May 14, 2014
Bend and Stretch (or should that be I'm Still Standing?) -- Michelle Douglas
I’m told to take a mat, a blanket, a bolster, a block and a belt. What??? There’s equipment? I find a vacant spot by the wall and stare at my equipment. The lady next to me, seeing me scratch my head, sets up my equipment precisely. She tells me in an offhand way that, “Iyengar yoga is OCD.” I swallow and nod and glance at the door with longing.
What am I doing here?
I lie on my mat in what I guess is some kind of opening out relaxation pose. My neighbour tells me, “Nothing in yoga should hurt.” I decide against telling her that the stretch in my left thigh is already starting to hurt. Quiet descends. A surreptitious peek around the room tells me everyone is now in this pose. I throw myself back into position. But…am I supposed to be relaxing? Or maybe I’m supposed to be breathing in some kind of energy to ready me for the class? Also, exactly when is the class going to start? It’s kinda cold in here, but I guess I’m not supposed to wrap myself in the blanket.
I stare at the ceiling pondering these imponderables when the instructor suddenly looms over me. He asks if I have any injuries he should be aware of. This gives him a big tick in my mental notebook even if he is looming. He then asks if I’m menstruating. Okay, so now he has a big black mark against his name and I’m thinking he’s a pervert.
What am I doing here?
The class starts and I’m ready to drop by the end of the warm up. He shows us poses. Holy crap! He wants me to do what? Look, I understand that yoga is a non-competitive sport, but this is a BEGINNERS class, people, and a woman has her pride. So I grit my teeth and push on. The poses are alien. The instructor moves about the room correcting alignments and giving instructions. He’s methodical and calm and I start to think he might not be a pervert after all. Especially when he moves across to me with a, “Michelle, that’s an advanced pose” and takes the block from my right hand and puts it in my left hand. Oh, that’s better. Then we start on a series of planks and yoga immediately becomes a form of torture.
I discover that there are lots of poses where one balances on the knees and elbows. The hardness of the floor through the mat pinches mercilessly. This isn’t something I’d considered. I also don’t think yoga is such a good idea when one has a full bladder. And another thing—I totally appreciate the concept of pacing oneself, but other than lie there like a landed fish (can’t do that—pride remember?) how exactly does one go about adjusting a pose so it’s not quite so challenging? If I had any oxygen to spare I’d consider asking.
Ninety minutes is a LONG time. We do lots of poses. We finish with a meditation. I’m supposed to relax after that? Ha! I start composing this blog in my mind instead.
Finally I’m allowed to leave. My knees and elbows are bright red. I’ll have bruises tomorrow. When I pay my money (I paid for this?), I need to lock my knees to prevent my thighs from shaking. I totter out on my jelly legs. I buy fish and chips on the way home as there’s no way on God’s green I’m cooking dinner tonight. I doubt I could stand that long.
It’s Monday night. I stop hurting come Friday.
Have I been back? Of course I have. I love it. :)