"What did the yogi say to the hot-dog vendor?"
"Make me one with everything"
Yoga? Me? Not bloody likely. Up until recently, when I thought of yoga , I conjured up people named "Moonbeam" and "Mudpuddle" singing "Kumbaya" while stretching and massaging one another’s colorful auras. No thanks. I don’t drink soy milk, I’d rather die than become a vegan, I can’t stand drum circles, and patchouli makes me retch.
Don’t let the degree from the University of Oregon fool you; I’m no hippie. Except when it comes to the music festivals, /cause they’re far out, man. Come High Sierra, I will be gallivanting barefoot, loving all my fellow Earth creatures, and may very well end up on the front page of passedoutwookie.com. But that’s neither here nor there.
What is both here and there is the fact that I don’t do touchy feely, I don’t own tights and New Age music causes me to break out in hives. Yoga is meant for Moonjava and Snowphish, not guys like me.
So when the girlfriend asked me if I would join her at Zuda Yoga, I said sure. For $10, you can go as many times as you want over a 10-day period. I figured she would drag me there at most three times, I’d get a little exercise, and maybe meet a pot dealer (medicinal, of course, my cat has glaucoma). When the 10 days were up, I’d thank the nice people at Zuda for their time and patience, and explain to them, and Jess, that "yoga just ain’t my thing."
I showed up Thursday morning, and everything was going according to plan. I exchanged pleasantries with the impossibly fit girl at the front desk. " ‘This is your first time? Oh, good for you!’ " she said, somehow seeming to mean it, without an iota of condescension. She handed me my mat — pink, of course — and directed me to take off my shoes and head in to the studio. " ‘You’re gonna want to grab a spot in the back so you can watch everyone else. Good luck!’ "
With these foreboding instructions rattling around in my head, I entered the belly of the beast. The room temp was a balmy 87 degrees. I sweat if I’m sitting motionless in 80 degrees, so I had a few forehead beads going even before the instructor arrived. When Kate did arrive, she scanned the room and asked " ‘Anyone here new to the class?’ " I and one other poor soul raised our hands. She was not sympathetic. She said something to the effect of " ‘Well, this is an all- levels course. Do your best to keep up.’ "
She had us get into child’s pose, a very basic prone pose that I’m sure I look ridiculous in. This was how I’d imagined it would be. Then, all of a sudden, everything changed. What followed was one of the most excruciating, exhilarating, wonderfully painful workouts I’ve ever had. Muscles shook, sweat poured, several times I nearly collapsed, once, I felt certain I was gonna puke.
It was awesome. It was gnarly. I was totally worked but totally invigorated. Chris, the assistant, told me it was probably the hardest class he’d been to. So I went back the next day, and got just as fantastically ruined. I’d been told that Kate was the toughest. Well, Danielle brought the pain as well. Just when you’re sure you can’t take any more, they get a little more out of you, and then a little more, and so on. I’m beginning to think that every class is "the hardest class."
Thursday will be my fourth class in a week, and I would have taken more if I hadn’t been out of town all weekend. Even so, I wanted to sneak in another class Saturday morning, which would have been three in a row, but muscles I didn’t even know I had were sore. It was like ghost limb syndrome, but achier and without prosthetics.
What started as a lark quickly has become something far more. This is the first time that I’ve looked forward to working out in nearly a decade. And then it was playing pickup hoops with a bunch of friends. This is the first time I’ve ever looked forward to a workout that didn’t involve friends and balls. Wait, that didn’t come out right.
What I’m trying to say is, if I can do it and become stoked on it, anybody can. For a $10 investment, I discovered a pastime that is enjoyable and immensely rewarding. I honestly can say that I feel better already, and it’s been less than a week. Also, if the parts about nearly collapsing and almost puking don’t appeal to you, I found out later that they do offer beginner classes. Otherwise, jump on in the deep end with me and Starbright. The water’s fine.
If you are interested: http://www.zudayoga.com/