I really detest exercise. It’s not me. Never was.
But common sense, a weak back, and a desire to live a productive healthy life (NOT necessarily long) is a pretty good motivator. And there is also the mental health benefits. Like a nano-vacation, getting out of our regular skin is a great feeling, even if it is only for a 1/2 an hour a few times a week.
Along the way I’ve discovered yoga. It’s been described as slow gymnastics by the Dutch, repressed dance by choreographers, and as a new form of torture by anyone who has seen a contortionist or the cirque de soleil.
That said, it’s going to be the last exercise my body will endure. I can do it sitting down, or standing in line, or even lying in bed. Heck, I’ll be doing it in my coffin just before they torch me; the pose is called corpse pose!
More to the point, yoga itself is beautiful. Balancing the position of every muscle in your body against gravity, and against yourself, is a precise discipline that makes me appreciate my body in new ways. My gurus and yogini friends claim that all this stretching and balancing will reduce the chance of hip surgery and even simply falling and breaking my hip or head. But learning more about my body, and getting stronger at the same time are true benefits that I can appreciate today.
There are some side benefits. Savasana for one – getting to just lie on the floor for a few minutes at a time. Reminds me of nap time in kindergarten. And then there’s all the pretty yoginis, of all ages. Skin tight fashionable clothing, sweating and posturing right there next to me. How can that not be fun?
And, yes, there’s the downside, and the reason for this article. I do love the new exercise we call yoga, but I’m terrible at it. My body is rather ungainly, doesn’t flex well, and certainly doesn’t do anything in a coordinated way. Yesterday my shoulders went one way and my hips decided to go an entirely new way, and my knees went in two entirely different directions. It took the instructor a few minutes just to stop laughing long enough to try and put me back together.
Yet, as ugly as I am in yoga, I’m learning from it and getting better. I feel sorry for those fellow students who have to look at me when they’re pointing their heads my way. I also feel for those courageous instructors who feel that they have to touch my body to get me bending in a meaningful way. I want to offer them some sanitizer when they finish.
If I can do it, you can certainly do it. And there’s a good chance you’ll look a heck of a lot better at it than I will.