I hate exercise. I hate the gym. I hate team sports. And for a long time, I hated yoga, too.
Before the entire free world boos me off the internet for slandering yoga, allow me to explain. I have no flexibility whatsoever. My hamstrings are so tight that when I bend to touch my toes, I'm still about a foot away. A foot!
I took a yoga class once in college, only to be made an example of by the teacher (who was as amazed by my lack of flexibility as one would be horrified by a circus performer). I cut my losses and never went back.
Since I learned to swim last year and ride a bike the year before, my stiff joints are all I have left in the freaky body department. I thought I had come to a resolved knowledge and acceptance about my physical limitations. At least I can still rock climb, even if the rest of my body is like a clumsy giraffe.
My roommate, Bessie, wouldn't let me off the hook. Have I mentioned she's a professional dancer and has been practicing yoga for 15 years?
Since I alternate Sundays between being lazy and bettering myself, I decided to better myself and join her for a class at Greenhouse Holistic in Williamsburg.
A restorative class was the route we went- it was gentle and "not aggressive," good for a yoga virgin like me. We did gentle stretches like child's pose, cat and cow. There was also a lot of napping. It's strange to me that yoga is aimed to center most people and find inner quiet. For me, my internal voice just gets louder.
While everyone else closed their eyes and lay still, here's what went on in my head:
"Hey! So this is how you have a productive weekend? You're gonna nap all day? Don't forget you still have to grocery shop, pay your bills, clean the house and cook something with that hamburger left in the fridge. And you need to call your mother."
"Try to find the quiet within," the instructor said. "Put a block up against distractions. Find clarity in this moment. Strive to be satisfied with everything right now, just as it is."
"Yeah, quit getting distracted. Listen to the teacher, sucker."
When I thought that yoga's purpose is perfecting the body and deciding who's the most flexible in a class, I realize now that I'm the only one looking around. It's just like when I was in kindergarten and couldn't fall asleep with the rest of the kids during nap time.
I also have a hard time relaxing my shoulders back to open up my chest and solar plexus, which I know is one of the main chakras in the body (though I can't think too hard about chakras or I'm really going to start getting lost).
The challenge is not going to be how far I can stretch, if I do continue to practice yoga. It's going to be finding a quiet place within myself, within Brooklyn, and remembering to keep my heart open.