I am a person who strives for balance. I am constantly working on myself, seeking out how to improve and I even have a list of thirty goals (ten for health/physical well being, ten personal and ten career) that I keep track of on a daily basis (and I grade myself on a weekly basis). I went to graduate school in Los Angeles, lived in West Hollywood, worked in Santa Monica… you would think I would have tried yoga before, but I haven’t. That is, until two weeks ago…
I was at a networking event for my business and another person there had her own yoga studio. We talked and she had this computer program where you put your hands on these sensors and it reads your aura. It was interesting because everyone had different results (so it isn’t like it was a room temperature thing). There are three different categories that the program read: mind, body and spirit. Ideally, a person is balanced, but there is usually a dominant category. Roy (mu husband) was 70% body, 21% mind and 9% spirit. Let me preface my reading by stating that Roy was much more balanced than I was. My reading showed that I was 96% spirit, 3% mind, 1% body. The woman seemed surprised by my reading. I guess people aren’t usually that off balance and spirit seemed to be a popular minority for people who gave the program a try. The woman told me that my result basically meant I am very insightful, intuitive, compassionate, and resilient.
(Of course on the way home, the woman driving next to us refused to let us over, as in she played chicken, slowing down or speeding up in terms of letting us over. It was either merge onto the highway ramp or hit something so my husband forced his way over. The woman, who seemed ridiculous and kind of terrible at this point, proceeded to flip us off. So, what did my 96% spiritual self do? I used both of my middle fingers and made motions with them, which seemed to get my point across. She looked both shocked and pissed off, which brought a smile to my face. How is that for spiritual?)
Anyway, we went to this woman’s studio and she gave us an introductory consultation. It was very interesting and I liked the idea of getting more in tune with my body and focusing more (the mind category). She was very nice and I was comfortable with her, but I felt kind of weird when it came to talking about me, especially when we went over the health stuff, or at least the stuff the form asked about. She gave me this look (my husband later told me I deeply affected her and that makes me uncomfortable) and told me I had a very strong will. (I was kind of proud of myself for not making any death jokes about my aura. I mean when you die a couple dozen times, of course you have very little body and are all spirit. I mean you keep leaving and coming back! Anyway…)
So, we ended up signing up for a yoga class. I was excited, skeptical and slightly anxious. My first class didn’t go so well. I won’t lie, I kind of hated it. First of all, I couldn’t hear the instructor at all, so I had to rely on mimicking what I saw. This was complicated when she would make us close our eyes. I didn’t, but then she would come over to me until I did. (This made me extremely annoyed.) Then, there was the fact that she kept touching me. She would put her hands on me without invitation or take my hands and put them on her. This made me scream on the inside. I have a bubble of personal space. It is maybe a few inches, so not huge, not this big bubble, but one that should not be deliberately invaded, and that is what it felt like. Unless you’re my husband, or I’m greeting someone or saying goodbye, there is no reason for random touching. Then about 45% of the class involved lying on our backs. This is great, except with my shunt I can’t lie flat or it breaks and I’m off having another brain surgery (no thanks). So, I tried to apply what I saw from a sitting position, which wasn’t doable most of the time.
What made the whole experience worse was the fact that the instructor called me out on everything I was doing wrong, but usually could not do (shunt, closing my eyes because I wouldn’t know what to do since I cannot hear, or if I didn’t master something) in front of everyone. I found this humiliating. After the first class, the only thing I felt was frustrated – as in more frustrated than I was before I went into class. I didn’t like yoga. I didn’t really want to go back, but I knew I had to try it again. I owed myself at least one more shot.
I talked to the instructor before the second class, about options of what I could do while everyone else laid down. She told me to breathe. All right, I can’t do this stomach in/out breathing thing for thirty-five minutes without going crazy. (I have already tried meditation and that just didn’t work out. All I kept thinking about was every productive thing I could be doing while I sat around and did nothing.) Between the not hearing (I have to stay in back because of the not participating in half the class because of my shunt), the pressure to close my eyes (this time I refused – I mean how would I know when they moved onto something else, I’m deaf), touching, classroom atmosphere and this class session had about thirty people in it instead of the previous twelve, I was wondering when it would be over, five minutes into class. I regretted giving it another shot. I wanted to leave.
I felt I was on touch and embarrassment overload and while I liked the woman/instructor as a person and wanted to like yoga, if she put her hands on my stomach and lower back one more time, I would probably snap (verbally, but still). So when it was time to lie down, I walked out. Everyone’s eyes were closed and the lying down would take place until the end of class (plus I was in back). I figured I would slip out unnoticed (well except to the instructor) and save my sanity. Needless to say I did not (and will not) go back.
I’m not anti-yoga. A lot of my friends swear by it, love it and I appreciate the idea behind it. But either yoga is not for me, or I need to start seriously balling (do people still use that word?) and be able to just do private sessions. I feel much more secure in a one-on-one situation or with small group of people I am already comfortable with. The kind of thing where asking the instructor not to touch me, wouldn’t be making a scene (which is why I didn’t say anything before) or where I wouldn’t feel embarrassed every time I received ‘special’ attention. Plus with a personalized routine, I could avoid the entire ‘can’t participate in half the class’ thing.
I may try it on my own since I remember all the exercises and incorporate it into my physical routine a few times a week. I might have a private session one day. I’m not writing it off, but I honestly don’t know if I will ever be into it (and I am writing off the classroom setting). I don’t know, but maybe as much as I want to like yoga, I just don’t and maybe that won’t change. I’m an overachiever and a perfectionist. As my friend Jennifer said, when I asked a few people if I was the only one who just didn’t ‘get it’, she said “Yoga is a practice… you never master it. That itself annoys the hell out of me.” That statement clicked for me more than any experience with yoga had.
Roy, on the other hand loved it from the start and we just applied the credit of my class refund to his account for future classes. I’m glad he is getting something out of it (it was noticeable after the very first class) and I still hope to find something that can help me connect with my mind and body more. But for now, I have to say that yoga and I just didn’t click – for me it was nothing more than a failed experiment.
*I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this: if yoga worked for you or if it didn’t, and if it didn’t what you tried instead (if anything). I am still debating on if it was the classroom experience or yoga itself that didn’t jibe well with me.