NotSoZen YogaJen

Archive for November 2011

Angry woman
After a hectic day at work today, I ran out of the office and dashed downtown to make it to yoga. I was anticipating a hardcore Power Vinyasa class that would stretch out my body and soothe my mind, to a soundtrack of John Mayer, Adele, and possibly some D’Angelo thrown in, as the teachers at this particular studio are known to play pop music and the occasional R&B.

The first thing that was off when I arrived was that all the rooms I normally take classes in were already full, so I was directed to a room I hadn’t been in before. A smaller room. But the lights were low and even though there was no coat rack and I had to ball up my jacket and shove it in my bag, I felt like I could still have a soothing class here. I could be open to change. Even though this was not how I’d envisioned it, I could transcend my disappointment and embrace this new yoga experience. I could become one with the (small) room.

Then, as I was trying to squeeze my bags onto a make-shift shelf that was really just a crowded table in the back of the room, a girl said to me in a condescending, bratty voice, “It’s not your fault.”

“Oh–what?” I asked, thinking that maybe I’d accidentally bumped into her when I was trying to maneuver my bags.

“Nah-thing,” she quipped (bratty voice still applies), giving me a stern look before returning to arranging her bag.

And then the yoga rage started to percolate like a burning in my chest and seep into my veins. What? What’s not my fault? That I’m a sub-par, unaware human being who isn’t enlightened enough to know when I accidentally bump into someone? Is that what you meant, bitch?

Taking deep breaths and trying to get myself into the calm yogic state I’d envisioned being transported to in class, I walked back to my mat at the front of the room and sat down. To my left was a good-looking guy, and on the other side of him, the bratty girl plunked down.

“Ohhh, you work in finance?” I heard her say to him. “That’s soooo interesting! Hi! I’m Shawn, nice to meet you!” she said, jutting out her hand to shake his.

WTF?! I thought. One minute, you’re going to be an asshole to me, and the next minute you’re going to flirt? In yoga?

My yoga rage was bubbling over as class started and the teacher dimmed the lights. But I couldn’t focus on class; I was lost in my interior monologue telling this girl off for being a bitch when all I wanted was a nice, peaceful yoga class to restore me to balance. A few minutes into class, I found myself standing with my arms raised above my head when I noticed that everyone else had their arms by their sides. A vague recollection of the teacher saying, “Drop your arms” a few moments earlier came back to me. I swung my arms around ala when you trip and recreate the trip to pretend you did it on purpose.

OK! I thought. Let go of the rage and focus!

But when I focused, I noticed that there was no music. Did this small, shitty, coat rack-less room not have a sound system? Frantically, I glanced around, and my gaze fell on speakers in the windowsill. But where was the music?

“Today,” the teacher said, “we have the opportunity to practice in silence. Not by choice, but by circumstance. So I want you to breeeeaaaatttthhhhhe extra loudly, and let the breath be our music.”

I don’t want musical breath! I want John Mayer in Warrior One, Adele in Extended Side Angle, D’Angelo in Pigeon Pose!

“Just think,” the teacher continued, “now I’m innnnnnnnnnhaling, now I’m exxxxxxxxxxhaling.”

Which is when I noticed that her voice sounded like a kindergarten teacher played by a Disney character. And it started to grate on me.

At the end of class, I didn’t luxuriate in Savasana like I normally do; I popped up quickly, eager to bring this yoga disaster to an end. I’d made it through class, I’d done all the poses (albeit sometimes with a slight time delay) but I hadn’t been present for maybe even 30 seconds of the 60 minutes. I hadn’t by a long shot had the invigorating and nourishing class I’d desired.

In the hallway as I was putting on my shoes, I heard someone say, “Oh, sorry.” I looked up and saw that it was the bratty girl, apologizing for bumping into me as she reached for her shoes, only she actually hadn’t. I smiled at her, and felt like things had come full-circle, that we were cool now. She’d apologized, and I accepted. For something other than the original offense, but still, it seemed significant. And I felt my yoga rage melt away and evaporate.

