Thursday, January 27, 2011

The yoga project begins

Yesterday was Day One of our yoga project.

First, let me offer a few reassurances. This is not going to be another streak. No one has yet tried to convince me that there’s any inherent value in doing yoga 365 days a year for decades on end. Nor is there a national association like the one I belong to for runners, only dedicated to people who do yoga every single day instead of run. Plus “yoga streak” just sounds weird.

And one final reassurance: no matter how well or poorly the Yoga Project goes, I won’t write a memoir about it.

Okay, maybe that last reassurance was a little bit rash. After all, it’s been ten weeks since I finished my last book and I’m starting to feel a little desperate for a topic for the next one. But I can promise that right now, the plan is not to write a book about trying to make yoga a family activity.

Yoga had been on my radar for a long time. My mother taught yoga back in the 1970s in our garage. By today’s standards, that sounds almost like an oxymoron: “Inhale deeply, while trying at the same time to avoid breathing in the gasoline fumes.” But back then, she was cutting-edge. In fact, a former neighbor said to me recently, “Isn’t it funny how your mom was ahead of everyone else on the yoga thing?”

More recently, several of my friends have become highly committed to yoga – one close friend’s husband even referred to her as a “yoga nun” at one point – and my sister is an avid practitioner as well. All of them urged me to give it a closer look, but like many runners, I have trouble equating physical wellness with anything that doesn’t involve peak heart rate (and I realize that some yoga does involve peak heart rate, but not usually the beginner’s kind).

And, of course, there’s always NPR telling me what I should be thinking about. In the past month, I’ve heard no less than three NPR interviews with Claire Dederer, author of the newly published Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses. The fact that I listened to all three interviews while out running did not in any way lessen the nagging feeling that this was something I should probably be doing along with everyone else.

I thought it would be hard to find the time, but two factors I hadn’t counted on dovetailed to obviate that issue. First of all, I realized that at least in the early dabbling phases, I didn’t actually have to drive anywhere to do yoga; I could try it out with the comfort of my own DVD player. (Having to drive anywhere is usually enough of a deterrent to me to kill any plan whatsoever.) And second, when I asked the kids if they were interested in trying it, they said possibly. So it didn’t have to mean I was taking time away from something with them.

The kids wanted to start right away, and I hadn’t made it up to the library to check out some yoga DVDs as I’d hoped to (because that would have meant driving somewhere). So we checked out our Netflix streaming options. There were two choices: basic yoga and yoga to treat depression. I suspected either would be fine but we went with the basic.

And for our first day, I was pleased. All three of us started out together. Tim and I both got the giggles a few times trying to understand the video instructor’s French accent as well as some of her instructions (“Did she just say ‘Relax your face?’” Tim asked at one point.) Holly stepped on her own toe and decided to sit on the sidelines for the rest of the workout, but she watched patiently for the next 35 minutes. There were a lot of poses I didn’t expect to be able to do until I tried them. When it was over, Tim and I both felt a little bit groggy but none the worse for wear.

So we’re going to try to stay with it. Not every day, but a few times a week. Today I finally made it up to the library and checked out three different yoga DVDs. “Good luck with the yoga!” the librarian said as she scanned the discs. “Oh, it’s for the kids; it’s something they want to do,” I said. She smiled knowingly.

I’m not sure why my instinct was to hide my yoga project from her. I guess I just need a little more time to see how it pans out. I expected to wake up this morning with sore muscles, though, and nothing hurts a bit. It’s taken me years to believe that I can actually do something physical that doesn’t involve aerobic target zones and pounding the pavement, but I’m ready to try. So is Tim, and Holly plans to join us again as well.

No books about it, I promise. Or almost promise, anyway. Blog posts, of course, are a whole other story.

No comments:

Post a Comment