Walking into a strange place where I don’t know anybody is something I have done many times in my life. However, that doesn’t mean that I am extremely comfortable with it. Quite the opposite, I get nervous, my heart races and I get butterflies.
So I combat that by making jokes with strangers to make friends. This works at conventions, group job interviews, or birthday parties.
It does not work at Yoga.
On my first day of Yoga I am the second person to arrive in the classroom. The only other person there is another guy who is dressed all in white. I’m not really sure what I am supposed to be doing, so I just watch him and mimic.
He rolls out his mat, so I do the same.
He then walks over to a shelf and grabs 2 heavy blankets and a pillow which he then brings back to the mat.
I have absolutely no idea what these are for, but I do the same. So now I’m sitting on my Yoga mat, with 2 blankets and a pillow. Wait, is this a nap class? Nap Yoga? Is that a thing? This is going to be way easier than I thought.
The other guy kneels in front of a small altar at the end of the room, lights a candle and says a prayer to himself. I realize now that he is the teacher and I should probably leave the altar alone.
He then busies himself with some other preparations. Other people have come into the room now. But since I have already grabbed my nap kit I'm not sure what I should be doing. So again, I try to do what other people are doing.
My immediate instinct is to start chatting with people. But before a Yoga class starts, it’s pretty frigging quiet. It is like everybody has suddenly entered his or her own personal space.
People are lying on the floor with their eyes closed, they are touching their toes, they are standing on their head.
So right away, I’m not going to be able to relax by making friends. And I’m also not going to be able to chat out my nervous energy; I just have to sit there. And sitting still and being silent are two things I have NEVER been good at. I’ve been moving around and making noises since I was in the womb.
What’s sad is that the movements and noises are almost identical to what they were 27 years ago.
Some people are already sitting with their legs folded over each other, and since my body is incapable of that, I just lean back on my hands like I’m sitting in a field.
And I know I should be focusing on meditating and being at peace in the space, but I can’t help but stare at people and think a million things.
How old is that woman?
That chick has an intense yoga outfit.
Isn’t that guy to fat to bend?
And so on and so forth.
At this point all I can hope for is that I don’t accidentally fart during class. I know this is supposed to be a peaceful supportive environment and that is a natural bodily function but I haven’t been able to let myself fart in front of anybody I’ve ever dated, so I’m certainly not going to be able to break peaceful wind starting now.
Class starts and immediately we launch into chanting. I am immediately uncomfortable because chanting “om” out loud is not something I ever do. And singing “hari om” over and over again takes me right out of my comfort zone. The only thing that makes it better is that our eyes are all closed.
I don’t really know what I’m saying but I’m keeping an open mind. It feels vaguely like when I would go to church as a small child. You stand there mumbling the words to prayers you hear every week without really knowing what they mean but knowing it’s supposed to be good for you.
The only difference is I never had to try and touch my toes in church.
We finish chanting and do warm-ups. And then we start doing poses. It feels good to pose. My crumpled self is slowly starting to come out of its crumpled self. This could work. I can feel the benefits already.
The class progresses and I am able to things like the fish pose, or downward dog, or sun salutation. Though the teacher first pronounces things in their native origin. So what I hear is:
Alright now we will be doing Samjamaramarubadub or Locust Pose.
I am very grateful for intro level instruction.
Then we end the class with breathing exercises and deep relaxation.
The deep relaxation is my favorite part. We lay on the ground with our eyes closes. We should be meditating, but it is all I can do just to stay awake and not add snoring to the list of bodily functions I have exercised in this class.
The breathing exercises are slightly more challenging. One of them involves breathing in and out very quickly 25 times. It’s actually quite simple but I won’t understand how to do it until the third class I take, and instead of breathing in and out, I just keep breathing out and am really shocked when nobody else is wheezing by the 10th breath.
The other breathing exercise involves closing one nostril at a time and then breathing into and out of that nostril. This makes extremely paranoid since this process is what some people use to blow what is called a “snot rocket.”
I’m just trying to get into this Yoga thing, the last thing I need to do is launch a booger onto the foot of the person next to me. I mean it was all I could do not to fart on her.
But in the end all of my boogers stayed in their cave and as for breaking wind, well let’s just say nobody heard anything.