I went through a yoga phase in my twenties. I think most twenty-somethings go through a yoga phase, just like most middle schoolers go through a Stephen King phase and most elementary schoolers go through a peanut butter and jelly phase. I liked yoga okay, but when I moved to China I talked myself out of going to classes because I was afraid my language wasn't good enough to keep up. Yoga took its place on the proverbial back burner for a good four years of my life, replaced by spinning and timing my workouts around Larry King Live.
Tonight I decided that a woman in her thirties does yoga. Real yoga, not the twenty minute DVD kind. So I went to a class offered at my gym called 'Yoga for the Inflexible', which I thought was a nice way of saying, 'Yoga for the Old and in Bad Shape'. I have to admit I walked in there quite confident. Sure, it's been a few years, I thought. I'll still blow these old timers out of the water.
Surprise #1-- the class was mostly dudes. Young dudes, with big muscles. I actually checked the schedule to make sure I was in the right class. I was, but that sinking feeling was beginning in my 'core'.
Surprise #2-- there is some terminology I either missed out on, or never knew existed. 'Dogs' and 'cats' I knew about, but 'locusts'? 'Cows'? When did yoga become such a menagerie?
Surprise #3-- chanting. I was actually thinking my instructor was a little less on the crazy hippie scale as most yoga instructors I've known, until she started with the chanting. Something about peace and love. I wasn't interested in the translation. I was too busy trying to 'keep my hips level with the earth'.
After an hour of blocks, blankets, planks, and something called 'Savasana' (my favorite part), I was legitimately exhausted. Every muscle shook as I got back into my car to drive home. So much for the confidence I'd walked in with. I must have dropped it during my fiftieth downward facing dog.
I still think a woman in her thirties does yoga, but my attitude has adjusted dramatically. What is more logicial: the class is inappropriately named and I really am still good at yoga after a four year hiatus, or the class is appropriately named and I, like the people in the room with me tonight, am back to being a novice? I don't like it, but I think I know the answer.
But what does it matter, really? A woman in her thirties quits keeping score. She unrolls her yoga mat, finds her center, and simply applauds the effort.