This week has started on a Sunday, as I have put my masculinity on the line, attending the first of (I hope) many yoga sessions. I threw down twenty hard-earned dollars for a two week, all-you-can-yoga pass.
Walking in to the studio in a somewhat yuppie part of town, I am either the youngest or second youngest of the participants, and one of four males and about ten women. The instructor is a gentle and welcoming woman, with an incredibly calming voice. Ok, I can do this.
I have always had an interest in the rejuvenative effects of yoga, and though I have read a lot on its history and practice, I have never attended more than three or four classes in my life, all of them heavy on fifty-something Desperate Housewives.
I have entered this yoga class to help me deal with daily stressors, and to gain lost (or maybe, never-there) flexibility. The snickers from a few friends who ridicule my choice of exercise as feminine will easily be overshadowed by that flick of the wrist over the rim and into the hoop. But, yeah, it’s a little embarrassing, especially when I come in two minutes late and knock three yoga mats off the shelf, sending echoes throughout the dead silent, relaxed room. And I am the only wearing socks. Yup, no bare feet for me.
As a formerly (presently?) competitive athlete, this “Introductory” class is quite humbling. The poses are alternately challenging, painful, uncomfortable, and inhuman.
I sweat, twist, and, at times, fail. Tough to say, but there are a few poses that are too much for me, and I have to stop.
Towards the end of the workout—yes, this wording is indeed apt—we are challenged by our instructor to see if we could perform the pose called “The Crow.” This pose involves one on his hands and knees, leaning forward onto his hands, which are spread on the ground in front of him, and lifting his body weight off the floor, with only the hands touching the ground. Many people, all of them women, are unsuccessful. Three of the men have varying degrees of success.
I am not one of these three men.
One woman, noting the troubles most of the class had with the pose, remarks out loud, “Man, that’s hard. This one’s for the guys, though. We just don’t have the same upper body strength to lift ourselves."
Yeaaah. See, what had happened was…
I must lay a few things out right now. I have yet another excuse already laid out: I have a friend in town. A friend who is a brother to me. So I must focus on his visit, right? Ok, ok, I can still make time for the workouts. But I’m just letting you know ahead of time, so you’re not disappointed in me.
Also, I haven’t yet dared to test my vertical leap, or see how close I can come to dunking. This is the purpose of the quest, right, so what is holding me back? Like the purported horrible movie from this summer: Knowing. Knowing I am quite far from dunking. Knowing I don’t seem to be able to even dunk a tennis ball. Knowing that I can’t do what I saw a 5’10 player on my basketball team do a few weeks ago.
What we don’t know can’t hurt us, right, and I wonder why I should be surprised that I haven’t peeked behind the curtain yet, and tested myself. Much of my current life is governed by this maxim. I don’t want to look at my online checking account, though I am well aware that it is much smaller than it should be, due to reckless spending.
I don’t want to check the text message beeping on my phone, knowing that she can’t (won’t?) go out this weekend with me.
I don’t want to look at the pile of paperwork on my teacher’s desk, because I want to pretend, even for a minute, that my workload isn’t that intense.
As Monday dawns, I am happy to get back in the weight room, to have a cause, to...okay, it’s 6:15 pm, and I haven’t done anything. But I will.