Photo: Marcos Victoria / Business Insider
I guess you can say Kmart got me started with yoga. On one of my many trips to the only place in New York City for discount anything, I stumbled across a cache of yoga mats conveniently located near the super glue that I was originally looking for. Buying a pink yoga mat at Kmart struck me as impulsive and goofy, which is why I did it. It was only $20, but eventually I was hoping it’d draw me back into the exercise that I’d come to fear.
After shoulder and knee surgery with another knee surgery on the way, I was desperate for alternative exercises that didn’t involve pounding my knee against the pavement for an hour and writhing around in pain for two hours afterwards. It was high time for me to abandon my masculine assertions about exercise.
My only yoga experience before last night was two years ago at the famed Yoga For The People, which I was lured into by a friend.
That session was sweat-filled and surprisingly arduous. It was also downright unpleasant at times. I wasn’t enamoured with the musty air quality and roaming odours of hot yoga, nor was I all that fond of the topless and rotund man next to me moaning and groaning, expelling his “toxic energy,” as the instructor said. To me it sounded like a hippopotamus giving birth.
Last night as I prepared to give yoga another shot, I told myself I was ready for whatever. If they asked me to prance around and make hyena noises, I was in for it. If they wanted me to sing Alanis Morissette and pray to the Hindu deity Lululemon, I was prepared to. This was my last chance to make yoga work for me, I told myself.
The class was called “Yoga Basics” at a gym I’d recently joined in Manhattan, but I soon found out that I was about the only beginner there. The first bad omen came when I proudly rolled my neon pink mat out and discovered that the padding was not thick enough. My knee, which I came to yoga to protect, was grinding into the hardwood floor. It was painful as all hell and I tried not to grimace or move to prove to my fellow “yogis” that I was ready to die in that studio if I had to. After about 30 more seconds however, my pride gave way to more excruciating pain, at which point I had no choice but to ditch my mat for the gym’s, which everyone else seemed to be using.
I soon understood why. They were delicately padded and heavenly on my knees. I felt like a fish out of water though. While no one was looking at me and the instructor never called me out or walked by to fix my pose, I looked like an absolutely uncoordinated doofus. I don’t think I executed a single pose correctly. I constantly had to look around and observe what the other yogis – mostly older women, a few middle-aged men, and a few younger women – were doing with the instructions, which all sounded to me like a muddled mix of altruistic maxims and broken Hindi.
By the end of the class though, I started to get the hang of it. After all, it’s pretty hard to mess up Downward Dog or Child’s Pose. The other stuff flew right over my head though. I also enjoyed the “Yogi’s Choice,” a democratic portion of the exercises, which me for was an excuse to abandon the agonizing poses I couldn’t execute and transition into a prostrated, helpless sprawl.
At the end of the hour, I wasn’t so much tired as I was in pain. I felt like I’d been waterboarded by a skinny woman wearing glasses and yoga pants. My hamstrings were raw and every ligament of my knee with a “CL” in it felt like it was about to give out. Maybe that’s the point though. I feel pretty loose this morning.
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