Meditate or do yoga at least weekly, if not multiple times during the week, for no less than twenty minutes a session.
»» Glenda Reed

Maybe it’s my general unwillingness to ever change my mind about anything ever, but I really don’t like stories or accounts in which people have the scales lifted from their eyes & realize that their initial judgements about this or that were oh so superficial & wrong. They bring out a side of me which could politely be called “unattractive”. It could also be called “sadistic & similar to the joy my eighteen year old self took in watching Britney Spears go nuts“. So that this would turn into one of ‘those’ sorts of stories sort of makes me squirm. Luckily it’s a story about yoga, so I’m squirming in all sorts of new & exciting positions.

After discussing my failed meditation efforts with a certified yoga instructor at the School of Metaphysics, I decided to take my first yoga class (for free!) at Lululemon on Damen Avenue. Now, though this was my first yoga class & thus what I regard my first real adventure in yoga (a word derived from the Sanskrit yuj, meaning “to control or unite” – thanks, Wikipedia!), this was not my first ever yoga attempt. My first ever attempts at yoga were to a VHS tape my old room mate Sarah introduced me to, entitled Yoga for Abs. Yoga for Abs was set in the middle of a vast desert & narrated by a man who’s gratuitous use of the word ‘groin’ was almost as unnerving as his phenomenal rope of hair, which I imagine he used to hang students not truly in touch with their chakras.

Showing up at Lululemon, I immediately noticed three things:

  1. I had to sign a waiver in case I somehow damaged myself.
  2. The lure of a free yoga class is a powerful thing, because the place was PACKED.
  3. Not a single person had helped themselves to the free granola bars. Fools.

After conceding that I would not hold Lululemon accountable for my severed hamstrings, I helped myself to a mat & took a spot in front of a wall of men’s boxer briefs. I scoured the group to figure out which was one the instructor, but there was nary a braid-sporting-guru to be found – only lots of obscenely pregnant women ready to pop. This wasn’t a problem for anyone else, only myself, who thinks of this every time she sees a overly fertile womb. Just a little after 10am, someone locked the front door & our instructor, Ryan Maher of Soulistic Studio, began the class.

Ryan explained that the particular style of yoga we would be engaging in was known as Vinyasa, a method which emphasises flow & generates heat within the body. “Heat”, I came to understand, is a ginger way of saying “Your ass is gonna sweat, especially when your ass is squattin in some invisible yoga chair”.

We started in ‘child’s pose’, in which we were all to check in with our minds & bodies, just getting centered & started. I liked this pose the best because it was a lot like stretching & sleeping at the same time, & I can totally get behind that. From here things started moving pretty quickly, & it was easy to see what my instructor meant by words like flow & heat: the poses streamlined into one another nicely, generating no small amount of bodily warmth as I pushed myself to hold my right leg at an angle I have never known it to enter into before. With my forehead pressed against my knees, I tried to see how some people make a habit of this sort of activity – an epiphany which I was unable to reach due to my neighbor, a man who had mistaken “yoga” for “Lamaze”. We did a lot of a pose called “downward dog”, which entailed a lot of, well, face-down-ass-up, & did a lot more to amuse me than it did to limber my body. A few quick poses later & the whole class was half squatting, half standing, seated in an invisible chair with their arms raised towards the ceiling. This was especially awesome given the Sunday morning brunch crowd who, of course, whet their appetites by watching us through Lululemon’s large storefront windows. HEY. BRUNCHERS. DIDN’T ANYONE EVER TELL YOU NOT TO STARE? HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR HOLLANDAISE SAUCE WHILE I SPEND MY MORNING FLEXING MY ASS.

The class was only an hour long, & I spent most of it watching people, trying to follow what they were doing & keep a wary eye on the many bulging bellies around me. With about five minute left before the end of class, Ryan instructed everyone to lie flat on their backs, close their eyes & concentrate on their breathing. Surrounded by expectant mothers, heavy breathers & really expensive sports bras, I settled myself onto the ground…& relaxed. My breathing became steady & though my eyes were closed & it was only 11am on a Sunday morning, I didn’t feel tired or antsy at all – rather, I felt this weird desire to be really healthy, to go home & make tea & get a lot of work done. As class wrapped up, I went & introduced myself to Ryan, thanking him for his instruction & explaining the difficulties I’d been having in meditation. He invited me to come to his Thursday night class at Soulistic & I promised I would.

Walking down the block back to my apartment with more granola bars than I probably should have taken, I thought about how I’d always written yoga off as something done by people who liked Sting’s last album or talk about their cleansing juice fasts. Maybe I’m generalizing, but I decided that I’d jumped the gun too soon, that maybe there was a reason people have been practicing yoga for thousands of years (& if Lululemon was any indication, spending thousands of dollars on yoga pants). I would definitely be back.