Sunday, December 20, 2009

When Is A Yoga Class NOT a Yoga Class?

The most obvious answer to that question is "When the man who shows up to teach the class is wearing a pair of knee length jorts (that would be jean shorts for those who are not well-versed in fashion faux-pas vernacular). Jorts on a man are offensive in ALL forms, but the near-knee length is especially likely to bring the fashion police a-blarin' to the scene of the crime, ready to write up a ticket for "DWARN" or "dressing while a red neck."

But jorts on a yoga instructor? That's a pretty clear sign that the class you're about to participate in is going to have a hard time living up to your expectations or to the most minimal of standards when it comes to a yoga class.

Now let me clarify. My expectations are perhaps too high. We are talking about the YMCA after all, and not a candle-lit, OM tapestry-lined, river-music playing yoga studio. Nothing against the Y, but it is hard to turn a community exercise room into a yoga studio. I get that. And I am spoiled in that the first yoga classes I ever took were in an aerobics room that the instructor managed to transform, every class, into a yoga studio--complete with candled, soothing music and instruction in gentle tones. I've written about that class a couple of times and this is one of those times when I wish I had "categories" in my blog so I would have a snowballs chance in hell of finding those entries and linking them. But alas, I'm lucky I ever figured out how to start a blog in the first place, such is my lack of computer savvy. So, trust me. I've written about the first yoga class and it's profound impact on me before.

I've searched for ten years for a gym that could deliver the same type of yoga experience. Because let's face it---gym membership is expensive enough. Then I need to go spend $18 a lesson for yoga at a studio, too? That makes getting my Zen on AND having a place to run on a treadmill so expensive that all my Zen is frittered away worrying about the amount of money I'm blowing on running and yoga. Yes, I hear you saying "So, dumbass, run on the pavement, then come home, light a candle and do a yoga DVD." You may be on to something. But I have trouble pacing myself on pavement and burn out quickly, and I'm far more likely to end up with a cat crawling on me while doing yoga in my living room than I am in a studio that is designated a cat-free zone.

Either way, let's get back to the Y, shall we?

I stood outside the community exercise room, smiling at a bunch of strangers who all had yoga mats flung over their shoulders, so I figured I was in the right place. I was the youngest person there by a good 20 years from my estimation. The man who I would later find was the instructor was leaning against the wall, chatting with some of the students, sporting the aforementioned jorts, a muscle-tank top (you know those super loose David Lee Roth-esque tank tops from the 80's?) and....a terry cloth head band.

People, I can't make this shit up. I thought to myself, "Wow, I hope the instructor lets him know that that outfit really isn't great for yoga. He's going to be really uncomfortable." Yeah, I know. Irony, thy name is creepy, inappropriately dressed yoga instructor.

I heard him telling one of the other people waiting that he had thrown his back out a few days earlier while, wait for it....scrambling an egg. I thought, "gee, poor guy. Doesnt' know how to dress for a yoga class AND he's in such rotten shape that scrambling an egg tweaked his back. It's a good thing he's come to the yoga class!"

So let's just imagine my surprise when the aerobics class let out, the yoga class filed into the class room and started rolling out their mats, and Jorty McBadBack hobbles to the front of the class and throws down his exercise mat (please note that I didn't say his yoga mat). Um. Hello? Really? You're the teacher?

For a second I considered rolling up my mat, shoving it back into it's bag and skulking out, pretending I was in the wrong place. "Oooops! You mean this isn't spinning?!!" But given my attire (what other sport do you do bare foot?!) and that I already had what was clearly a yoga mat spread out in front of me, I didn't think I could do that subtly. And I thought, "you know what, Sarah? Stop being a snob. Fine. He's wearing jorts. And a terry cloth head band. And he just said his back is thrown out. He might still be a great yoga instructor. Suck it up." So I stayed.

My little pep talk to myself? Can suck it. AW.FUL class. Jorty McBB did indeed beg off of doing any traditional yoga poses with the exception of downward dog. Which we did over and over and over during the course of the 1.5 hour class. There was no music at all, unless you count the grunting of the fat old man three people over as "music". I do not.

Jorty McBB wanted us to do a lot of "lengthening" work. With partners. So I had to spend a lot of time touching a woman I'd never met before. Holding a foam brick to her ass so she could push against it with her butt while she pushed against the wall with her arms. So you know, that was fun. And then I got to get a foam brick on my ass, too. PARTY!

I also had to strap a belt around her hips and help her lengthen farther into downward dog. This entailed pretty much putting my face on her butt to find the correct placement for the belt. Seriously. "Mortified" doesn't begin to cover it. I looked around a couple of times to see if the mirrors might made of one-way glass and this was actually a psych experiment to see how far people would blindly go, listening the instructions of someone in a position of power. Maybe some grad student was behind the glass taking copious notes: "People willing to grope each other repeatedly when man in jorts tells them to. Very interesting."

But no. It was just us. And the foam blocks and belts. And Jorty. ::shudder::

When the class was almost over (and my humiliation utterly complete), we settled into savasana, corpse pose, for our end of class relaxation. Thankfully there is no partner role in this position, so I relished my time to lie on my back, relaxing my muscles from my toes upwards, focusing on my breathing and letting my mind be quiet.

Until fat old man three people over started to snore.


Jennifer said...

omg. this is the funniest thing i have ever read. you HAVE to find another yoga class. sometimes nicer studios let you buy a bunch of classes so it becomes cheaper. you CAN'T go back!!!

lonek8 said...

wow - that is hilarious. Only in retrospect, no doubt. Why don't you go up to the management and let them know how god awful their instructor is - maybe you can get a part time job teaching the class, haha! I feel so much better about my gym classes now - even though one woman is a flake and the other sounds exactly like a flight attendant the entire class, none of them ever wears jorts, and we don't do any horrific partnering either. good luck finding another place to go.

MamaBear said...

I am ROLLING over here! Hy-freakin-sterical!

gringa said...

Finding a friend to give you a recommendation is definitely in order! You really have patience to have put yourself through that!

Linsey said...


Hahahahahaha! Classic.

Sarah said...

Can I just tell you, I cold NEVER do partner yoga-- OMFG.

I also gym it up at a Y, and our yoga classes (in the spin/ballet studio) are totally zen. I agree with Kate-- teach the class :)

Jorts-- ha!

Tress said...

That was hysterical, and thank god you didn't storm out or you would have passed up on some prime blogging material. Too funny.

The scrambling an egg part reminds me of the personal trainer I used to have, who was amazing until his marriage fell apart. Then he took to regaling me with tales of how many beers he drank or bags of chips he inhaled the night before - while I was killing myself on some godawful weight machine under his instruction. Awesome.