Just kidding, I do. But I understand why all the yoga skeptics are skeptic of yoga, and here’s why: I was born in Connecticut, the richest state in the richest country, and I was born poor, so naturally, I was born a skeptic. (Still am.)
Yoga is all about yoga pants and sex poses and fancy tank tops. Downward dog, child’s pose, frog pose, plough pose, happy baby. C’MON, yoga, get REAL. I need real solutions to real problems, like that I don’t have time to exercise, eat balanced meals, and I can’t figure out why I keep getting headaches while writing my erratic, long winded, free form blog. Besides, my sex life is sexy already, slut.
I started yoga almost 10 years ago. Since then, my yoga “practice” (though I’d like to think I’m winning) has been on and off, (and mostly at home). I owe my decade long practice to this shitty telemarketing job I got on my first-ever job search phone call after moving to Florida on a train a week after I turned 18. I left my POS car in my mother’s driveway in Virginia, because I didn’t trust it would make it the thousand miles to Florida. (Though it did a few months later, barely.)
The job, in which my role was to read the same 2-page script to every caller that responded to a pop-up ad on their computer stating they won a free vacation, was located 2 blocks away, on the second floor of Bally’s Total Fitness. At the end of the script, I asked the caller for 500 dollars, and 95% of them said “no way” until I handed the phone off to my “manager”, who reeked of cigarettes, and gave them one or two more free vacations, which got 75% or so to say “what the hell, okay!” At the end of my shift, I felt somewhat bad for shafting the caller, so instead of taking a left out the door, I went right into the gym to sweat my sins away. I’m so good.
These are the days I decided to try yoga, even though I didn’t believe in it. I found it was much easier for me to complete a (free) class at the gym, than to complete the circuit of training my personal trainer gave me on my first (free) evaluation, all by my lonesome. I guess you could say I’m not very self-motivated (though I’ve written that on plenty of resumes). I took kickboxing, hip hop, power training, zumba, belly dancing, even a water aerobics class that I thought would be fun and challenging until I was bikini-clad in the shallow-end surrounded by over-or-underweighted men and women between the ages of 53 and 107 for an hour. ONE hour: I never went back. I mean, what self-respecting 18-year-old girl that is not a lifeguard or competitive swimmer owns a one piece bathing suit anyway?
So there’s something else very notable happening at this point in my lifespan. I’m getting the hives, everyday, and I have no idea why. 8 months, ev-er-y day. During the 8 months, I changed my soap, detergent, shampoo, conditioner, my eating habits, and even my physical location, 3 times. Still got the hives everyday. I was poppin generic benedril like the wiggers in Connecticut popped oxycontin. 5 times per day, no big deal, it doesn’t even make me sleepy at this point.
I returned to Virginia for a friend’s wedding a few months after moving south, which occurred on April 20th, (no reason). While visiting, I fixed up my car and drove it “home”, to Orlando, Florida, where I lived with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
I stayed a night in Wilmington, NC to visit a high school friend, and upon leaving and stopping for gas, my car wouldn’t start. After fixing it (only $250 later!), and amidst the drive through increasingly warmer weather to the promised palm tree land, I noticed something capable of ensuring panic!: I forgot the bag containing my benedril supply in North Cackalacki.
Instead of panic, (or buying more) I tried something I learned in yoga: breathing. More notably, I imagined, as my quirky, hippy, non-yoga-bodied, frizzy-haired, poetic-voiced, older-than-average yoga instructor instructed, “the breath swirling the air around your body as you inhale all of the breath into your lungs. As you exhale, imagine the breath swirling in your body and send the healing breath to whichever part of your body needs it the most.”
I used this technique, as stupid as I thought it was, often, and in many locales for many months until I realized that I no longer got the hives everyday. Or ANY day, for that matter, even though I was no longer poppin pink pills.
The yoga teacher described this technique whilst we were stuck in warrior 2 or pigeon pose for too many breaths, and told us that it’s okay to feel an itch on your ankle and not be able to scratch it, or that it’s okay to feel a slight uncomfortable feeling (not a sharp pain) in your calf muscle, and that often just the act of focusing your breath to this specific locale will help you get over it, or help you work through it. She also gave us permission to use this breathing technique in other places in our lives. Let’s say, in the grocery checkout isle, when the person 4 spots ahead starts counting change and the person 3 spots ahead pulls out coupons and the person 2 spots ahead waves their buddy over with another basket of goods, because this line (somehow) is perceived to be moving faster than every other line.
She gave us permission to breathe during a test, while we were nervous, when someone wanted you to do something you hated, before screaming at your kids about the garbage, and before answering your mother’s phone call.
A couple of years ago, while living with 15 roommates new to Los Angeles, I had a conversation with an Indian native about yoga. That’s confusing. Dots, not feathers. An Indian from India living (with me) in America, not a native american. Anyway, he told me that in India, the belief is that you are born with all of the heart beats you’re ever going to get. The practice of yoga is to control the breath, which in turn, slows the heartbeat, thus extending your life.
Practicing breathing means practicing yoga means practicing life.
So go, you skeptical little yogi, you. Practice breathing. Practice while running. While sitting in traffic. While carrying something heavy. Directly after burning your dinner, but directly before deciding what to do about it. Right after watching a really bad movie, but right before flipping over the couch because the ending doesn’t make any sense. Before a meeting, during a meeting, after a meeting. In the midst of a speech, whether to your kids, at a Toastmaster’s meeting, to your boss, to a client, or to your frenemy, practice the power of the breath, instead of saying “ummm” or “like”, or whatever idiotic thing you were about to say next.
Practice breathing before bed, while lying in Savasana, the corpse pose. Since you’re NOT on a bamboo floor in a yoga class full of strangers in sorta sexy yoga pants, you’re just in your bed, it’s perfectly okay to let the most boring and most rejuvenating pose transport you off to sleep land.
Breathe more, freak out less.