I went to yoga last night.
I say "went to" rather than "did" because I am not sure I was actually doing yoga. I was doing something, just not sure you can call it yoga.
I live in Santa Cruz County, where people have yoga'd since birth. There are yoga studios in Santa Cruz like coffee shops in Seattle. Its second nature here. But I did not grow up here. I grew up on the other side of the bay, which is the other side of the cultural spectrum. And I was an army brat. Army kids don't do yoga. We do jumping jacks.
Not that I haven't ever done yoga before. I did it for a year, but that was more than 15 years ago. It was Kundalini yoga, a powerful and ancient yoga, taught by some american sikhs at a local Universalist Church. The whole thing was so foreign to me. The sikhs had long hair that they curled up on their heads and they wore these funny little hats and silver bracelets. Their kids could wrap their bodies up like pretzels. We said lots of "sat nams" and listened to an ancient gong and drank chai tea. This may have been no big deal in Santa Cruz, but in the conservative jumping jack county of Monterey, this was as exotic as it got.
And I was lured and lulled by the whole thing. I romanticized the sikhs, and put them on a spiritual high rung on the nirvana ladder. They could touch the backs of their heads with their feet, so they must have had answers to life's mysteries. And if I said my sat nams and drank their tea, maybe I would be spiritually enriched somehow as well.
And then, one day, I read in the newspaper how this particular family of sikhs were all busted for construction fraud in Seaside. Seaside is my people. The yoga sikhs were fuckin with my people.
And I never went back and I hadn't done yoga since.
Until last night. And it showed.
Last night was vinyasa yoga. A slower gentler yoga than kundalini and I figured I could handle that.
I needed remedial help.
First I walked on the floor with my shoes on. Everyone sort of made the oh-oh face at me and I realized that shoes on the yoga floor is a big no-no. I tried to show that they were Danskos. Surely there was some sympathy for Danskos amongst the yoga set?
So I tiptoed back to the shoe taking off area and took off my shoes. Then I noticed that everyone had mats and things. I saw the mats and things spot on the other side of the room and grabbed one of everything that was there. This included a purple mat, a blanky, a purple styrofoam block and a strap that looked like it was used for something naughty.
When did yoga have so many accessories?
It started off innocently enough with Child's pose. I could do that pose all day long. I'll just lay there and drool. Except my mat smelled like cigarettes. I can think of no logical reason that my yoga mat smelled like cigarettes, but it did. We were supposed to take deep breaths, but each breath brought purple cigarette foam into my face.
I noticed everyone else brought their own mats.
They also all had their socks off. I still had my socks on. Again another big no no. They were an old pair of bella socks and one of my toes was sort of almost sticking through the end of one of them. It kept distracting me, but I was too busy with the inhaling and the exhaling to figure out how to covertly remove them.
We moved through a succession of poses that all had wonderfully descriptive names. It was a blur of dogs, snakes and warriers. Upward ones and downward ones and sideways ones. And breath.
Always with the inhale and exhale. You were supposed to move from one pose to another with one breath.
You try deciphering what the hell downward snake charmer with warrier wings means, while discreetly glancing at the instructor and the people around you to make certain you really are supposed to have your foot next to your ear, all while trying not to slip in your socks, in one breath.
I was always one or two poses behind and sometimes I would have to skip a pose to catch up. I reminded myself of my mom when she does the electric slide or the macarena or the chicken dance in a big group. She doesnt have a sense of rhythym and so she is always on some other step than the rest of the group and clapping between beats.
And just when I thought I had nailed a pose, the instructor would come over and gently "correct" me. Or she would "suggest" the use of the block, a remedial aid of sorts. That really stung. I tried not to be competitive and all, I mean its anti-yogi to be competitive, but none of the other people in our group needed the remedial block.
We finished with some relaxation and then the session was over and everyone quietly gathered up ther mats and made a solemn exit. I hung out a little to talk to the instructor (who was Sarah Kerlin by the way and I hope she doesn't read this and get the wrong idea because I loved her session). We talked about yoga and poses and flexibility and health and fitness blah blah and finally put on our shoes.
When I notice that Sarah was wearing a Vanderkitten jacket and big ass high heel shoes. Yoga teachers aren't supposed to wear big ass high heel shoes.
I'm coming back next week.