Thursday, June 21, 2012

Flipping My Dog

Remember when I said I was going to get healthy? And that I was going to start doing things that were good for me? Yeah. Well, now I've been going to hot yoga for a week, which is a major accomplishment for someone like me.

Two doctors told me I really needed to be doing yoga and that it would really help me with joint health, overall well being blah blah blah. I think that was like four years ago. I stalled. I hate yoga. I had fantasies about prenatal yoga, but a whole nine months of procrastination followed and I never did end up doing it. Right after the baby was born, my husband started going to yoga a lot and he lost something like thirty pounds and he started really being much more tolerable to be around. My husband is extremely Type A and possesses an energy I often describe as frenetic. He is always in motion and never calm. Yoga seemed to slow him down a lot, in a good way and the change was obvious and dramatic.

I am the sort of person who likes the aesthetics of yoga - the clothes, music, incense, all that, but I hate actually doing anything physical and difficult. My idea of heaven will be a huge feathery bed full of books and someone delivering me tea and scones with strawberry jam at regular intervals. I am an inherently lazy person.

I've never been athletic. It simply isn't part of my makeup. When I was little they almost put me in special ed classes due to my utter refusal to skip and throw balls and I was always the only girl who couldn't do a cartwheel. In gym class I was the proverbial picked last and my report cards always complained that I "didn't participate." Why should I? I thought the games we played were barbaric and I was petrified of getting hit in the face with a dodgeball. I even got suspended in high school for cutting gym and there was a girl in my class who had an enlarged spleen and got to go to study hall instead of PE. I prayed for an enlarged spleen.

So I don't like moving. We've established that.

I'm also a wuss when it comes to pain and not just pain but even mild physical discomfort and I suffer from a common millennial affliction. I like instant gratification now. Delaying immediate gratification or pleasure in order to reach a future goal or benefit has been proven to lead to greater success in life and I am well aware of that fact, but it's very hard for me to do. If something hurts, even if the pain will be good for me, I am more apt to say "screw this" and look for something that feels good to me in the moment.

Another personality flaw I have is that I avoid doing things I'm not good at. If I try something and don't take to it immediately I quit and move on. I've done this my whole life. I'm not into practice. I have a few things I have natural affinities for, so I just stick with them and it has, to some extent, worked for me, but to another extent it hasn't because I don't ever challenge myself. Some people say, like in job interviews, that they love a challenge. Fuck a challenge. I'm a people person. Or something. 

So combine all these flaws and one can see how hot yoga and me aren't exactly a good match. But I have to go. I have to get through this.

My sister goes to hot yoga every single day, sometimes twice, which is pure madness. She is going for fitness reasons. She has run a marathon after all. I can't even run one single block. She doesn't enjoy the spiritual part of the practice, as they call it, and wants no part of meditation or intention setting. I, however, eat that up. I love that part best. I could sit around and meditate for years, because it involves being quiet and doing nothing.

But it's not just that. I believe human beings are threefold: mind, body and spirit and that to be healthy, all three parts must be balanced. I've spent too much time in the mind, barely any time in the spirit and no time on my body, so I'm all out of whack. I don't know why I have lupus, but maybe that's why, and I don't want to die young and leave my child alone. I can't bear that thought and that's why I'm doing all I can to be as healthy as I can. Yoga can help me.

Except it's so hard and I'm not good at it, which makes me want to cry because I am the very worst student in the whole class. The worst. I've never been the worst in a class, even in math, and yoga is to my body what college algebra was to my intellect. I am so ashamed at being not good and at how pathetically weak my body is, but I know that this is something I need to get over. I feel like to be healthy I can't keep avoiding things I'm not good at. I can't always need to be the best one. I have to learn to live with being imperfect. It's so hard. And I have to learn to practice in order to get better.

I think that yoga is going to help me heal my body and my personality flaws if I can stick with it.

But lest you think I'm going all serious on you all, yoga is freaking hilarious at the same time. The people watching is as good as a trip to Whole Foods, if not better.

The place I go is huge and there are usually at least thirty people in a class and there are all types.

First we have a man I've come to call Old Gay Sean Connery, which should need no further explanation. He puts his mat right in front of mine and he wears nothing but a skimpy black speedo and a shark's tooth necklace on a leather string and he has the biggest set of balls I have ever seen. When I move my "eye gaze forward" all I can see is his enormous ball sack in my face. God bless him.

As this is South Florida we also have a woman whose fake boobs are so huge on such a tiny body that I can't comprehend how she doesn't tip over. She's close to 70. I fear the heat will melt her silicone and at the end of class there will be nothing but a puddle of melted chemicals and some frizzy hair left on her mat. And I'm not exaggerating. These boobs are at least the size of watermelons each. They are a sideshow and since she's old, they've dragged down past her bellybutton. I think when she takes off her sports bra they probably fall even further and cover her crotch. Picture bowling balls in a tube sock.

