I hate yoga like I hate eggs. You may think there’s little in common between the two, but you would be wrong. Sure, one is edible and the other is guided stretching in comfy pants; but when I confess my dislike of either, I am met with the exact same skepticism.
“But it’s really, really good for you.”
“You just haven’t tried it this way.”
“Ugh, you’re wrong! This is the best way to start a morning.”
“Hate is a strong word.”
I’m not kidding. If I had a dollar for every time someone tried to convince me I didn’t really hate yoga (or eggs), I could take a week off work and fly to Bermuda and get a hot summer tan. It’s always the instructor’s fault, or the style of the class, or the aura of the location. Hating yoga (or eggs) just isn’t a thing people understand, but trust me. There’s something about stretching and then holding it as long as I can that makes me want to run away screaming. There’s something about being quiet and breathing intentionally that (ironically) makes me want to hyperventilate. I’ve tried yoga in the woods, by the lake, in a gym, at the art museum, in classes, with mom in the basement…
I hate yoga.
But I’ve also had a stressful few weeks. On top of starting a new job, working double shifts, trying to feed myself, and remembering to get gas, I’ve also had trouble sleeping. My mind just won’t stop working. It’s like someone took the nice, neat compartments I’d made for my thoughts and bombed them to smithereens. My responsibilities used to be predictable and routine. Now there’s a mess of mental rubble–memories, stress dreams, creative ideas, and endless to-do lists.
“How can I fix this?” I wondered a few nights ago, suddenly questioning my long-held bias against yoga.
I briefly reviewed the reasons I hate yoga: it makes me fart; my butt feels vulnerable up in the air; my clothes aren’t stylish enough; it’s too quiet so everyone can hear me fart; I can’t touch my toes; conspicuous wedgies…
“Still,” I mused, alone in the gloaming, “what if I tried?”
With the entire Interworld at my fingertips, I did a quick search for the top ten easy yoga poses. As I typed, I imagined myself attempting the poses and my problems falling gracefully to the wayside. My hair came out of the rubber band in cute little wisps and my shirt draped romantically over my shoulders. My face was serene, my mind relaxed. The following is what really happened:
I skipped the nostril breathing. According to one practitioner, three slow breaths from their left nostril was enough to put them to sleep each night. No, thank you! Good for you; not for me!
Without the aid of my left nostril, I went straight into what is called the “Easy Pose.” (I should mention that I will not be using any “asana” names during this post because I definitely would not call what I did correct or authentic in any way.) I won’t lie. I only held this long enough to take a picture.
I moved on to something familiar. I’ve been doing Child’s Pose since I was a kid and mom dragged me to her yoga class. Sure, I can curl up in a ball. I can even pretend I can feel this stretching my thighs and ankles and back. But there is a limit to how long I can stare directly at the ground before I start to feel strange. One practitioner online commented that this was the cutest pose ever because they felt like a little biscuit.
Proposal: Rename this the Little Biscuit Pose.
Now here’s a yoga pose I can get behind. The Corpse Pose is not only simple, it is also how I spent 90% of my day off on Sunday. Psshhh, yoga is easy.
Things got a little dicey when I moved onto the Cobra Pose. This was another familiar pose, introduced to me in dance class after ab work outs, but that didn’t make it feel any less awkward as I tried to remember where to put my hands. Turns out, there’s a Cobra Pose for Dummies website. Maybe I should have consulted that first.
Life didn’t get much easier for me as I tried out The Bridge and The Happy Baby poses. No need for commentary. I think my face says it all.
I redeemed myself ever-so-slightly with the Camel Pose, though (trust me), it was not without some audible groaning. It took me way longer than necessary to find my heels, too. The generic, stock-photo women doing this pose on the website looked so serene as they bent over backwards. Me? I was never more aware of how much I hate yoga as when I was doing this pose.
Undeterred, I pushed on, following with a gravely impassioned Warrior and an absurdly giddy Tree. To be fair, I was confusing the Tree with the Baby. Or, maybe I was confusing yoga with Bob Ross. Looking back, it doesn’t make sense that a tree would be happy. But then again, yoga doesn’t make sense to me. Whatever. Hindsight is 20/20.
Things got weird when I tried to make a triangle with my body with my butt to the camera. I don’t know exactly what I was thinking, but it had something to do with wanting to imitate the woman on the website, and her butt was to the camera, too. This pose was a pretty decent stretch, but it definitely did a better job showcasing my burgeoning wedgie. We can’t all be perfect…
It was at this moment that I decided to attempt my Everest. Some people struggle with handstands, others with finding the perfect scenic location to record themselves being fabulous. I can’t touch my toes. (Yes, even after all those dance lessons mom paid for.) I took a deep breath and began to fold myself in half, imagining that I was doing it vertebrae by vertebrae, just like a yoga instructor would advise.
And then I hit a wall, but don’t take my word for it. In good faith, I documented everything.
Nope. No matter frequently I exhaled–no matter how desperately my arms flailed looking for something more toe-like to grab–I flat out failed. Toe touches just aren’t in my wheelhouse. Sorry, mom.
After that disappointment, I couldn’t go on. My tolerance for uncomfortably pushing my board-stiff muscles to new heights was waning, and I was feeling more and more ridiculous by the minute. Don’t get me wrong, though! Some of my friends feel and look powerful when they do yoga. Some of my friends find a peaceful quietude that helps them organize their lives and conquer their demons. I don’t doubt the benefits of comfy pants, mindful breathing, and body contortions for other people. That doesn’t change the fact that I hate it.
I may be worse than a novice…I may have only looked at pictures to do these poses…I may have been too caught up in what exactly constitutes half a fish lord…I may have thrown in the towel without really trying…But I do have to hand it to yoga: it was so awkward, I stopped worrying about work.
Disclaimer: DO NOT GOOGLE YOGA AND ATTEMPT YOGA. YOGA REQUIRES PRACTICE AND BASIC INSTRUCTION. I AM A MORON.