barreled into the parking lot at 5:59, burst through the front door, scribbled my name on the sign-in sheet and parted the curtains that separated the foyer from the class area. 

Women sitting on mats covered most of the studio’s hardwood floors.  I hopscotched across the room and squeezed into an unoccupied corner spot at the front of the room, all the way over on the right hand side.  My peripheral vision was apparently destined to get a workout, too.

The instructor was a middle-aged woman who was not fat by any means but didn’t have the physique of someone who spent a lot of time on the run.  She began by assessing the energy in the room.   She declared it “pretty good.”  She might have rated it “excellent” had I not unfurled my yoga mat like one of those New Year’s Eve party favors you blow  into. 

She waited for me to get settled and then instructed us to focus on our breathing.  

“Work on letting go of the day,” she said in a soothing voice.  “Study your intentions, and perhaps make a dedication.”

I hadn’t dedicated anything to anyone, as far as I knew.  But I had spent hours as a teenager listening to Casey Kasem’s “Top 40 Countdown” on Sunday afternoons, and the “long-distance dedication” feature was my favorite part of the show.  During this segment Casey would read a letter from a heartbroken sap in a place like Yonkers who wanted to send a big slice of Chicago cheese like “You’re the Inspiration” to the girl he met in the funnel cake line at the county fair in Dubuque when he was visiting his cousins over the summer.  The memory made me snicker in a very non-yogi manner.

The instructor looked at me and raised one eyebrow, signaling that she knew an interloper when she saw one.

I had no idea who or what I could dedicate the session to --most people who know me would refuse to be associated with my slapstick masquerading as yoga—so I just focused on trying to center my mind. 

I was making decent progress until the instructor told us to chant.  As the rest of the room solemnly buzzed out an “ohm” I busted a gut.   Were these people serious?  I glanced around and saw nothing but serene faces with closed eyes and pursed lips.  While this crowd might tolerate a wide range of yoga experience, I doubted they felt the same way about maturity so I composed myself and tried to concentrate. 

As soon as we finished the new age-y stuff, the pace picked up dramatically.  Our instructor moved us quickly through a sequence of poses, coming back to the one called “downward dog” before repeating the series again.  After a few times through this she told us to “take a vinyasa.”  I didn’t know exactly what she was referring to but I was pretty sure it wasn’t ibuprofen or a nap, the two things I really wanted to take just then.

I survived the session and have 4 more to go.  Or 276 in downward dogs.


  1. Wow, I didn't realize how easily I got off when I took pregnancy yoga and the only new-agey part was at the end when we sort of bowed our heads and said "Namaste." (Which I didn't say b/c I'd never heard it before and had no idea what they were saying.) Oh, if only I could take that yoga class with you! (Then again, we'd probably both get kicked out for insubordination, so perhaps this is best.)

    And thanks for bringing back the memories of Casey's Long Distance Dedications. They were my favorite part too--I remember being riveted to every cornball story (and they didn't souond cornball at all when I was 10--they were dreamy. I think some even made me cry!).

  2. You and I in this yoga class might resemble my sister and I in the pilates class we took together a few years ago. Toward the end of one session, our instructor encouraged us to "let it all go," which in one woman's case referred to what sounded like years worth of stored up digestive gas. My sister couldn't contain herself and neither could I. Every time we caught each other's eye, we'd end up in an immaturity 'do loop' that still snags us from time to time. Oh, I loved the Long Distance Dedications, too! They definitely brought tears to my eyes back then. Now, too, but for entirely different reasons.