Inside and outside

Yoga has lost it’s initial allure for me. I was taking all of my yoga classes from the same yoga teacher, Anna, a vivacious thirtysomething gal with long brown hair and a penchant for for eschewing the typical “yoga music” in favor of songs like Van Morrison’s “Moondance” or Kenny Chesney’s “You and Tequila.” Her music choices are odd, but they strangely work. Her goofiness is often displayed during her teaching, such as the moment she asked us to “put our hands together.” Then she thought better of it, and said, “Pancake your hands together. Hmmm … pancakes … I sure could use a stack of them right now.” And the class just giggles with her.

I found Anna after I stopped going to the “Gentle Yoga” class at this same studio that was given on Sunday mornings. It was advertised as “appropriate for all levels,” but, no, it is much preferred that you know what you are doing. For some reason, all the yoga teachers at this yoga studio are infatuated with the flowy vinyasa style, which is fine if you tell us that the class will be taught in this style. This teacher’s favorite thing was to have us flow from plank pose to downward dog. There may have been another pose in between those two. The flow was hard for me, but I was doing it to the best of my ability when all of a sudden I hear the instructor say, “Nope, nope, nope. We need to take a timeout.” There I am unaware and wondering what could possibly be wrong when she comes over to me, and says, “No, that is not what we are doing.” She then demonstrates for me what my flow should look like, but I am unable to do it as I stumble in my efforts with the entire class stopped and mouths a bit agape. She then gives up, and says to me, “It’s a learning thing that you need to work on,” as if stretching the word “learning” will hasten my mastery of what I need to do. Mean Sunday Teacher has since changed the title of this class to “Hot Yoga Flow.” Every time I see her I am tempted to say to her, “You didn’t have to change the name. No chance of me returning after our last interaction.” I’ve refrained because these days I can never tell if I say too much.

Then there’s that moment 3 Saturdays ago where we were doing the Seated Forward Bend in Anna’s allegedly advertised “Gentle Yoga” class on Saturday morning. There I am seated and bending, though my bend is barely a bend, but trying to bend nonetheless. Anna is going around making adjustments as she always does. I think nothing of it when she comes over, places her hands on my back and asks me to breathe deeply, and when I do she gently pushes me forward. At the time I thought nothing of it, but, for some reason, I am convinced that this is when I hurt my back. There is a chance it could have happened during another part of this class, but it definitely happened in this class. It was likely a bad sign at the start of class when she looked out at us, smiled, and said, “I’m not feeling gentle today.” Apparently, she also was not up to keeping the room at normal temperature because the temperature warmed up considerably, and I was not dressed appropriately for yoga that was warm or hot. Between the heat and the too far Seated Forward Bend it was a recipe for bad news. As I left the class I was incredibly sore, which made me initially unaware of my back injury. My whole body felt like a Mack truck ran over it.

By the next day it was clear that I had a muscle spasm in my upper back. The pain intensified as the days wore on until I finally dragged myself to acupuncture for relief. Four sessions later, I am improved though I still have intermittent twingy pain in my upper left back. It saddens beyond measure that this occurred in Anna’s class.

I miss yoga and hate it all at the same time. Anna has since changed the title of Saturday “Gentle Yoga” class to “Hot Power Yoga.” That’s what it should have been called from the start. I no longer go to this class, and I’m attending only her evening slow flow class because the class is as advertised. Even so, I am not entirely comfortable in her classes. I miss the way the right sad song, such as “You and Tequila,” in one of her classes during shavasana would cause a single tear to fall out of my eye, and right into my mouth. The saltiness of the tear was strangely cathartic.

I’ve started venturing out to other classes. Last Sunday I took a Yoga Nidra restorative class. The room was arctic, and that detracted a bit from the restorative aspect of the class. The instructor was neither friendly nor rude, a strangely indescribable affect that does not entice me to return. It’s unfortunate because I liked all the comfy props that prop you into a blissful state of being. More than that, I liked the practice.

Today I found a Svaroopa yoga class, what a fun name, Svaroopa! I amuse myself just saying the name. You use a lot of props to support your body in the poses, it’s safe for people with back injuries, at least, according to the brochure it is … I am late because I am a ding dong with getting moving on Saturday mornings. I’ve no good reason for my lateness.

Mercifully, I finally find the strip mall that has the Svaroopa yoga class. I walk in, and, literally, walk into the class. You open the door and you immediately are in the midst of the yoga class if one is in session. I was exactly 1 minute late, but they were engaged as if they had been at it for at least 15 minutes. I was mortified. The instructor came over, and kindly whispered to me when I could come over to join them. I then learned I did not need my yoga mat as the practice is done on a thick blanket. One could walk into this class with absolutely no knowledge of yoga, and still fully participate in the entire class without difficulty.

Unfortunately, it was very cold in the class, but I liked her style of teaching. I am catching on that cold yoga studios may be the norm in the colder months in the Northeastern United States. If I return I will have to become accustomed to her propensity to repeatedly say “inside and outside” during body sending meditation. I get so distracted by her intonation that it becomes a song in my head “inside and outside” …

Inside and outside I am lost in my search for a yoga home.

2 thoughts on “Inside and outside

  1. You’ll find the right yoga class. Sometimes the best things aren’t found right away but you have to work for them. (smile) It’s a really good thing that you continue yoga practice, though. What a great way to stay grounded and in the moment!


  2. You will find something that clicks. I had similar experiences with my pilates class – it was finding the right teacher and the right style of class – which included finding a teacher that was good with challenging me, but also ok with allowing me modifying/showing me modifications as I needed them because not all bodies all the same. (and I can’t plank and then go into downward dog without “walking” myself there. I mean…I am just not lanky enough for that)

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