Saturday, May 9, 2015

Breathing Backward and other Yoga Missteps

I've sort of taken up kind of practicing yoga by taking classes several times ... well at least once ... a week, most weeks.  I'm almost always in a class consisting primarily of women - most of them within a decade of my age (no ingenues, in other words.)  Our teacher is a delightfully upbeat elf who looks barely out of her teens but I'm told is over forty. She speaks softly in the way one would expect a yoga teacher to intone, no Zumba shouts here.

Softly - there's the problem.  Even with my trusty electronic assistants, hearing her clearly is an issue.  That's partly because I turn the hearing aids low so they don't make noise when I'm lying with one or the other ear to the mat.  So, I don't hear every detail of her instructions, maybe not many of them.  I compensate by peeking at my neighbors to see what pose they are in.  Sometimes I have to average them and go with the one most are attempting.  Sometimes I miss altogether and become somewhat unique in my poses.

Please understand, I really enjoy yoga, but I have to subdue the 'guy' in me in order to continue.  Before you misunderstand what I mean by that, let me tell you it's the genetic competitiveness that makes guys try to do more than they're capable of in a physical activity visible to more than just themselves.  I can't explain it, but every guy knows it in his heart, even if he's unwilling to admit to it.

That said, I have accepted the fact that: my knees will never be closer than twelve inches above the mat with my legs crossed; my arms shake when holding Downward Facing Dog; there's no chance I'm ever going to execute Tree pose without assistance from a wall or perhaps a rope hung from the ceiling.

What I discovered during my last Gentle Yoga class, was that I was breathing backward! I caught her words when returning us to the neutral position "Inhale back to center."  I was exhaling!  You know how hard it is to switch to inhale in the midst of exhale? Don't try it at home. I managed to get in sync by hurrying a couple of breaths and found the rhythm, but then I was paying so much attention to breathing when and how I was supposed to, that I forgot about averaging poses.

It all eventually worked out - until Savasana - my favorite pose, although I shorten the approach to the pose to a simple collapse rather than follow the minutiae in the link.

Our teacher had placed chairs in front of each of us while we were involved in some pose on our back (we're supposed to have our eyes closed most of the time and this time I did.)  She told us we would be doing Chair Savasana to end the session, so I promptly sat in the chair.  When I looked around, everyone was lying down with their legs on the seat.  I adapted quickly and our lovely, gentle yogini gave no indication that she even noticed my mistake as she placed multiple pads on the seat so my legs rested at a right angle as I lay on my mat, knees bent, trying my best to become invisible.