Ask anyone. Particularly my ten followers and closest friends (and Mom). I'm a firm believer in and advocate of 'health and wellness'. I drink green tea everyday. I take probiotics and digestive enzymes. I keep my stress levels low and my time for relaxation...ample. I go for the occasional massage. There was a period (2.5 years) when I went to see my acupuncturist twice a week and began to refer to him as my surrogate Chinese father. Yes, health and wellness is something I pride myself on.
Ask anyone on the planet and they will tell you that yoga practice is part and parcel of health and wellness. So it seems only natural that this is a world I would explore, and have (somewhat) for the past few years.
1. From 2005-2006 I went to pilates religiously. Everyone knows that pliates is just like yoga, only harder.
2. In 2009 I paid my naturopath to develop a personalized yoga routine for me. We did it together once, she and I. It included chanting and song. I think my voice sounded okay. (She was a little pitchy.)
3. I own a yoga mat.
4. Sometimes I roll out said yoga mat on my apartment floor, put on my yoga playlist (with songs like "Angels Flight" and "The Beauty Within") and breathe deeply for a while. Stretch out my hips. Wiggle my feet in the air. Relish in cat pose. Child's pose. Couple of downward dogs. You know, just practicin' yoga no big deal.
5. I appreciate eastern philosophies.
6. I read Eat, Pray, Love and added 'sanskrit' to my vocabulary. (Not the language, just the word - 'sanskrit').
So it seemed only natural that I would seek out yoga class once I felt settled in my new city.
My yoga journey started through working on campus at U of T. Human Resources sent an e-mail around advertising 'lunch time' yoga. I signed up right away.
"Oh sorry, I can't make that meeting - I have lunch time yoga on Wednesdays, you know no big deal."
Our classes were taught by an amazing woman in her fifties...or sixities...or seventies...you can never really tell with these free-spirited types (I hope people say that about me one day). She had awesome hair that stuck up in every direction. She wore flowy pants and an anklet. She had a soooooothing voice.
There were three...max five...people in the class. I was the youngest by twenty five years. I was the star.
Free-spirited yoga lady had a distinct philosophy to her teaching. It went something like this. Do whatever feels good. That's right. Whatever feels good, your body likes. So do it.
We came to our own poses naturally, with little guidance. It was the Montessori school of yoga class. We were always right, and doing great, as long as we listened to our bodies.
I loved that woman. Saw her in my neighbourhood once. (Saying hello would have been too much of a collision of worlds.)
Anyway, somewhere in between work and yoga, my passion, I bought a deal for 10 classes of hot yoga. It was only a 7 minute walk from my apartment. I could start when I was off work. (It's on my summer to-do list.)
That was today. Day 2 of revising (re-writing) my book. I would need to run out and buy one of those straps or tiny backpack apparatuses for transporting my mat (all the yoga aficionados have one on my block). I would give the guidelines a quick check, as they recommended. And at 5:30 pm I would reach new heights in my journey to health and wellness.
A 'quick check of the guidelines' threw me a bit of a curveball. The website recommended wearing as little as possible. Like a bathing suit. Or, if it would make you more comfortable, shorts and a sports bra.
I don't wear shorts. I don't own shorts. Correction - I only own pajama shorts. Blue and white ones from Joe Fresh. But, after entertaining the idea of wearing a black and gold floral string bikini for half a second, the PJ shorts would have to do. There's GUARANTEED to be an out-of-shape weirdo or two in this class that would make me look good in comparison, thought I. So whatever. Outfit - check.
The hot part of "hot yoga" I didn't think mattered too much. I'm from Thunder Bay. I sauna at friends' cottages in the summertime. Two of my closest friends are Finnish. Kiitos.
First, let me describe to you the class make-up, or demographics if you will. I fear that it fits all urban hot yoga classes, and if you've done it before, maybe you can relate.
|One of the girls from class doing the "Eagle".|
2. Alarmingly flexible and absurdly strong hairy Argentinian man wearing a gold necklace.
3. 55 year old tiny Chinese lady with an elastic body. Who did not break a sweat, by the way, despite the 105 F room.
4. Fifteen former female dancers, either tanned, or ethnic.
5. Ex-Cheerleader yoga instructor.
Halfway through the class I realized that I must be the only person of Irish heritage. How do I know this for a fact? Because I am the only one whose pasty white face and head turns beat red 7 minutes in. And then proceeds to deepen in colour for the next hour and a half. (It looked great juxtaposed against the glaring white of my sheath dress tan lines*.)
And so the brutal pain and discomfort and humiliation began. Worsened only by the creepy way the class exhaled their 'stale air' through wide, gaping mouths. (Did they not see The Ring?) Worsened only by ex-cheerleader singling me out to correct me on every move. Most maddeningly:
"Brianne it's right leg over left, not left over right." (How did she learn my name so fast?)
LADY. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE. WE'RE GOING TO SWITCH.
(Oh yeah, and I'm a little busy down here trying not to pass out and drown in a pool of my own sweat. So maybe give me a break. Okay? Christ.)
What happened to 'do what the body likes'? What happened to my free-spirited yoga lady who spent 30% of the class explaining the importance of visualizing roots growing from the parts of your body touching the floor? What happened to my class full of middle-aged public sector workers, who more often than not came to class still dressed in business casual?
Did I mention that there are only 3 showers in the women's changeroom and they are open?
Yup, I got fully naked in public for the first time. MMMMHHHMMMM. I had no choice. I was dying.
Yoga Aficionadon't know what I've done. But there are 9 classes to go.
What's that you say? You're actually going back?
Well of course I am. I paid for 10 friggin' classes and I intend to attend ten. Did you miss the part about me being Irish?
PS Comments are still broken for some. But am transferring this over to brisnonblog.com soon. So sit tight, St. Martin's Press. We'll connect soon about my book.
*Note to self: You're a long way from evening that out. Consider tanning naked on your balcony tomorrow.