Monday, 20 February 2012

Yoga - yea or nay?

I’ve been having an inner debate about the topic of yoga again the past few weeks. Unfortunately, we have not reached any conclusions yet.

There is a distinct possibility I might actually like doing it. I’m all for things like breathing techniques and meditation for one. Quite a fan of Eastern philosophy too (including some of the sexier bits of Taoism). Did Qigong for a while and loved it - once I got over the feeling of looking like a demented crane. And yet, whenever yoga is suggested to me, my mouth appears to be going into grimace mode.

It might be that I’m still failing to grasp the real benefits of bending my body into pretzel shapes with funny names. The whole idea after all, I believe, is to come to a deep state of relaxation and inner tranquility. Now for some reason I don’t associate body contortionism with inner peace. I just don’t think I’d be feeling very serene trying to do the Nearly Dead Crab. I’m sure it’s me. Just haven’t heard the right arguments yet – but am quite willing to be convinced. No really.

One of my dearest friends happens to be quite a fan. Her attempts to enthuse me would probably be a lot more effective if she wouldn’t complain of aches and pains for days after a session. I did try to get her to tell me exactly what the attraction is. Apart from the instructor who is apparently very cute and does not wear one of those outfits that show a man’s package all too clearly (talk about inner peace).

She told me that she can feel incredibly frustrated and sore, attempting to get her body to assume the desired awkward pose. And once she’s there, she ends up thinking she may never be able to uncoil herself without causing irreparable damage. Ah, but then! When she's at the end of a session and knows it's all over for another week and she's allowed to lie flat on her back for 15 minutes, listening to some sweet meditative tones, she can feel so very very content.

Hmm. Even as I type that I can feel my left eyebrow arching. Doesn't it all sound suspiciously like 'Why do you keep hitting yourself on the head with a hammer?' 'Because it feels so darn good when I stop!'. Yes. I’m SO going to be lectured about this. And for mentioning the instructor’s package obviously. I'll let you know once she gets a hold of it (for the record, I'd like white peonies at my funeral - I know they're out of season but if you'd truly love me you'd get them for me anyway).

Admittedly, I do have this silly mental image of myself doing yoga. Just not in some gym smelling of old shoes. In my fantasy yoga session I’m in the open air, on a plateau by an oriental style temple. I rather fancy a Balinese one. I’m wearing white cotton clothing (looking deceptively simple yet elegant) and have a fragrant melati flower stuck over one of my ears. A soft breeze gently ruffles my hair (not too much – said flower needs to stay put), carrying with it the scent of blossoms and the ocean. And all the while I’m bending my body into all sorts of positions with an easy, effortless grace.

Bit of a pity there's this little nagging voice inside my head that says that the whole point of yoga is probably to obtain that kind of tranquility even when life does not provide a Balinese temple and a gentle sea breeze. Maybe I should try to overcome years of extreme body consciousness and the fear of feeling awkward and clumsy and just give it a go. I'm the one who's always telling people 'you won't know until you try' after all (never realised quite how annoying that is).

I think I secretly want to be convinced yoga would be great for me.

Thoughts anyone?


  1. I've been doing yoga for a long time and I can tell you it's a great way to keep mind and body healthy. But tell your friend to try another teacher...there shouldn't be pain after a yoga session because you only bend your body as much as it's comfortable and you shouldn't do contortionism if you are not ready. Everything has to be done in little steps. If you go to a basic class you won't do any strange position, just the basics, and they work great!!
    I think you should try.

    1. I thought it was not quite right! What's the point of doing yoga if it gives you quite a bit of discomfort? Hmmm...

      What would you say is the best thing you've gotten out of yoga? Does it help you to clear your mind and destress, things like that? Or does it do more for you physically, in terms of flexibility, toning and such?

  2. it's the sense of connection that you feel between mind and body, you really learn to listen to yourself. You move muscles you didn't even know you had... and some position work miracles for things like head aches or for when you get your period. It's an overall sense of health.But a good teacher is the first thing, I have tried three before finding the right one. And it's great for toning too, which never hurts. At the end of one session you have to feel GOOD, not in pain at all!
    Now, I'm sorry indian food is waiting for me. See? I'm all about oriental things. I bore myself sometimes.

    1. Can I be boring with you? I love Indian food - but I'll cook you an Indonesian meal one day...

      Interesting to hear you say that about head aches, as my friend has those a lot, as well as very tense muscles in her neck and shoulders (she has had that for ages, it was not brought on by yoga but yoga doesn't relieve the pain either). Hmm, food for thought...

      Enjoy your meal! ;-D

  3. Try going for it. It can be rough once you get started with some of the poses. The thing is that your mind and body start to focus, you know? To get the body to do the stretching more efficiently. You start concentrating on doing the pose right that it stops your mind from getting distracted.

    Well, yoga can be pretty satisfying, if you're willing to push yourself.

    1. Thanks. I like the idea that yoga helps to stop the 'mind chatter'. Think I'll book myself that trial lesson.

      The thing is that I'm all for pushing myself - but I don't like being pushed to where I don't want to go. So if my body tells me I really shouldn't proceed with a certain pose (really tell me - not just me not willing to make an effort) and an instructor would then push me to go ahead, that would not work too well! ;-)

  4. I've tried it before and failed miserably because I just can't settle to something that's so slow, and yet that probably means I should be doing it even more - to slow down - because I get stressed out and can't stop thinking. At the end when we used to do the meditation and we counted backwards from 100, I'd get to about 94 before I was thinking of something else. No matter how many times I 'gently brought my attention back to my breathing' etc, I still wandered off in my head within a minute or so. The whole 'mind chatter' thing is huge for me... perhaps I'll try again.

    1. When I first started with things as meditation, I couldn't get my mind to shut up either. I found though that as I kept trying, I did succeed in eliminating the mind chatter. Perhaps the mind is like a muscle that can be trained too ;-)

      The thing with yoga is that I worry (here we go - the worry habit kicking in) I will be getting stressed when I can't assume a certain pose straight away, thereby completely undoing the benefits of the whole thing. But I guess I should take my own words to heart: you won't know until you try!


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