First, I have to get myself out the door. Take stock of all my aches and pains, fears and misgivings and decide if today is a good day for yoga. A good day for 90 minutes of minor pains and difficult contortions, cramping and effort.
It isn’t, but I go anyway.
There’s my funky knee and that weird pain on the bottom of my foot. The recurring lower back thing and that cut on my finger. Maybe my vision is wonky or I’m just tired. I might have gas or just too many groceries in my gut. I probably need a shower, but why do that before yoga?
Then, it’s the whole thing with the yoga clothes. My yoga outfits are not cute, like some, and probably haven’t been laundered recently. They usually don’t make me feel athletic or limber or particularly beautiful — more pinched and puffy, like a sausage.
So, there’s a lot of self-talk just getting myself to class — “on my mat,” as they say. “Congratulate yourself for making it to your mat today.” They love to say stuff like that and it speaks directly to me because I need a goddamned standing ovation for this shit, some days.
I make it, usually, to my mat — albeit with a crummy attitude and some trepidation, but there I am. I’m the kid in the back — “Do we really have to do any work today?” The teachers love me.
I thoroughly enjoy the pre-class chatter, unless I’m in one of those deer-in-the-headlights moods. That happens. Usually, though, I’m happy to compare notes with the other yoga ladies (it’s almost always just ladies in my class, thank god). We talk kids and cocktails (everyone wants one), jobs and money (everyone wants more), weather and driving (no one wants to). And yoga pain, always yoga whining. There’s the odd eager beaver, but most of us start class with mild complaint.
“You’re hurting my feelings,” someone says to the teacher when she tells us to pipe down and start class.
Can we talk about the core? I get it, the core supports the spine, allows for balance and stability. My yoga teacher (and I love her, really I do) almost invariably starts class with the core. “On your backs!” We know what follows, so more whining ensues.
I hate the fucking core.
Probably everyone’s class is not like this. Maybe yours is full of young, fit, eager athletes who love the core — cute yoga outfits wrapped around lithe, positive people.
This is my class.
After the misery of the core, we flow. I take vinyasa, which is a flowing style — almost continuous movement, like a dance, that follows the breath. My teacher sets the whole affair to music, which allows me to get out of my own little monkey mind a bit. Forget about the outfit and the pain, fear and cocktails for a while. Usually.
Sometimes it all kind of sucks, from start to finish. The knee hurts, there’s no balance, the mind chatters manically, I forget to breathe. Some days, I drag myself across the finish line dizzy and sore and wonder who exactly I think I am, at this advanced age, doing these odd strenuous things.
But some days — most days, actually, or I probably wouldn’t go back — there’s a moment. Some days it is just a moment — one precious moment. But some days it lasts, sometimes throughout the entire class (which is glorious and not to be forgotten). It is a moment when things click. The breath, the body, the mind, the music, the group — it clicks and soars. It’s an odd divine synergy of the body and mind that makes me feel strong and flexible, clear and grounded.
Okay, I know that sounds like yoga teacher bullshit and it kind of is. But it really happens. Like I said, sometimes fleeting, sometimes a 90-minute glow that I carry home with me. It’s like a thread of light and strength running from my feet to the crown of my head and I feel like everything will be okay. Trite, I know, but it’s the best way I can put it.
Everything will be okay.
Of course, I still have to face reality. I have to go home, I have to make dinner, I have to talk to people. My knee will hurt, and my foot, I may have a cocktail and regret it. There will be indigestion and the clothes are still not right. I am still me, after all.
But the memory of that moment — that crystalline bead of time when everything worked, when the scattered pieces of me were somehow woven into a unified column of elemental me-ness that felt pure and good and strong — that’s the thing that will push my lazy, sorry ass out the door in a few days for the next class.
I know. Yoga teacher bullshit.
But it’s true.