Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Shavasana

I assume that one reason you see so many more women than men in yoga classes is because men see the practice as insufficiently macho - just silly breathing and sitting with your legs crossed, etc.

Well yoga is hard. And not just because they make you do the plank position often.

However there is rarely pressure from yoga instructors to get students into uncomfortable postures. At most they will occasionally walk around the room giving tips on positioning. The only time I've ever seen anything else is when I took an "Open Level" yoga class at the yoga studio about fifty steps from my apartment. Open Level means any level, but the instructor, the guy who owns the studio, seemed displeased with my Level One  presence in the class and warned me it was "Open Level" which apparently in his mind meant hardest level.

But I thought I was holding my own throughout the class. Obviously not as good as many of the people taking the class with years of yoga practice but still. I don't know why my inability to assume some of the harder poses fully should have bothered anybody. 

So about three-quarters of the way through the class, I'm standing in a pose that requires an upper torso twist and I wasn't twisted fully enough for this guy and so he grabbed me and forced my body into the position.

And it felt like he crushed my lungs. I should have left the class right then but I was too stunned and out of breath to make an executive decision and so I hobbled along for the rest of the class and by the time he had everybody doing handstands I just sat there and watched, still stunned and worried about my vital organs.

Of course I never took a class with that creep again. And I decided to stick to Level One from henceforth no matter how inconvenient the times they offer for that level. 

I know I'm getting better at yoga  though because I'm better at Shavasana. Since yoga is hard, by the end of a one-hour session it's very likely you'll be worn out and dripping with sweat. So the final pose at the end of a yoga session is Shavasana: "a pose usually done at the end of a yoga practice in which practitioners lay flat on their backs with the heels spread as wide as the yoga mat and the arms at the sides of the body, palms facing upward."

Also known as "corpse pose" - you just lie there flat on your back.

And I used to have a horrible time with it because of the curvature of my back. I could not comfortably lie on my back with my legs fully against the ground. And now after two years of yoga practice I can get into shavasana right away without any discomfort. Victory!

I've been doing yoga for two years now. Admittedly I haven't done it regularly until the last three months and even now I still don't always make it to yoga class regularly twice a week. But getting old is no time to wuss out of body-strengthening methods. If anything one needs to do yoga more often as one gets older, like this 98 year old yoga teacher. Wow.


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