Tuesday, August 2, 2011

'Breathe, Damn it! Breathe!'

We had one of those super busy weekends.  From Friday night to Sunday night, the whole family was non-stop.  In order to find a little peace in my mind, I set out to a Monday evening yoga class.

Now, I've been neglecting my yoga practice for some time and just starting to get back into it, so I am not in my best yoga shape right now.  However, you can't get disciplined unless you suffer through those first few sessions of trying to reclaim your core body strength and balance.

I was actually early to the studio, which is completely out of character for me, but I was so excited to find bliss.  As I was doing some light stretching, SHE walked up.  I have only done this class once before -- last week -- and the previous sub mentioned that the regular instructor was on vacation but should be back today. 

As I stood there, I watched HER open the door.  This was not the regular yoga instructor, but another sub that I knew from before.  My heart sank.  I have never been a big fan and she did not disappoint me.

I like a challenging yoga class.  I don't even mind if the instructor wants to single me out as a special project; and help me pretzel my body into the poses.  I am a runner, so I am not flexible and need all the help I can get.  I leave my ego at the door.  But it is all about being there -- in the studio -- putting the work in and honoring my body.

One look at her and I knew it was not going to be that kind of class.

As we filed in, she said, "This is the fourth class that I have taught today, so I hope you guys are ready. I'm on fire."

Her energy is so NOT zen.  She gives off this angry, red bull-infused, sort of aggressive vibe.

As the class assembled, we all found a home for our mats.  Some people stretched, while others started to work on their breathing, and some just settled into child's pose.  I just sat there waiting for the chaos to begin, and I was not disappointed.

Our substitute yoga instructor folded her mat in thirds and placed a block and these flat disks on the side.  Like elementary school students, she made us all set our props up exactly the same way.  One of the guys said he didn't want the disks and she replied,"You don't want the disks?"  The gentleman said, "No, I don't want the disks;" and she responded again, "You don't want the disks?"  He retorted very forcefully, "No, I don't want the disks."

They finally moved on but, as I chuckled to myself, it made me think of a Saturday Night Live skit.

We started off using the disks for some very unyoga-like ab work but, it was hard and I can feel it today, so I was glad to try something new.

The we switched to our lunar salutations. I am certain it is a yoga term, but they seemed just like sun salutations.  I guess that since we were doing them at 6pm, they were lunar. This wasn't even the most annoying part of the class, what got me is that she walked around ujjayi breathing so deeply and loudly in our faces saying, "Breathe, Breathe, Breathe."

I know that yoga breathing -- also known as Prana meaning life force in Sanskrit -- is very important.  It has many benefits and is a proven stress reliever which helps our bodies. 

But I think we were all sort of shell shocked by her style of teaching that some of us -- and that would include me -- were so distracted that I kept forgetting to breathe.  Finally, she walked up to a woman near me and, practically spitting in her face, she said, "Breathe, damn it! Breathe!"

I was not surprised by her tirade, I have seen this chick in action before and that is just her way.  Is it the wrong way, maybe not; Is the the way I like my yoga to be?  I think not. I was just so glad that I did not suffer her wrath, but I just could not get back to that peaceful place after her outburst.

Not to mention that I seemed to be sweating out a few liters of wine that I had imbibed over the weekend.  I was worried she would get close to me and think I was actually drunk during Yoga Flow Level II.  Who knows what she would have said or done to me.

In the end, I stuck it out with the rest of the class and my body cleansed while I got a decent workout;  Yet my mind never did find Nirvana.  Even the meditation portion at the end -- Savasana or corpse pose -- was filled with her talking or rather admonishing us the entire time.  The good news is that she was only the substitute and the regular instructor will be back soon.

All in all, this scenario reminded me that yoga should be about finding that state of perfect spiritual and tranquil insight. If I was a disciplined yogi, I should have been able to just shut out any distractions by using my breathe to guide me to live in the moment.  Or I could have just hired a hit man.


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