Thursday, February 5, 2009

First Day of Class Part II

If you read the last post, you should have noted the Thursday entry – yoga.

When it comes to yoga, I’m back in first grade, and it’s a language foreign. At least the body part terms are familiar.

There are several branches of yoga: Raja, Karma, Jnana, Bhakti, Hatha, and Yoda. Okay I made up that last one. But the Yoda’s moves in Star Wars’ movies must have been some very advanced yoga. Then there are beginning, intermediate and advanced stages. I have no idea what branch my LA Fitness branch subscribes to or what stage. Regardless, beginners walk in and crawl out.

I have now discovered another form of exercise besides marathons that our bodies are not made for – yoga.

You don’t need much to take a yoga class, other than loose-fitting clothes and a personal mat. You wouldn’t want to take a culture of fitness gym mats. It helps if you have been doing some kind of exercise other than lifting a fork to feed your face.

Yoga is becoming pretty popular in the United States, but the Vatican does not approve, declaring in 1989 that Eastern practices such as Zen and yoga can “degenerate into a cult of the body.” Clearly my body can degenerate, but become cultist? Given the looks of us lately, we could use some more time cultivating our bodies.

Some of the yoga positions are pretty simple, thankfully. My favorite is the Corpse Pose. You assume the position of a corpse, though still breathing through your nose - thankfully. The Plank Pose looks like a push-up but you have to remain pushed up 10 minutes. Maybe it just seems that way. Breathe through your nose. The Child’s Pose looks like a Muslim’s afternoon prayers, except that you have to remain prayerful for some time with your butt touching your heels. The Standing Forward Bend is bending over and placing your palms on the floor, without bending the knees. Breathe through your nose. And hell no, I couldn’t do that (the palming the floor part), though I came a lot closer by the end of class. The Cobbler’s Pose is sitting with your knees flung wide apart and the bottoms of your feet becoming very friendly. The Mountain Pose is simple, standing erect, arms to the sides.

If these were the only poses, yoga would be my new best friend.

Not so fast. There’s Plow Pose, Bridge Pose, Tree Pose, King Dancer Pose, Lotus Pose, Supine Spinal Twist, and something that looks like an upside down victory sign. For the Tree Pose you stand on one leg with hands pressed together and bring your other foot up until the sole is flat against the inner standing thigh. At least it wasn’t the outer thigh. Breathe through your nose.

For the King Dancer Pose stand again on one leg (right), bend forward at the waist and thrust your right arm straight out. With your left arm grab your left foot and pull it up past your ear. Not really, but you get the idea. Change legs, rinse, repeat. Breathe through your nose.

For the Bridge Pose, start on your Corpse Pose (good so far) and bring the knees and lower legs vertical to the floor, feet flat. Then raise your torso until your back is inverted, shoulders and head flat on the floor. I think this is called getting your back up. Breathe through your nose.

One pose reminded me of the splits cheerleaders did in high school to gain our vote for head cheerleader. I didn’t try it then, either.

There is another pose where you are prone and then you make your body simulate the legs of a rocking chair. Guys need more than a jockstrap for this position.

Fortunately we weren’t asked to do the Lotus Pose. It begins as a Cobbler’s Pose but then you entangle your legs, positioning each foot on top of the opposite thigh. You will first need surgery.

All in all, I did pretty well. I only had to ask the instructor four times to pop back in a dislocated shoulder or hip.

This is a popular class, thirty in all. I was the only male. I am so there. No, I didn’t strain my eyes staring. My eye ogling was watching the instructor out of the corners of my eyes so as not to embarrass myself and end up with my right foot behind my left ear. I think that move is in the advanced class.


Breathe through your nose.


The Mom said...

I love your writing style! I also enjoy yoga, but haven't been to a class - or done it on my own - in a year or more. One of these days, maybe I'll get back to it. I know my body would thank me!

Oh - my blogger name is The Mom, as I imagine my own kids are the only ones who read my blog. I very rarely get around to writing in it, either.

Kelly Piepmeier

zenyoga said...

You might want to check out Zen Yoga. It is a blend of Tai Chi and yoga that doesn't stress the body so much, but really gets the energy flowing