Yesterday, I took my first Yoga class. Well, second one, if you count the one I attempted around 10 years ago. Oooh, I hated it and nearly walked out. There was something about a room full of lycra-clad women, incense (gag) and complete silence that had me nearly bursting out in uncontrollable laughter- sort of like when you hear really horrible news and instead of weeping, you shriek hysterically, because your feelings are so intense, your brain hasn’t had time to figure out an appropriate outlet for them. It just seemed, so…incongruent or something. The ying/yang of intensity and calm was a bit unnerving, I guess
I tried Pilates last winter and left after two sessions- I just couldn’t make sense of it. It was like the teacher was talking in a different language. I wrote about that experience in a past newsletter (check archives here).
For the past month, I’ve been searching for a specialized Yoga class (no-incense, thank you) that would help strengthen my back and core. I’ve had multiple bone related issues and surgeries (yea, getting old, I know…) and knew I needed to get myself in better shape. Jogging the last 35 years hasn’t helped matters.
Anyway, I found what I was looking for: a Yoga class specializing in back problems. My surgeon had told me to work on “THE CORE”, and this class promised to teach me just that.
I took my first class yesterday. I failed miserably. You can’t flunk a Yoga class, you say. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can. This is what happened.
I entered a room that had the heat turned up to 100 degrees. Ok, I’m exaggerating. But not much. I was thinking- why would a Yoga room be blistering hot when all the students (remember, it’s a bad back class) would most likely be perimenopausal or in the throes of menopause itself? I hoped they’d have a hefty supply of towels for the poor sweating women.
Of course, I forgot to bring my own (spanking new) Yoga mat, so I had to rent one from them for $2. I shuddered to think of what nasty microorganisms might be sitting on that pad and wished I had a bottle of antiseptic spray on me. But hey, who was I to complain?
To get my mind off of Cooties and such, I looked at – no, scrutinized – my classmates, who were already in their first pose. Here, I thought I’d be mixing with men and women around my age, feeling relaxed and relieved that no one would question my grunting and groaning, since we’d all be in the same boat with crappy bones and joints.
There were two other students- each could have passed for a 12 year old, looking so petite and lithe. I stared at their youthful flexible bodies in total disbelief (why the heck were they here?), then looked up at my new instructor, Cassie, who appeared to be all of 14 years. Oh, and more lycra. With my hypersensitivities to certain fabrics and a post middle-aged body, lyrca is on my hit list.
Then the game began, the game I call “Terry can’t follow multi-step directions.” This is what I heard:
“Ladies (ladies? Should have been old lady and children), I want you to sit down, then lay back, lean your butt up against the wall, facing it, as close as you can, and extend your right leg straight up onto the wall while bending your left leg and flexing your toes (right? left? I can’t remember). Now extend your arms straight out with your thumbs up and breath through your nose, forcing your stomach to push out, then exhale through your mouth. Turn your head to the door, paying attention to the x muscles (how am I supposed to know which muscles she’s talking about?) and watch your breathing.” Now…this was only part of what she said- I can’t remember the rest. No way. Trying to take it all in and follow the directions was harder than doing the actual exercise.
I felt like I was back in 1st grade, unable to remember which bathroom at school was the boys and which was the girls, terrified to make the wrong choice, and waiting until a classmate entered so I’d know which one was the girl’s room.
Since I absolutely could not follow all of these steps in Yoga class, I decided to do what I did as a first grader- I watched the other students. Back then, they all seemed to know when it was time to stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance, when to put supplies away, when to start writing, when to get ready to pack up. Me? I was clueless about such things. I always needed to follow the leader.
Back to Yoga class. The two young women hit each pose like Olympian champions. Right on target, while Cassie had to keep private tutoring me, moving my body parts in the right direction, right positions, correcting this and that. But I had my role models to follow, so I was still in the running- I just had to keep watching their moves. Then everything changed: we were instructed to turn on our other sides. Suddenly, I was the leader (not that they needed one) and I lost my visual cues (you know how important that is for people with ADD, right?).
Cassie (or was it Callie?) stepped up to the plate, realizing she had to work harder with me. I hate to admit it, but I was happy to see that she had a little pooch of a tummy. Thank goodness I wasn’t the only one, though I’d hoped my James Taylor sized L tshirt was hiding mine. Now, I could let myself breath normally instead of sucking it in till I was about to faint. The heat didn’t help.
Then my concentration fell off the cliff, because I was wondering about Cassie/Callie. At 14- I mean- 21- she seemed awfully young to have had a baby or two. And how did she cut her bangs so…straight? And wow- was she tall! Taller than me! I came back to earth when the girls changed position while I was still on my back, studying Cassie’s pooch and bangs.
Suddenly, the moves got harder and harder, the steps more complicated: turn this way! Move your arm that way! Point your foot this way! And don’t forget the breathing!
Class ended and I almost felt like apologizing. The two women/children left without a word. I hesitated, knowing I had to say something to the teacher about my complete clumsiness, but chose not to. Instead, I asked her opinion about whether she felt this class would be useful for my orthopedic conditions. But I faltered and asked if she thought I could keep up with the other two kids. Cassie smiled, and said I’d done pretty well(!)…that others my age often can’t even get down onto the floor. MY AGE? Grrr. I wanted to explain how hard it was to follow all the steps. Should I ask for accommodations? Bring a white board so she could write down the steps? Tape record the class and practice at home?
Naaah. I’ll try at least a few more times to see if I can get the hang of it. Maybe.
How about you? Do you have trouble following multiple steps? Did you know that this is most likely due to our problems with executive functioning? With ADD, we all have difficulties in this area, but to different degrees. Though many women with ADD can be gifted dancers, gymnasts, and such, for many others, just following a dance partner’s simple Waltz can be a huge challenge. I know. Because I can’t dance either.
Please share your story by adding your comment below. I’d love to hear- no, I’m begging to hear that I’m not the only one.