NotSoZen YogaJen

Archive for November 2010

A few years ago I wrote an article about yoga rage for  Because, I don’t often drive, but I do often yoga, and I get angry when fellow yoga classmates trample on the common sense unspoken rules of the road (or on me, or my mat).  And then I get angry that I’m angry during yoga.  But for the most part, I haven’t had too many incidents in the past few years.  However, lately I’ve experienced a onslaught of one particular obnoxious yoga behavior that has resulted in yoga rage flare-ups.  And this is what it is:  I have no patience (approximately: zero) for people who refuse to move their mats to make room for mine when there is clearly, obviously, indisputably more than enough room for both of us.

I’ve been on a very limited yoga regimen due to assorted aches and pains, so let me just say, that when I make it to class, I really, really need it.  Add to that a crappy day and yeah.  Need it.  Which brings me to the restorative yoga class that I went to last night, that I was so excited for, that I so needed. When I arrived at the studio, I entered the dimly-lit classroom with the ambient yoga-esque music being softly piped in, feining for my relaxation fix.  I walked towards a guy arranging his mat in the middle of a huge space and asked if I could fit next to him, and he said, “There isn’t enough room.”  Did I mention that the area in question was huge, with plenty of room for two mats plus lots of space to spread out?  And the same thing happened a few weeks ago, when I asked a woman if she could move over a little in her (huge) space so I could fit in, and she said, “No.”

And this is how I responded to both mat space hoarders:  I narrowed my eyes, clenched my jaw, said in a huff, “O! K!”, and stomped off across the room to find another spot in a dramatic flurry of flailing yoga mat.  Now, I’m not proud of throwing a mini-tantrum, but really?  You’re going to be an #%*&@ in yoga class?  Do you #%*&@-ing own the #%*&@-ing studio?  And it’s not like there was only a sliver of space and I was going to put my mat down on top of theirs; in both cases there was more than enough room for both of us, so why be so stingy with the mat space?  I just think it’s the #%*&@-ing rudest thing and I can’t even pretend to #%*&@-ing be nice anymore when confronted with this obnoxious display of yoga selfishness.

I eventually (internally) worked through my yoga rage last night, and the restorative class was luckily so relaxing that I was able to transcend the mat space slight and actually relax, so much so that at one point I fell asleep. But that rude yogi’s behavior temporarily returned me to my yoga rage of years past, and made me wonder (seethe, internally) why some people just can’t obey the rules of the yoga road.

What in-class behaviors or mis-behaviors leave you seething with yoga rage?  And how do you handle these situations?



When we last left off, I was doused in Ben Gay, practicing yoga in my mind because I was injured and couldn’t practice it with my body, and contentedly and peacefully learning the lesson from my forced yoga break.  Now?  Not so much.

It’s been over a month.  And during that time, my aches and pains have felt better, only to then feel worse again.  After my initial back tweak, I took a week off of yoga – four days until I was feeling better and a couple extra days thrown in for good measure.  And then, on the day that I had decided would be my glorious reentry into yoga, I tweaked my arm out doing something as strenuous and physically taxing as…reaching for my shirt that was draped over my chair.  So then I took another couple of days off, and was feeling better and planning for a morning yoga class.  Lying in bed that morning, happily thinking about the class I would soon be taking, I luxuriously stretched out my other arm and…tweaked it.  So then came another break.  And I wasn’t so excited about yoga-in-my-mind or my spiritual lesson anymore.  I just wanted to move!

Eventually, I went back to class.  I started with restorative classes and then inched my way into active Vinyasa classes, when one day, doing something as strenuous and physically taxing as…sitting, I tweaked out my right hamstring.

Finally, I made it back to my old vigorous Vinyasa practice.  But…it was different now.  I had to pay attention.  Because I had to avoid reactivating the pain on the right and left sides of my neck/back/shoulders/arms.  And now my right hamstring felt pulled, so I needed to prop up blocks for stretchy poses on that side.  And my left hamstring has been bothering me for years due to a pole dancing class injury, so I have to be careful in Triangle and Ardha Chandrasana poses on that side.  And, oh, my lower back has been hurting, too.

I have to be so aware in class now, and it’s annoying.  I can’t just fling myself willy-nilly into poses and feel the yummy juiciness of the unobstructed stretch like I could two months ago, when I was young and limber.  I can’t just space out and revel in the yoga bliss.  I have to vigilantly focus and constantly modify.  Was that a hint of tweak here?  A pulling sensation there?  Do I have to back off this pose, grab more props for that pose?  ANNOYING! I just want to move and flow and feel and bliss out!  I don’t want to have to think and worry in yoga!  I do enough of that in my life and off the mat, and yoga is supposed to help me escape from that!

Or actually…maybe…yoga is supposed to help me be present with what is actually going on.  Be mindful.  Be aware.  Slow down.  Pay attention…   And one day in class I realized this, and felt another spiritual lesson coming on.  An annoying lesson, that I don’t necessarily want to learn, that I don’t exactly feel excited about, but a lesson nonetheless.

I usually like my lessons to be quick and dirty, to just get it and move on.  Quickly.  And this lesson is taking way too long for my liking.  But another lesson is, you don’t always like your lessons, and you never really get to choose them or specify their duration.

Last week I finally, finally, built back up to my pre-tweaked practice, and went to five hardcore Vinyasa classes.  And I felt good.  Mentally clear.  Blissfully calm.  And on the fifth day, I woke up in the middle of the night with excruciating pain in my neck and arm from doing something as strenuous and physically taxing as…I don’t know, probably shifting an inch on my pillow.  In tears from the pain, I stumbled to my bathroom for an emergency application of Ben Gay, and gulped down an Aleve.  And the next day I bit the bullet and made my first physical therapy appointment.

At my appointment earlier this week, my physical therapist said those dreaded words:  “You should lay off yoga for a couple weeks.”  But I already did that!  And I just went back to it!  And I don’t want to take another break! my inner voice pleaded.  And then, I decided to clarify what she meant by that.

Me:  (hopefully)  Like, one week?

Her:  Like one or two weeks.

Me:  (internally)  Ugh.  So done with this lesson.  Just over it!

So now I’m on another yoga break.  And when I go back to class, I’ll probably have to pay attention to my body for awhile, to when I can push myself (optimistically), and when I have to back off (more likely).  And I have fantasies of a day when I will be tweak and pain-free, and able to enjoy flinging my body around willy-nilly in class and mindlessly blissing out.  And I tell myself that when that happens, I will not take one inch of my neck or shoulders or arms or back or hamstrings for granted.  But truthfully, the lesson I’ve learned is that most of the time, it takes a little something going wrong, to have appreciation for when things are going right.

What lessons are you learning in your life right now, in yoga, or otherwise?  How do you feel about the timing of your lessons, and how long they take?  What do you do when you feel like they are just taking too damn long?  Has anything happened that has forced you to slow down and pay attention?  What challenges does that present, and what do you get from it?


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