I’m back in yoga, baby.
I just had to start this post out that way, so for at least a couple of nanoseconds, you might think I was cool, tall and thin, very bendy, and calm all the time. The truth is, I’m in a class called GENTLE YOGA, which is Hindi for REMEDIAL OLD PEOPLE EXERCISE CLASS. There are lots of water breaks and we’re not asked to do anything more strenuous than lean forward but not too far and only with your doctor’s permission.
I’ve done yoga off and on for a while, but had taken a long break because I was able to come up with enough excuses as to why I had to skip yoga and stay home and play Freecell for two hours on Friday mornings. I was guilted into going back to it by my friend Julie, who said her New Year’s resolution was to lead a more “deliberate life.” (Thanks ever so much, Julie. My gaming skills are for crap now.) So I decided to get back into sweats and work on some things of my own.
Besides reintroducing my body and my mind to one another (they had a little falling out, broke up and agreed to work on some personal problems before making a commitment), I spend part of the the yoga class trying to keep myself from farting, falling asleep and crying.
I’m not so worried about the farting. I know that as I get older, though, that will become a problem. Years ago, I went to Senior Citizen yoga with a friend of mine who taught the class. She assured me it wasn’t Senior Citizen yoga, but because it was all senior citizens who signed up, it was for all intents and purposes, Senior Citizen yoga.
“Come on! Come with me! You’ll love it!” she said. I was only 41 and I could have been the granddaughter of the people in the class. I realize now that she just wanted to turn the tide of the class turning into Senior Citizen yoga. Much like the owner of a bar that is becoming a gay bar will try to stack it with straight people. (Lesson here: You can’t manipulate these things. They have a life of their own.)
At first I loved Senior Citizen Yoga, because I felt like a hottie. I was the only one who had abs and whose boobs did not reach her knees. But then we got to the shoulder-stand pose and other positions where everybody’s digestive systems were being turned upside down and the farting started.
My problem is not holding farts in; it’s holding laughter in. So the class was 45 minutes of stress and stomach-muscle clenching for me. I didn’t exhale for whole sitar-wooden flute solos for fear I would laugh out loud at one of the farting senior citizens and alienate myself from the class and all old people.
Falling asleep is a bigger problem for me. Yoga is so darn relaxing. Add to that the gentleness of Gentle Yoga and -- hoo boy, it’s nap time for me. My teacher has a very soothing New Jersey accent (Yes, that is possible) and she turns out the lights. Once I think I did actually fall asleep, because when I opened my eyes, everyone else was in a warrior pose and I was lying on my side with my leg draped over the mat next to me.
And then there’s crying. I know, you must be thinking, what the hell is the matter with her? Who cries in yoga? Well, when the Gentle Yoga teacher is trying to get us to relax and become one with the universe, she sometimes says things like, “Take anything you’re worried about and make peace with it and then be done with it. Just put it aside.” Sometimes she gets more specific and suggests that we think of someone else who might benefit from being a little bit more one with the universe and I start thinking about all the middle school kids who are sitting alone at the lunch table and - well, let’s just say stifling sobs is no way to get your body ready for eternal bliss with your chakras all lined up.
There are all kinds of specialty yoga classes now - Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Integral Yoga, - but did you know there is a Laughter Yoga? I did not until recently. I have no idea what it is, but here are some quotes from the Web site: “Laughter yoga gave my life new meaning.” “Laughter yoga reduced my pain of rheumatism.” “Laughter yoga and tapping helped in panic attacks and depression.” The instructions cost $135, which I don’t have. Here’s the sales pitch: “This kit is for everyone who wants to understand the basic concept and philosophy of Laughter Yoga and what happens in a Laughter Yoga session. You can also learn the techniques of how to laugh all by yourself.” (And tapping? Will we learn how to do that all by ourselves, too?)
I don’t know why anyone would spend $135 to learn how to laugh when they could just sign up for Senior Citizen Yoga and wait for everyone to start bending in half.
When Diane Laney Fitzpatrick is not one with the universe, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Labels: laughter yoga, senior citizen yoga, yoga