Friday, January 23, 2009


It's official: I broke up with yoga at my gym.


Listen to me: I like yoga – a lot. But I do not like doing hard work on a no workout day. I’m sorry yoga if you cannot understand that but you were hurting me.

The break up happened last Friday. Friday is my day off. No workout day. “Recovery”. Oh, that. So on Friday, Chris, my mom and I headed to the usual yoga class. Each week we noticed the room getting a little colder, the moves getting a little harder and the fun factor going down.

And down, and down, descending your heels towards the mat.

Enter last week. We were in the back of the room as to hide far from the instructor to avoid being watched, touched or yogaed in any other way. If I don’t like being touched, my mom doesn’t like being looked at. She’s a tough one to crack. Chris? He just likes being close to the mirrors.

The class progressed through a series of moves that left my inner thighs on fire and a deep hatred in my open yoga heart for one more damn downward dog. In other words, it hurt. It wasn’t fun. I was overstretched and shaky. At one point I just sat on the mat. I was trapped. The back corner is a great place to hide – unless you want to escape. Then it becomes a cold prison cell and all you have is your little blue mat for your safe place.

“I’m so cold.”

My mom and I exchanged eye rolls and seated defeat. If I knew my mom, I knew she was thinking what I was thinking – get me out of this class. But there were still 30 minutes to go. I ask you - why does it have to be 95 minutes long? And where is the music? I’m tired of hearing people breathe and the chatter in my head. Seems like every class I go to you suffer in the heavy quiet of the room. What about some Zero 7. Shawn Gallaway. Amel Larrieux? Ok at the very least…Enya?

I need some tunes to fade away…

No such luck unless you count Crazy Train blasting through the walls from the spin room next door.

So here’s the problem. I really like yoga. I like what it’s about. The whole prana, dharma, chakras – I’m into it. I like stretching and all that other shit you do when you’re barefoot, relaxed and on a mat. I like the smell of lavender. I enjoy the clash of a gong.

But I don’t like Fitness Yoga. In fact it sort of offends me that the word Fitness is in front of Yoga but I guess this is what I get for doing yoga at a gym. Does everything have to be so damn hard? Do we have to burn calories in everything we do to make it worth it? What’s wrong with just quieting our minds and stretching? Why does it have to be a fitness activity? And why do the instructors seem to get flexible pleasure from torturing us with 100 forward folds, 90 downward dogs, 80 lunges, 70 chutturunga or whatever the hell that is just tell me what you want me to do without speaking in code, 60 reverse bridges (I do not reverse that way) and…..there was just a lot of stuff crammed into those 95 minute and we did it all really, really fast.


Since when did yoga get so attention deficit? Seems to be apropos for everything that happens in our world. It can’t just be “yoga” it has to be YOGA EXTREME! AH! I want to hide under the mat. Save me: Is there a yoga out there that moves at a slower pace? Because I think I finally found my sport where I need to be in the slow group. Well, other than masters. But the pool isn’t “real” doesn’t really count. Right now I need to walk my yoga miles. I need training wheels. I can’t keep up with everyone else.

And what’s with all the props? Have you realized in life that we cannot just simply go somewhere empty handed? We have to have our water bottle, our iPhone, our safety bag filled with things we need just in case – like chapstick, a million cards to save 10 cents on paper towels or get a “reward point” for spending “our” money at a store. Huh? I looked around the class and realized each person had a small island chain of props surrounding their main island – the yoga mat. There were: 2 blocks, a water bottle, a belt, a “bolster” (still don’t get the point of this one…), a blanket and their shoes. And gym locker key. Their socks. If there was anything else they’d have to pay a daily rate for occupancy.

You heard me right – I am asking yoga to slow the pace. Back the pace down. Quit moving along at FTP and cruise at 50% LT watts instead. In life, I don’t think there are many things I wish would slow down. I feel like my thoughts have a V02max of 80 pushing out 4:08 miles. If only I was actually built like that. But that’s just how my mind moves….and I thought yoga would help it slow down. Except yoga started doing 800 repeats on the track. In between 200s of downward dogs. Is it so wrong that I want this to be the one activity each week where I can take my time?

I was wrong. Proven by the fact that all of the other adults in the room older than me, possibly less fit were kicking my ass at Fitness Yoga. The guy breathing really loud in the front of the room? He didn’t need a block. The woman twice my age? Did not sit down cross-legged in defeat. Just me. And my mom – but she’s always had my back like that.

So I’m not going this week. I’m moving on to solo practice for now until I can get myself up to speed. I’m going to turn the lights off in the house, light a few candles, crank the heat up to 72 and put Simple Things by Zero 7 on auto repeat. I’ll do moon salutations at my own pace and tell myself to take deep belly breaths.

No gym necessary.



cat. said...

go to a restorative yoga class. can't promise they'll play music, but you will probably fall asleep as you lay on the floor with you your legs against the wall.

stacey said...

You might try (1)Kimberly Fowler's YOGA for ATHLETES® DVD and/or (2)FLEXIBLE WARRIOR ATHLETIC YOGA, Yoga for Triathletes Vol.1. Both are designed for athletes to stretch what we need stretched and you can do them at home!

lisa said...

It's hard to find the right many interpretations of yoga out there these days! But don't give up, your match is out there! (personally, i keep coming back to Bikram, which is not for everyone, but one of the nice thing is that the series of poses does not change, so you know what you're in for!)

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Great post Liz - I agree. We need to slow down, to relax - life doesn't (and shouldn't) always be about goingfast! or pushingthrough! - relaxation is key. Enjoy your own yoga practice, minus the other people and all their stuff. As Rob would say - just "breathe". :)

Kim said...

Maybe try some Hatha yoga??

ADC said...

I always thought that yoga should be about relaxing and "quieting your mind". Not hard work.

BriGaal said...

You have totally captured my relationship with yoga over the years - wanting to like it, forcing myself to go to class, hating most of it, feeling bad that I hate it, etc.

We got a free copy of Sage Rountree's Athlete's Guide to Yoga DVD and it seems very good...if I only could get myself to do it.

Eisparklz said...

i felt the same way about bikram and hell on earth yoga until i found a friday afternoon bliss hour. it's called kundalini yoga and everything is slow, grounded and relaxing. i hope you can find something similar.

Meredith said...

I am with you on some level as well..While I do enjoy moving moving moving most days, I tend to work extremely hard to keep up with people 30yrs my senior while downward-dogging.....Though I have a simple philosophy that I imploy: If I am paying (fill in the pricey cose of one yoga class here), I want to get something good out of it!!!!

Jill said...

I've always hated fitness yoga. It is right up there with pilayo and yogalates. I have really liked astanga yoga because it is really athletic and fast moving but it really is hard to find an instructor who is a. reasonably priced b. as well trained in the spiritual side of yoga as they are with the fitness side.

Wes said...

I love the extreme version of Yoga in the P90X series, but it is a definite workout day for me. I can't wait until I'm done with this so I too can use yoga for cross training and stretching, hopefully a kinder gentler version as well...