People practice yoga for many reasons: to stay in shape, to sweat, to zen out, to avoid cardio altogether, etc. Yoga has a variety of benefits, comes in a variety of forms and is practiced by a variety of different types of people.
Unlike Bar or Flywheel, where classes are filled mostly with like-minded individuals (likely in Lululemon's, likely looking alike and all there for likely the same reason), Yoga classes are filled with people from all walks of life, of all ages, races and religions, all looking to accomplish their own individual goals.
Yoga is rooted in variety. No two classes are alike, different studios have different ambiances, different instructors have different approaches and so on and so forth. Yet, despite these celebrated differences, one thing remains the same: Yoga instructors everywhere say a variety of absurd sh*t and cause a variety of people to think WTF several ways.
I'm not talking about sequencing through sweat and stank in a state of sheer confusion from the sporadic Sanskrit spoken, I am talking about a different vinyasa vernacular altogether. Kf you've taken a yoga class, you have heard at least 1 of the below. Both poetic and metaphorical, the real sh*t only yoga instructors say...
If you've taken a yoga class, you have heard at least one of following statements, both poetic and metaphorical, the real sh*t only yoga instructors say.
"Relax your face muscles, relax your jaw."
My shoulders are back and down, my chin is away from my chest, my face is doing what? This prompt actually quite literally does the exact opposite for me. In attempting to relax my face, I use my face to start looking around the room to see how on earth other people are possibly accomplishing this and with that, I end up tensing my face in order to see how others are relaxing theirs, which brings me then to thoughts, like "why is it so f*cking dark in here?"
In true yoga form, these thoughts then flow freely from my mind onto my face itself (the face that's supposed to be relaxing ), and I think we can all agree that the facial expressions accompanied with confusion are anything but that of relaxed. I am now squinting, breaking my neck on one side, while simultaneously thinking about how I maybe should do Botox now because I read somewhere that the younger you start the better, and wait where did I read that?
Basically, this whole prompt is just absurd to me and honestly I'm still trying to remember where I heard that thing about Botox and at this point I can't even get into the whole relaxing of the jaw part.
"Sip your breath in, and on the exhale, flutter your lips."
Flutter my lips? Like what exactly? Is it like the strawberry thing you do to babies bellies? Or like motorboating a woman's chest? I don't think people actually motorboat women's chests, but still it's the visual I'm getting and honestly what's the deal with the whole flutter your lips bit?
In all fairness, my thoughts on this one aren't always WTF every time. Sometimes, it depends on the day. Sometimes, I just fully get it, and I'm there fluttering away like a butterfly in flight, but other days (most days) I'm like, "F*ck this flutter, I should have done Flywheel."
"Nod your head yes, shake your head no, say hi to your neighbor."
Say hi to my neighbor? You mean the girl next to me who came in five minutes late to class and asked me to scooch over so she can sit next to her friend? Like I am still trying to figure out how to do lion's breath while up against the wall in crouching tiger, hidden dragon thanks to my sh*t neighbor, and now you want me to say hi to her? I'll shake my neck out but I'm not saying hi.
At this point, I start comparing yoga to Scientology in the way that they coerce you into doing things you know are wrong in these very subtle and manipulative ways. It seems like it's all happy-go-lucky hippies stretching, breathing, fluttering, becoming one, but now I'm feeling like it's all lies lies lies. Like, how they are forcing me to make peace with the PR girl next to me (who in my head I have named Dara and her friend Bari ... also in my head I've assigned her the profession of working in PR, but I don't actually know if she works in PR) with a pretend “say hi to your neighbor” prompt.
But that's the thing with Scientology and now yoga, everything gets confusing and the lies keep coming and then you're lying to yourself and making up lies about others and their professions and so on. All of this is too much to handle and to top it all off, it's now impossible for me to stay present and focused, I'm at a point where I can't even stay focused on Dara and Bari and the next thing I know everyone is meeting back up in downward dog and I am in a trance-like state thinking about Tom and Katie and wondering if Suri does Yoga, and honestly where even is Suri? Is she like 45 now? Is Katie still dating Jamie Foxx or is that another lie, and does the instructor really teach a community class on Saturday's in SoHo?
"Root your sitz bones firmly into the ground."
Shockingly I have no sarcasm or cynicism on this one. I honestly have a true appreciation for the clever craftsmanship involved in turning such a crass command into actual poetry. If this requires any translation for anyone, this is just a spin on "sit your ass down." Seriously, poetic and gorgeous. Ugh, I love yoga. It is here, with my sitz bones rooted firmly into the ground, that I remember why I love yoga.
I'm feeling alive and full of life and my endorphins are flowing and I'm high in the moment on a fantasy in which I go to Whole Foods once class ends and draw myself a bath before getting into bed tonight. Why did I stop coming to yoga? People need to start doing yoga more.
"Pretend there is a string at the crown of your head just pulling you a bit higher."
And then it is here that I wake up from this fantasy and realize there is no shot I'm going to Whole Foods or taking a bath tonight. I'm not walking two avenues out of the way to get a $12 piece of salmon the size of my palm, and I'm obviously not taking a bath in my East Village studio sink of a bathtub.
Ugh, now my thoughts are gone, far away from this yoga class and far away from the fantasy of a bath. I am supposed to be growing taller, but instead, I'm growing impatient, and the only fantasy I have at this point is a fantasy where this class ends and the instructor says, "If you rented a mat, don't bother wiping it down; we got it. You go home and feed your cat." But there is no shot she will say that, and there's no string at the crown of my head pulling me higher.
"Pull your navel to your spine."
F*cking sh*t, are you kidding? Like, come on. Is this literal? Are you going to tell me to activate my abdominals next?
"With a nice neutral spine."
Is it cat, is it cow, is it flat back, do I want flatbread for dinner? When they say to do anything with a nice neutral spine, those are my thoughts. Also, the f*ck? Is this Yoga instructor some sort of mind reader? Is this personal to me? Is she like taking a dig at me with the nice neutral thing because she knows my b*tchy aggressive thoughts right now? She was, like, definitely directing the whole "use a block if you need to" thing at me before also. Great now I'm partisan and paranoid. Need to see the therapist this week definitely.
This list could go on forever, but I'll end it here because honestly I do really like yoga and I always feel good after. Yoga — like the gym, like therapy, like sex — is one of those things you dread before, dread during but always feel great once it's done.
So, I will end here with my hands together at my heart's center as I bow in gratitude. Thank you for listening to this rant, I invite you all to share it on social media and also like my selfie that I will be posting on Instagram this Saturday.