On A New Yogic Obsession, and Trying to Accept

Today, for the tenth day in a row, I went to a bikram yoga class: you know, the 90-minute, 26-posture routine that you do in a room heated to 105 degrees. A room that the practice’s founder (Mr. Bikram himself) refers to as his “torture chamber” and that my father refers to as the thing he would rather hang by his toes than enter into voluntarily.

(Me: “I just feel so euphoric afterwards!” My father: “The word, I believe, is delirious.”)

I have hesitated to write about this because, well, normally–stray mention of an O Magazine article I read while pounding on the stairmaster aside–I don’t write about my exercise habits. But also, normally, I hate yoga. And, by extension, the people who preach its’ benefits.

Don’t get me wrong: some of my best friends are dedicated yogis. But, in my (limited) experience, the practice requires twin virtues that I gravely lack: patience and flexibility. (When I tell you that I was afraid to do a summersault as a child, it is not only neuroses of which I speak.)

And yet here I am, smiling all the way down Central Avenue on my way to yoga morning after grueling morning, wondering: if I can do this for my body, why wouldn’t I?

Well, I can think of a couple of reasons. Namely, time and money and the need to prioritize other things like work, writing, and having a dog. You know, life.

But it’s summer, and I’m therefore giving myself permission to temporarily suspend concern for such petty things while I focus on the supremely significant task of bending my spine more backwards.

(You see? I don’t even try to mock and it happens. Years of cynicism do not so easily diminish.)

Really, though, I have to tell you that I feel amazing. And, if you’ll indulge a small amount of benefit-preaching for a moment, I’ll share (part of) why.

You see, besides the perpetual battle against impatience and hamstrings, another thing that has repelled me from yoga is judgment. I’m sorry, but no matter what those hard-bodied blondes in capri leggings recite about Buddha and breathing, usually, I feel very judged. I stare at my soft, straining body in the mirror, and I see those hard, bending bodies that surround me, and I feel the opposite of relaxed.

In Bikram classes, the temptation exists. After all, clothing is minimal. Those fierce yogi forms are there, and they’re even barer than usual.

But for whatever reason–perhaps because beginners practice alongside instructors, and everyone, everyone sometimes gets dizzy and needs to sit down–that judgment seems to go away.

Also, there’s that elderly man who’s in class every morning at 9 am and who all the instructors know by name and who is just standing there, breathing, and then laying there, breathing. Attempting a posture every now and then when the urge or comfort strikes.  And that helps. I won’t lie: that helps.

Most importantly, doing the practice daily has taught me to accept: to accept how far my back will bend or my balance will hold. To accept that, today my knees won’t let me keep this posture, but yesterday they did and probably tomorrow they will again. To accept that, despite over a week of daily practice, I still fall out in the first set of standing bow and, still, my belly is not as flat as that hot girl’s in the back left corner.

It isn’t easy to extend this acceptance outside the yoga room. But one can’t help but try: to accept that, even though it’s no longer cute or novel that my boyfriend lives sixty-three miles away, he still does. And that’s okay. To accept that I’m not getting as much writing or reading done as I imagined, because I never do. And that’s okay, too. To accept that not everyone will ever respond to my work, and that some of those who don’t might leave exceedingly nasty comments on silly, light-hearted blogs of mine on the Huffington Post. And that, also, will have to be okay.

(For the record, I scanned them–these aforementioned nasty comments–and immediately decided not to read any closer. I may need to accept that these people hate me, but I don’t think I need to pay them much mind.)

Are you feeling nauseous yet? I’m starting to, so let’s stop. But thanks for indulging me. You may, or may not, accept my recommendations.

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11 Comments

Filed under Womanhood

11 responses to “On A New Yogic Obsession, and Trying to Accept

  1. ep

    Not nauseated yet. But really, really wishing I’d gone to yoga this am.

  2. Haha. You should come with me tomorrow!

  3. Anthony

    It’s a sad commentary on our society that merely having the ability to string together 500 words of maundering, inconsequential prose can get you much undeserved recognition.

    I read your blog post on the Huffington Post, and I made myself believe that your pointless LeBron James rant was merely a apparition. After all, if you’re a featured blogger on Huffington Post, surely you can’t be that bad. My curiosity got the best of me.

    Your personal blog is much worse. It’s like being strapped to a chair and having to hear the private conversation of two pampered teens; a step-by-step accounting of the daily experiences of someone with no experience, to her shallow equal. Filling the air, squawking about shit nobody cares anything about, for no other reason than to hear the sound of their own grating voices.

    You can do better, I’m sure.

    • Haterofhaters

      “Filling the air, squawking about shit nobody cares anything about, for no other reason than to hear the sound of their own grating voices.”

      Funny, I thought the very same thing about your comment.

  4. Jenny Krause-Gay

    Good for you, Liz! I love hot yoga. Are you going to Hot Yoga downtown? I don’t think there are any other hot yoga places on Central. If so, I think they follow the Barkan Method. I wonder what the difference is? And if you ever need a self esteem boost, I’ll take a class with you. My hamstrings are horribly tight. 🙂

    • Haha, yes, I am going to that place. Join me anytime! I expect to be able to straighten my legs fully in all those poses sometime around 2030…

  5. Mike

    It’s been said that men cannot hang in a hot yoga class. I tried once and couldn’t agree more with the yogi women. As a guy, even they make me feel bad about myself.

  6. Awww, don’t let those ladies get you down! And I have to disagree: D came to a class with me this weekend and was able to “hang” pretty darn well 🙂

  7. (Regarding your negative responses)

    If you yell in the public square, and only a handful of people respond – mostly negatively­, you’re either not yelling loud enough, or what you’re yelling is nonsense. Either get thicker skin, yell something people like, or stop yelling. What you can’t do though, is whine.

    Nobody hates you. Get over yourself, you’re not that important. People only know you by what you’ve chosen to yell in that public square. And yeah, what you’re yelling is nauseatingly uninteresting. I know it, but most importantly, you know it. Do better.

    You’re welcome.

    • Dan

      Anthony –
      When I find something that is “nauseatingly uninteresting” (nevermind that this designation doesn’t even make sense, since uninteresting things don’t generally provoke strong reactions), I ignore it. Looks like you either a) do the opposite and waste your own time, or b) can’t be honest with yourself about what you find interesting. Because if this author’s posts were indeed so uninteresting, why would you read more than one of them, leave multiple comments, and urge the author to “do better”? What are you, the world’s worst blog coach?

    • Wow. for someone who doesn’t like Elizabeth’s writing, you certainly spend a lot of time and energy commenting… perhaps it is YOU who should do better. If you don’t like what you’re reading, change the channel.

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