I’ve had a real beef with yoga for many years now. If you’re going to have a beef with something, it seems like yoga shouldn’t be it. But, there you have it anyway.
I have run half marathons and a full marathon, trained muay thai in a fight club, boxed in demonstration matches, and lifted heavy things in the gym (and then put them back down). I have climbed and kicked and hit and pushed and pulled and thrown and jumped; and nothing makes me rage-ier than yoga. I don’t know why, although I have a good guess.
My current working theory is that I’m a rage-y lemon with a very thick rind (thick enough to appear fine on the outside). All the twisting squeezes it out.
Just about every year since my early 20’s I’ve given myself a dare project: trips, art classes, writing projects, music making (The only reason you’ve ever heard any of my music is because I dared myself to do it.), fitness challenges, job quitting and taking... I didn’t really know why I was doing these things at first, other than simple curiosity. I wanted to know what life was like outside of my bubble. But with time, I began to see these projects make aging easier.
My current perspective (I say current, understanding this may change…) is that aging is easier when you have something to look forward to (other than the deaths of everyone you know and the slow-to-rapid deterioration of every single one of your parts. High five!). I always have something to look forward to because I give myself something to look forward to.
I don’t know a lot about much, but one thing I know is that personal fulfillment is a largely solo effort. It's nobody else's job but yours, even if you're married. You can help others and accept help. You can invite others along for the shared joy, and you can accept others’ invitations for the same reason; but, ultimately, if you wait for someone else to zing you around and fill you up, you might as well get comfortable on your couch.
I’m going to Iceland in August. I’m going whale watching because I’ve always wanted to, never have, and it’s time. So there’s that. But mostly I’ve wanted another physical challenge. My knees say no more running. My absolutely zero desire to be kicked in the face in a lake or pool says no triathlons. Crossfit...eh, maybe later. I picked yoga.
I started a yoga class this week. We do things like chant “om” and put blocks on our heads; and I haven’t cracked a single inappropriate joke. I didn’t expect to be sore, but I am. I also didn’t expect to cry, but I did, lying there on my back at the end of my first class in a room full of strangers. I don’t know what anything is called, and I don’t really care what anything is called, but when the instructor told us to feel our own heaviness and stay there, some of my insides bubbled out around my eyeballs.
I don’t know what happened to all that rage, but it appears to be gone or in a coma. By class #2, I felt genuine kinship with the woman next to me, even though she was a really loud breather and her tank top was unnecessarily bright.
I left class at the same time as another woman. We both squinted into the sun. She smiled at me and said something about something. I don’t remember what. I was too distracted by how kind her face was, and how kind her words felt, and how good everything ultimately was, even when it wasn't. That seemed like enough.
Anyway. That’s what I’m doing lately. I had more to say about “om” and the act of singing and that maybe singing already squeezed out some rage; but this is long enough, and I don’t feel like writing anymore. And you know what else I’m learning in my yoga class? If you don’t feel it, stop doing it.