I have never taken a yoga class in my life. I always believed I would be too loud, too impatient, too snarky to channel my inner Zen while folding myself like a piece of origami. Sometimes you have to slough off preconceived notions and move outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes you have to take a yoga class.
I did it for Pammy, 22, my son’s girlfriend. She joined our local YMCA and is enthusiastically embracing all their great programs. She thought I might like to embrace them with her, and her darling face looked so eager and so sweet I didn’t have the heart to explain to her I am only good at working out when I can punch things or growl swear words under my breath.
I didn’t know what to wear. I have yoga pants, but only because they were on the clearance rack at Old Navy. I do not wear them outside the house. Instead, I hauled on a pair of leggings and a t-shirt I got at an Ironman event; not as a participant, but I thought it would give me more sporty cred than a pair of 5 dollar stretchy pants.
We were a few minutes late and wondered where we would camp out. It was a beginner class and we were both beginners, but it was evident we were the only newbies. The instructor gave us mats and we plunked down in what we thought was a small clearing. Like a blob of oil dropped into a puddle, everyone around us scrambled away. I had no idea you needed room around you to yoga. It turns out you do windmill type things with your arms and your legs as well as lying there thinking calm thoughts.
With the lights initially dimmed, we were told to feel the ground. This was the part I was scared of, the mind clearing, getting in touch with your inner self, listening to your breathing part. As everyone around me exhaled gently and thought of nothing, I tried to make myself not wonder why the place smelled like feet while remembering I’d have to get the winter tires on soon.
The lady beside me soon clued in that I was copying her. I tried to give her a smile that was reassuring yet not creepy, but I soon learned that yoga involves a great deal of pretending you’re not seeing things that you are. I’ve pulled off more attractive poses while delivering my sons.
I was running a beat behind everyone else and also keeping an eye on Pammy, who’d ended up a row behind me. This was usually achieved by peering out between my legs while assuming the position they call Downward Dog but in actuality is more like Arse In The Air.
I was doing okay, for the most part. I wasn’t earning any style points, but I’m bendy enough that I could fake most of the poses once I’d seen someone else do them. Towards the end of the class, however, we were instructed to sort of squat. I looked at my neighbour who was perching herself delicately in a squat. I attempted to duplicate it. I fell over. And over. And over. I looked back at Pammy, who smiled and waved to me, like a small bird sitting on a fence.
I kept trying until they mercifully dimmed the lights, announcing the yoga closing ceremonies. Many of my neighbours pulled blankets over themselves, lying on their backs as the instructor’s dulcet tones ended the session.
I don’t know what they were thinking about, but I got home and called about my tires.