We have a large number of skinny, rich housewives too. I kind of hate them. Partly because I am jealous and partly because they are a pack of overachieving, side-crowing bitches who can casually do handstands in a hundred degrees while chatting about expensive preschools and not sweating. They all wear as little clothing as possible - another motivator for me. I want to wear as little clothing as possible too because it's so damned hot in there, but there's no way I'm ready for their teeny yoga bikinis yet. I've been wearing these awful bike short things and tank tops that cover up a lot because I'm trying to avoid the pose known as Toeing Camel.

Then there are the single twenty-something girls who are just as skinny as the housewives, but even prettier and I hate them too. They do inversions and are limber as Twizzlers and they vocal fry about their upcoming weddings that they are doing yoga for so they can fit in size zero wedding gowns. Ah, to be young and hopeful like that again.

I've set my intentions and they are to just keep going at least three times a week for now, and just keep on keeping on with it, trying my best and being ok with not being a yoga prodigy. (I'm still paddle boarding too by the way, but haven't done it since my trip due to rough surf.)

Getting healthy is hard.


Christian Marie said...

Good going! At least you are trying yoga and are paddle boarding. That's more than most people too do!

I am actually signing up for yoga today and I have never been athletic either. I was the girl who used to run away from the ball in gym class....

jmm said...

Hi WL,

Don't give up on the yoga, I think you'll start to like it. You will definitely improve. I still cannot do headstands & handstands, but doing the basics is so good for you, it really doesn't matter. Also, maybe don't go to hot yoga, maybe regular yoga may be more tolerable. I sweat enough in a regular yoga class.

Anonymous said...

I hate the part of yoga that is aligning your chakras and ohm-ing crap. Also that it is hot regardless of it being hot yoga or regular yoga. (Since I don't really sweat, I'm always in danger of overheating. My face turns red and swells and stays that way for days. Not a good look for me.) Ideally, yoga should be done in an autumn-chilly temperature setting.

I wish there was an affordable place near me that would offer deep water aerobics and ice-cold yoga.


Anonymous said...

I, too, can get easily discouraged if I feel like I'm not succeeding at something. I quit bellydance because I felt like I wasn't good enough.

I'm really into fitness, though. And eating clean.

This is Suzanne H, btw. I really like your entries. The writing is wonderful.

Dawn said...

I think you should stick with this class for no other reason than that your classmates are a treasure trove of good writing material. We need you to infiltrate their inner circle and report back. You can do this!

Kirby said...

Why hot yoga instead of regular? I haven't done yoga but I imagine HOT would be the worst.

Headant said...

I was much like that in school. I was so fortunate that, in senior year, our PE coach would put the timer on for like 15 minutes for us to walk around the gym. That was it for class. Then we would sit around and talk about movies

Green said...

I went through a yoga phase and blogged about it.

Please note that there is good pain "Holy crap, my hamstrings are loosening!' and bad pain "Oh my god, I think I just broke my arm" and if you train your brain to get excited at good pain, that will help.

Keep at the yogging. It's supposed to be non-competitive. Fuck that though. Eventually you'll realize people are watching you because you know what you're doing and look decent doing it, and that's when you'll know you've won.

Gwyne said...

At least you are trying. I use to do yoga at a local place where I was friends with the owner/instructor. I liked it, but I never liked yoga enough to practice it on my own. Then I did the P90X yoga video and I think it made it me really hate it. I've thought about doing it at my gym, but most of the classes are pilates/yoga combo classes. I feel about pilates the way you feel about yoga.

Anonymous said...

hot yoga is hardddd...there are easier and slower forms of yoga that have similar effects--more flexibility, freedom of movement. Worth looking into!

Maria Sarkissian said...

Your post about hot yoga came just in time! I'm in pain. Major neck and shoulder pain caused by sitting in front of a computer and crunching numbers all day. So on my drive to work this morning I was trying to convince myself that I need to start going to hot yoga again. I've gone before and I can't say I liked it or disliked it. I did it because my body needed it. On my third time at hot yoga... I almost passed out! The heat got to me! I'm a San Fernando Valley girl born and raised. Not even Vegas in the middle of July gets to me. The fact that I wanted to throw up, cry and pass out simultaneously scared me away from hot yoga. So I stopped going.
Now my neck hurts, my shoulders are stiff, and I have a "tight hip" according to my pilates instructor, bootcamp instructor, chiropractor and masseuse. I physically feel like a mess! However, your post has inspired me to try going again. I'll keep you updated.

By the way, you did such a freakin' fantastic job describing the type of people in your class. I see the exact same type of people here in Los Angeles.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why it has to be hot yoga. Especially in Florida. We don't need to get that hot. I practice anasura yoga in regular temperature and like it. I have lost 20 pounds and feel great. I sweat a lot and the ac is on!

Deneen said...

Keep at it! I am almost as flexible as a fencepost and have been doing yoga for 9 years. One day several years ago when my type-A tendencies were getting the better of me and I was lamenting the fact I still basically sucked at yoga, my instructor reminded me that my flexibility and range of motion *have* gotten better and ended it with, "Did you ever notice there's no such thing as a yoga competition?" (Only in my head, I guess.) But I did lose about 25 pounds so that right there was worth it. Like JG, I don't care about chakras and stuff. But positive results? I'm there.

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