Years ago, I hurt my back. I went to the doctor and he asked me how I did it. Strangely enough, I had no clue. I just woke up and could barely get out of bed. He determined that I must have pulled a muscle and suggested that I try Yoga. I made an appointment.
I arrived at my first class and my senses were immediately assaulted by an overwhelming scent. I looked around and found the source - an incense burner. I quickly identified the smell as Patchouli.
If you’ve never smelled Patchouli, I can’t begin to describe it. It’s one of those fragrances that you either love or hate. I happen to despise it. My brother, on the other hand, can’t burn enough of it. I remember walking into his apartment once, and had to leave because I felt like I was drowning, the air was so thick. He just rolled his eyes.
After regaining my equilibrium, I looked around the room. I should have realized that this wasn’t going to end well. I was the only one wearing a girdle underneath my leotard.
Then I noticed a tall, rail-thin girl coming my way. She was like a bubbly version of Twiggy, and was all of 20 years old - if that. But she was really sweet, and she made me feel welcome. She even asked if I’d like to be in the front row. I’m sure she figured that due to my advancing years, I’d be able to see her more easily. I just thought, no, Twiggy, I don’t want the rest of the class to see my well-padded rear end in all its glory. It would be like showing the class a before and after picture and yes, I would definitely be the before.
My peppy instructor introduced herself as Sarah. This put me in mind of the makers of tender, delicious, and fattening frozen cakes. All I could think about was Sarah turning into a double layer chocolate cake made with real whipped cream and topped with decadent chocolate icing. I mentally drooled like Homer Simpson. It took all my resolve to put the vision out of my mind and not lunge at her for a nibble.
We began, and she told us to stretch our arms up in the air, a move called the “Salutation to the Sun.” I was beginning to think this wasn’t going to be nearly as difficult as I’d thought. I happily stretched my arms up in the air and covertly looked around to see if anyone was impressed by my reach. Unfortunately, all eyes were on Sarah.
Next, she told us to take a deep breath. Again, I was thinking this isn’t going to be nearly as bad as I had feared. Just as that thought flittered through my mind, she instructed us to exhale, and slowly bend over to touch your toes. Whaatt??
The odds of that happening were about the same as turning a Bengal tiger into a vegetarian.
I looked around and saw a room full of skinny people dressed in skin-tight leotards with their noses pressed against their knees. I hunched down and kept watching the class, waiting for them to begin their ascent. I quickly mimicked doing the same. They looked at each other and said things like, “that felt great.” I began inching my way toward the door.
Another muscle-defying pose later, I yet again pretended to be doing it. Sarah, bless her heart, must have seen my distress. She said to no one in particular, although everyone in the room knew who she was talking to, that it’s OK if we can’t do the pose. She instructed us to do what we were comfortable with.
At that point, I was comfortable with identifying, and using, the exit.
What I really wanted to do was make a hasty retreat before any of my lithe classmates could stop me with peppy, encouraging words. Sadly, the stretch was over before I could get out.
Still, I managed to inch a little closer to the door.
The next stretch had us lying on the floor, with our hands clutching our ankles behind us. I should amend that, the others were clutching their ankles behind themselves. I was on the floor staring at the carpet, wondering when the last time it was vacuumed and making a mental note to vacuum mine when I got home.
By the time the class was over, I’d managed to inch myself next to the door. I was almost free, when Sara/Twiggy/Task Master asked how I enjoyed the class. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, I smiled and lied that it was wonderful. Before she could engage me again, I showed athletic prowess that I didn’t know I had.
I bolted out the door with amazing speed. In my mind, I was imagining the entire class chasing after me like a herd of Yoga Zombies with me as a speeding gazelle avoiding being dinner.
I finally got home, where Matt took one look at my face and silently went back to working his crossword puzzle. Being married so long, he didn’t have to ask me anything. In fact, he didn’t bring the class up for weeks.
Fast forward to now, life once again proves that it has a sense of humor. Matt and the kids are learning Yoga, and the girls are actually very good at it. I’ve even been incorporating some of the moves into my own workout. It’s still difficult, but if you keep working at it, it’s supposed to get a little easier and I’m trying.
Besides, I do a mean “Salutation to the Sun.” I’ll get around to those other poses one day. Just as soon as I meet a vegetarian Bengal tiger.
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