I originally penned this in 2008 as my yoga journey was unfolding. A lighter look at the practice.
As I have shared with many of you over the last few months, I have discovered the San Francisco past time of choice – yoga, Scary but true, it even has me spending more time at the studio in downward dog and less time sabreing champagne bottles at bars.
And while my interest may be newly discovered, it seems the well known joke “how do you find a yoga studio in your area? Just follow the patchouli tracks!” is certainly alive and well, as countless windowless, wooden floored retail spaces are converted into zen spaces for meditation and practice; owned by people who are named Harmony and Ashtala... clearly San Francisco in the 60s was a place of free love and grass!
Growing up in a family where basketball and physical exercise was a regular part of life, reconciling myself how lying on a six-foot rubber mat with your arms wide and legs splayed open could be considered exercise, was always going to be a challenge to this young lass.
Needless to say, with six months of classes under my belt (or bolster) have me actually bending and twisting in newfound ways. With pose names like “upward dog”, “baby cobra”, “crow” and “frog” sometimes it feels like you are more at home in a wildlife park than in an “OM” inspired studio.
So here’s a few tips for those of you inspired to channel your inner yogi:
The studio is a great way to meet new people, but being immersed in the LGBT community, my friends are primarily straight single gals, so guys, if you’re willing to don the shorts and can cope with a group of fit, hot chicks all breathing heavily for an hour dressed in tight fitting tops and short pants, this may well be the past time for you! (and it’s a heck of a lot easier to explain on your credit card bill than some other past times of the above-mentioned scenario).
For those of you even considering it? Turning up for yoga with a hangover is never EVER a good idea - not only do people not need to smell last night’s mohitos sweating from your skin, but more so, you tend to fall over in any position in which your head is lower than your elbows…
For those of you who have ever become hooked on a pastime or sport, you also know how the obsession to push harder, get faster, own the better or bigger equipment takes over – all of which goes against the yogic way of life; so don’t!
My advice? Get yourself a good mat that’s super sticky, unravel it and drag it through numerous parks, gravel driveways, or maybe give it to the dog to chew to instill an immediate illusion of your tenure in the yogi world – that is, until you land in a face plant after failing to negociate your way out of Warrior 1 pose.
People don’t really drink alcohol (GASP!) and in fact, going to get a drink “after the game” normally consists of a choice between organic white tippy leaves, chai with soy or some other lassi-inspired beverage. However there is nothing in the yogic way of life that says you can’t slip open a quiet beer as a reward when you land home – after all, you are rewarding yourself for doing the practice right!?
Finally, if it gets difficult, it is absolutely fine for you to stop. Never in another sport has my instructor / coach / leader praised me for listening to my body or told me they think I’ve gone far enough, so “child’s pose” is a great way to get out of really hard positions – mind you, there’s almost have a sense of guilt as you lay there eyes closed dreaming about your dinner.
Like any good sport, don’t eat just before class – I have witnessed first hand the outcome of this experiment, and trust me, there is only one thing less desirable than being next to a hung-over person sweating hard liquor, and that’s someone who needs to dash to the restroom to re-live their curry dinner…
So there you go – six top tips to get you on the path to pretzel posing and hand standing your way through life.
And for those girls looking to improve their dating scenario? Improved hip flexibility and inner leg strength are benefits they don’t tout in the booklets, which of course helps in all manner of intimate positions… So be warned if your significant other starts buying you 10 class cards!
Trust everyone is well, as we head into Summer (which really is Winter in San Francisco) I hope everyone is well and looking after the place in my absence!