Tuesday, January 19, 2010

competitive yoga

Yoga is a funny thing.

I've been going to classes lately. You're supposed to do certain things in yoga; things like engage and pay attention to and enter into. Sometimes, you're even supposed to breathe for other people. But one thing you are never meant to do in yoga is compete.


See, the instructor is forever talking about how you do what only you can do, and how when you're supposed to be doing crow but all you can do is lie on the floor like mush pretending to do a child's pose, you should thank your body for what it can do - and let it not do what it can't do.

Maybe I picked the wrong sport, then. Because how does a woman who, at the age of twenty-four STILL cheats at Scrabble, enter into a room to work out with a bunch of strangers (okay, and my mom) and not compare or compete? I couldn't lose to the kids I was baby-sitting for in high school. What makes me think that I can lose now?

There is no losing in yoga, I can hear the instructor say. Well, that's fine for you because you can do the air splits. But whenever you preface a pose with "For a challenge," or, "If it is available to you," or (my favorite), "If you are really bendy," I AM GOING TO DO IT. Probably really poorly, and with a resultant knee injury that I will nobly hide, but I'll be damned if I'm not going to do what the fifty year-old man next to me or the weird looking redheaded girl (my new nemesis, by the way, since Vince quit Blockbuster, but that's another post) are doing with supreme ease and serenity. You don't just sit idly by in yoga. You win! And you, instructor, may pretend not to acknowledge that reality but everybody sees it. Everyone knows who the winner is when we walk out of class. It's usually the redheaded girl, but I hear that she's going back to fourth grade soon. That's when I'll have my chance.

I think I've finally found my people, though. The ones who are really out in the open about all this stuff. The picture at the top of this post? Sonja Wyche, from Washington, D.C., in a YOGA COMPETITION. It was started by a guru, so you know it's legit.

Because really, why do anything if you can't win?


Anna Jordan said...

Agreed. I'm right with you. My favorite is "if you need, go in to child's pose... or if you're able, downward dog." Damn straight I'm in that downward dog.

And you're right. There's always a winner - and yoga instructors know it. I have a friend who's a yoga instructor and one of our recent conversations went like this:

Him: I'm kicking so much ass in my practice right now. My warrior one is lower and better than Tony's.

Me: Who's Tony?

Him: The guy who always puts his mat in the front of Deb's class and can do everything.. and now I'm totally beating him.

Me: Isn't yoga supposed to be a personal practice and you aren't supposed to watch other people?

Him (eyebrow raise): Yeah. Sure.


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the princess said...

am I not allowed to read your blog any more if I say (with this post) you sound just like your dad!