Walking out onto the street, I didn’t have that post-yogic high that I love, where everything seems to be right in the world. I wasn’t paying attention in class and I just phoned it in. But even so, just going through the motions, by the end of class I wasn’t enraged anymore–at the girl or the different room or the lack of music or the teacher’s voice. I wasn’t high, but I wasn’t low. A class filled with annoyances and disappointments threw me into an internal ranty rage, and then restored me to neutrality. Which, relatively speaking, felt pretty balanced.

Winter sky and tree branchesI went to yoga once last week. I usually go to three classes a week, that’s my goal. And I don’t beat myself up if I fall short of my yoga goal. But I like to make it to that many classes a week because that generally feels manageable with my schedule, and generally makes me feel really good. It gives me energy and calm that helps me navigate the ups and downs of life.

But last week was cold. And dark. And I was tired. So, so tired. On Sundays I go to a really active power Vinyasa class, but given said tiredness, I opted for an evening candle-lit restorative class. And that is progress–to pay attention to how I feel and give into it instead of pushing myself to muscle through. Then Thursday night I was planning to go to yoga but I just needed to go home. Because I had commitments almost every night last week, and sometimes I just need to go home after work and do nothing. Or in this case, laundry. Which wasn’t quite so replenishing but necessary nonetheless.

On Saturdays I go to a morning yoga class in my neighborhood, but I had a hair appointment in the early afternoon and I didn’t have enough time to make it to class beforehand. And I wasn’t planning to go afterwards because I didn’t want to mess up my newly done hair. Then it was snowing anyway, in October, and trying to get around Manhattan in the snow was extra-exhausting so I came home and took a nap, even if that meant messing up my hair.

I want to get back on the wagon and hit my goal this week because not doing enough yoga throws me off. But another thing that’s been throwing me off is the seasons changing in the direction of winter. The cold. The dark. It seemed like everyone I talked to last week was tired and having a hard time adjusting. The cool temperatures can feel brisk and invigorating, and it can be cozy and contemplative to hibernate when it’s chilly outside. But I wasn’t quite there yet last week. Last week I was just tired. When my alarm went off in the morning and it was still pitch black outside, my reaction early in the week was, Really? Already??? and progressed as the days went on to, NOOOOOO!!!!!

I refused to get out of bed when there was not even a sliver of light in the sky yet, and this caused me to leave my apartment 10-20 minutes later than I normally do. Which then brought me smack into the middle of jam-packed-train rush hour commuting time, instead of the easy, utopian commute I usually enjoy where I don’t have to wait long for a subway, the train isn’t full, and I can get a seat. By the time I flew off the packed train at my stop practically gasping for breath, I got to Starbucks later than usual and didn’t have time to write in my journal while I sipped my morning iced tea. And then I didn’t get to work as early as I like to so I can get settled at a leisurely pace and slowly ease into the day. And then I was too tired from all the stress and rushing and waking up in the dark to go to yoga after work.

Every day this past week as I’ve been standing on a crowded subway platform anxiously waiting–and waiting–for the next train, then packed tightly in it when it arrives, I curse myself for hitting the snooze button that extra time or two, and swear that tomorrow will be different! Tomorrow, I shall rise before the sun no matter how tired I am! I will get back on track, and I will not press snooze!

Yoga makes me feel good. Journaling in the morning at Starbucks makes me feel good. Being on my routine makes me feel good. But sometimes, things like the changing seasons interrupt my routine. Historically, I’ve felt totally upended with my schedule goes off-track. But I’m getting better at going with the flow. Paying attention to how I feel and not pushing myself if I’m tired. Skipping yoga if I’m run-down or hitting the snooze button an extra time or two if it’s still freakin’ the dark of night when my alarm goes off! And finding a balance between sticking to my routine, and taking care of myself when seasons change or days grow darker or I just need to slow down and rest.

But I swear, tomorrow I will rise before the sun so I don’t have to have such a crappy commute!