Branching Out

Posted: March 12, 2011 in Yoga
Tags: ,

As I child I remember seeing two Hare Krishna’s waiting at a downtown bus stop.  My grandmother (who I was traveling with at the time) explained to me that these bald-headed weirdoes’s did a lot of chanting and practiced something called yoga.  I, of course, assumed it was some sort of martial art.  Of course, these guys weren’t ninja’s and grandma knew nothing about Hindu scripture, or yoga for that matter, but that was always my first frame of reference.  Since then I have associated yoga with these same spiritual loony tunes you see skulking about bus stations and community ‘Healing Centers’ and I avoid them at all cost.  One minute you’re giving them a quarter and the next thing you know you’re dancing around in a top-knot and sandals, so walking into an actual yoga studio was like walking directly into Ground Zero as far as I was concerned.

It was with some minor trepidation then that I decided recently to take advantage of a current ‘Teacher Certification’ program and sit in (literally) on a few different classes at the Yoga by Sara studio here in St. Catharines and my nerves are simply all a-twitter. What do I do? Where do I go?  Who do I see? What do I say? Will I know anybody there? What do I do with my shoes?  Do I change clothes there?  Should I brush my teeth or try to squeeze out any potential farts?  Will there be chanting or whale songs?  Will I be forced to make important life-altering decisions like ‘are you on the bus or off the bus?’ Are they going to monkey with my chakra or try to polish my aurora or something?  Oh God, what if they try to hug me?

The first session I decided to try was the Hatha class – a very slow, restorative from of yoga.  It is intended to be a slow-paced stretching class with some simple breathing exercises and perhaps seated meditation. Sounds like a good place to learn the basic poses, relaxation techniques, and become comfortable with yoga, right?  When I first arrived, I was pleasantly greeted by a cute spandex-clad goddess with buns you could crack walnuts on and politely instructed to leave my jacket, sweat pants, shoes, etc. in the foyer and was escorted to the Prana room after signing the necessary release forms.  Now let’s get one thing straight, when they say ‘get cozy’ in Hatha they really mean it!  I was immediately kitted out with different sized blocks, blankets, and bolsters (which are really just the yoga version of a throw pillow) with which to get comfortable.  It was like lying around in a Turkish orgy room.  For the next 70 minutes or so we stretched out and reclined and I dry-humped a pillow in plain view of a dozen or so yoga hunnies.  Total party, people.

I certainly found it to be relaxing enough and I enjoyed the stillness if not the random plinks and plunks of the background harp music.  I will even consider doing this Hatha thing again, like, once a month or after a big event maybe.  But where it was nice to go slow for a change, over all, the snail-like pace was pure agony and as far as stimulating workouts go, this felt more like naptime.  I was waiting for warm glasses of milk to be passed around.  Fortunately, I did get an opportunity to stretch out my hips and back, my bowels remained in check and I left as dry as I had arrived so the class was a rousing success in my mind.

The next class that captured my attention was the Hot Vinyasa class.  Oh boy – time to get sweaty!  Where I’m new to all this meditative asanas hocus pocus – sweat I understand.  Sweat I’m good with…or so I thought.  It has been claimed that the heat is to simulate the effects of doing yoga in India.  I don’t know how reliable that little info-nugget is as I’d also expect they’d probably get you to drink contaminated river water and then lock the bathroom door if they really wanted to simulate an authentic Indian experience, but I digress.  I think it’s just more Sandskrit for ‘suffer’.  Apparently,  Vinyasa translates literally as ‘breath-synchronized movement’. In Vinyasa-style yoga classes, poses will flow from one to another in conjunction with the breath, with the obvious modification that the room will also be heated to about a thousand degrees.  I love my ‘Sun Salutations’ as much as the next person, but performing them in a room about as hot as its surface is a little much.  I was originally a little nervous as I already sweat like the pig who knows he’s dinner just mere minutes into a workout, and doing it in a heated room crammed with three dozen other warm, sweaty bodies is going to produce, well, rather soggy results.  Factor in the ever-present chance of an unsuspecting fart being launched into the environs and you now have the perfect recipe for disaster – its ‘Yoga by Sara’ meets Jonestown.

To say that I merely ‘sweated’ throughout the class would be a disservice to the entire bodily secretion process – I leaked, I discharged, I dripped, I expunged, I pooled, I absolutely poured forth…you get the idea.  I was a total yoga tsunami and by the time I emerged from the studio I looked like a well done Christmas ham.  I had soaked through my shirt, my shorts…everything.  In fact, you could say that I learned what not to wear to a Hot Vinyasa class judging by my completely saturated clothes.  I ultimately enjoyed the experience but I’m not sure if I enjoyed emerging from the studio feeling like Free Willy.  But considering that I need to make peace with the heat and humidity this year if I’m going to survive the Cancun 70.3, attending one of these sessions every so often might not be a bad idea.

Next time, however, I’m going to strap dozens of sponges to my body instead.  Either that, or I will need to find something decent to wear.  I can see there is a never-ending array of cute yoga crap for girls, but what do dudes wear?  I’ve browsed shops a little bit and if I can get past Cyndi Lauper’s ‘True Colors’ on the in-store stereo system I’ve discovered that yoga clothes in general are very expensive.  Sure they look and feel awesome and all but, $59.99, are you fucking serious?  I’d have to do a lifetime of Svanasana poses before I ever managed to get over the stress of spending that kind of money on a pair of ordinary khakis shorts.

If somebody can recommend me a safe ‘dude-friendly’ place to shop for yoga stuff, it would be very much appreciated; preferably a place that doesn’t have a woman’s name attached to it. What do you think my chances are of finding a ‘Tony’s Tattoo & Yoga Emporium near by?

  1. Heather Jones says:

    Hey. True dat. Yoga clothes ARE expensive. But, you know, when doing hot or powerful classes – the fact that lululemon and some other brands don’t ride up where they aren’t meant to go and are so body conforming that we don’t have to fight against our clothes when we sweat our brains out – make them a good investment. Nothing beats the fit. So – you get one or two items you love and take good care of them. Or – you purchase on eBay!
    Failing that – Marks Work Wearhouse sometimes has some not-so-bad yoga clothes for cheaper. For me, the fit tends to be a little on the large/baggy side, but I’ve repeatedly purchased things for yoga there and been happy all in all.
    Or – apparently there are nudist yoga camps right here in our fair province. I’m personally totally freaked out by that but, hey, whatever floats your Navasana.

    Just keep yoga-ing! 🙂

    • Thanks Heather~! I’m going to check out Mark’s as I pass by there all the time on my way t the gym (I never would have thought of that). I understand the whole comfy fit issue but, truthfully, my body is changing so rapidly that what fits me well now will inevitably be too big in another 3-4 months so I will keep the Lulu-lemon threads in mind for when I start flat-lining on the weight loss front.

      Oh, and as for naked yoga…I’m far too insecure for anything like that. LOL!

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