I hate Yoga. No, I really mean I hate it. I hate the holier-than-thou attitude of those who practice it, and the way they insinuate that they are better inside because they do it. I hate the soft way people talk while they're doing it. I hate that the teachers walk around the room and talk about breathing all the time, as if that is going to rid me of the results of the pints and pints of coffee ice cream I've eaten over the course of my lifetime. Everyone knows that if your breathing isn't labored, you are not feeling the burn, which means you will not see results. Yoga people are thin, not because Yoga burns calories, but because they only eat things they have just pulled out of the ground.
I hate the names of Yoga poses. Downward Facing Dog. What does that mean? Why would I want to face downward and be a dog? Dogs are bad boys that treat you poorly. Everyone knows that. Half Boat Posture. Really? Any idiot knows that boats have no posture. Cobra. I hate snakes. Need I continue?
Inhale whilst you do this, exhale whilst you do that. The anxiety that overtakes me when my breathing is out of step with everyone else's is enough to send me running out of class. And I have done just that.
At a writer's group dinner last night, one of the bloggers was talking about Bikram Yoga.
"It changed my life. I go to bed at 11:00 pm now and I get up at 5:45. Every day. I sleep through the night and am out when my head hits the pillow. The first few times I did it I was sure I was going to die, but then I liked it."
"Well, I did it once," I chimed in. "And, I passed out cold on the floor."
"You should have stuck with it!"
"Why would I do that? I passed out! I was so hot I couldn't breathe. Why would I possibly want to do that?"
She looked at my disdainfully, so I picked up my iPhone friend and Googled "Bikram Yoga Deaths." She really left me no alternative.
"Let me share with you the stories of some others," I said, recognizing the power of the Internet and opinions other than my own. "Here's one that may be of interest: As I lay on the ground, bathed in sweat, I could just make out the approaching sound of the ambulance. As exhausted as I felt, though, the ambulance was not coming for me. It was coming for a gray-haired lady who'd collapsed a few yards away and had to be carried off by a volunteer brigade because she was too weak to stand and too confused to remember what year it was."
I waited for a response. The younger blogger, Emily, ignored me and said to Linda, "Only $20 for ten day sessions? Wow. I should try it."
"Are you not listening to me?" I said a little louder. "People die doing Bikram Yoga!"
And so it went.
I was once at the fabulous Canyon Ranch Spa, which I used to frequent more when I was a rich person. A friend who was there with me said, "Try it with me one more time. I heard this instructor is amazing!" We arrived and the lights were dim, which always irritates me. I am not a five-year-old lying down for a nap at pre-school. The instructor was starting to walk the room (note they never do the poses). I always go to the back row corner in hopes of disappearing. I saw her hone in on me from the front of the room and make her way back. I sighed. She touched my shoulders in that kindly, personal way I don't allow strangers to do.
"You need to relax," she whispered, just loudly enough for the silent roomful of people to hear.
"You need to go touch somebody who wants you to," I said, in a voice that clearly stated I had bigger issues than a bowing dog.
"Oh." She backed away from me, stunned, as if I were one of those Cobra poses come to life.
I stood up and flounced out. With dignity and certainty, I left the room. Then I realized I would have to go back in if I wanted to get my Canyon Ranch bag. They give you these bags when you arrive to check in. You are always so grateful for the gift even though you know that for the $1,000-plus they charge per night it really should be made out of alligator. Seriously. Well, I left the bag there and didn't go back. No way was I showing her she shook me. Nope.
So, I don't like Yoga, and I generally find Yoga people irritating, no offense intended. I hope I haven't put you off if you like it. But next time you're at your Yoga class, look around the room and ask yourself where the creative minds are. They aren't lying on the floor, breathing in while their backs are on the floor and breathing out while their backs are arched with their bellies in the air. You will find us doing things like pole dancing to Barry Manilow, or doing Pilates on machines that originated in the S&M clubs we call home.