Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Makings of a Yogi?

I figured out that I was in over my head (literally and figuratively) when the instructor had us doing headstands about 5 minutes into the two-hour class.  When a few minutes after that, he had us attempting the crow posture (rest your knees on your elbows and balance yourself on your hands only), I was sure of it.

Yoga is offered everywhere in Varkala, second only to ayurvedic treatments as the tourist activity of choice.  I went to an 8 a.m. class today to check it out, trying to remember when I last went to yoga; certainly not since I've been off work, and (I think) not for a good chunk of time before that.

I had lovely notions of starting my lazy days on the beach with a gentle and restful yoga class, becoming all zen and grounded and in tune with the universe and my third eye, and whatever the hell else yoga is supposed to do for you.  The reality might have been a little different.

For one thing, I think I've lost any shred of flexibility I ever had (not that I had much to start with), what with all that running getting ready for the marathon a couple years ago and all the walking and hiking I've done this year.  Great cardiovascular workouts -- my lungs are in much better shape that they were and my legs have regained a lot of strength -- but not activities that do much for your flexiblity, unless you make a deliberate effort to stretch.  Since I hate stretching generally, I tend to avoid it even when I think of it, and I don't actually think of it that often.

So my hamstrings screamed in protest when I moved into downward dog during the sun salutation sequence, and my adductors/abductors (whichever are the ones on the outside of your hip) said "Oh, no, I don't THINK so!" when the instructor told us to put our ankles behind our heads and hold it.  I could get my foot moved slightly in the direction of my shoulder, but that was about it; my muscles were having none of it and just laughed at me.  My wrist (the one I broke at some point last year) didn't like me much either, and greatly objected to the amount of weight I was attempting to balance on it in some postures.

I was much more pleased by the triangle and warrior poses later on; even if I don't have a lot of flexibility, I have a fair amount of strength and I can hold those without shaking.  My abs aren't bad either (although until I decide to stop guzzling the Kingfishers, you won't actually be able to see my six-pack) and my back is pretty strong, so all the core exercises made me feel a little more competent too.

Just imagine if I did this every day, though.  I could come back from India as one of those pretzel-people who can casually lift her leg straight up over her head like it's actually meant to go that way.  That would be pretty cool.  I imagine it might make a good way to meet men, too; men always seem inordinately impressed by bend-y chicks.

Perhaps I'll start with the beginner yoga course, though.  The added bonus (on top of probably not having to do headstands or crow posture) is that it starts at 10 a.m., not 8.  So I can spend an hour or two on the beach first, when it's quiet and cooler and before the gawkers have come out to ogle.

Done.  You can find me in the yoga hut tomorrow at 10.  And every morning after that until I leave Varkala. And once I get home?  I'll be the chick who can put her ankles behind her ears.


  1. If you can put your ankles behind your ears when you come home, I'll be very impressed! :)
    but if you like the power side of yoga, you should check out when you are back, I've taken two classes with him recently and they are hard core (in a fun way!), and he teaches on Church St. And I recommend pigeon pose for your hips (it looks kinda silly, but I love pigeon pose..)

  2. Well, it might take more than a month of yoga to get me to the ankles-behind-ears stage, but I can dream. I like the sound of the Church St guy -- I'll have to check that out when I get home!

    p.s. I had to google pigeon pose to find out what it is -- turns out I know it, I just call it hurdler's stretch (from running club).