I can’t touch my toes or Bend it like Bikram, but I can officially say that I have finally come to peace with the very type of exercise I refused to embrace.
A few years back, the thought of sticking my ass up in the air was inconceivable. I would have rather been prancercising with Richard Simmons wearing leg warmers and tight running shorts. No, this doesn’t mean that I’m a Deepak Chopra devotee, or that I calmly ask my children to load the dishwasher for the 10th time, nor does my diet include kale and quinoa. It simply means that I’ve imbibed the yoga Kool-Aid.
Yoga has been transforming bodies and minds for 2,000 plus years and includes over 20 varieties with names eerily similar to Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Ashtanga, Kundalini and Vinyasa. Benefits include better posture, strengthening, flexibility, and heart health and stress management. I would personally add, clearer skin, toned arms and better sex life (ok now I’ve got your attention!)
Perhaps the biggest evolution in yoga has been the burgeoning industry, spawning yoga centers and clubs and retail giants from Athleta to Lululemon. What did they wear in 500 BC?!
My personal transformation began a few years back when my daughters and a good friend convinced me to join them at HYP Studio in Wellesley (shameless plug here) and take a Vinyasa flow class by a Yogi named Masaaki. When I entered the 95-degree, hot and humid yoga room, my Long Island alter ego arrived, like “Babs” on steroids. My daughters shushed me repeatedly while I exclaimed the following: “Oh my gawd it’s f%*king hot!” and “my hair is going to frizz!”
Masaaki entered showing off his toned, handsomely tattooed body and shouting out commandments like Moses on the Mount: “Breathe in, breathe out”, “Downward and Upward dog” and “Assume the Position” contorting our bodies into mammals and amphibians. Each class begins and ends with the chant “Ohm” which is meant to “calm the mind and bring you to a higher level of consciousness”.
During my first class I couldn’t stop laughing as the woman next to me sounded like Meg Ryan in “Harry Met Sally”. Masters and Johnson need look no further for their research! The hour ended with Shiva Sana, defined as corpse pose or as I like to term it “Thank God It’s Over” pose. During Shiva Sana one is expected to lay on one’s mat with the intention of no movement or thoughts, hence a corpse.
That first year, thoughts ravaged my brain from, “what kind of coffee should I have today? Iced or hot?” to “oh my god I missed my niece’s birthday“ to, “Do I hear someone’s stomach rumbling or is that mine?”
I have learned to find a new voice and it’s called “Shut the F%*k Up,” focusing on my breathe, ignoring my gaseous stomach and everything that I need to do the second I step off that mat.
You will now find me at my practice at 5:45am most week day mornings, breathing, ohming and down dogging it. I can’t do a handstand or place my heels on the ground but I’m rocking Shiva Sana. Yoga as they say, “is a practice” and I need lots of it.