(Written in Anjuna, March 14th)
I’m starting to really like this yoga thing. I know it’s all very trendy, and probably very pretentious to come to India and take up yoga, but hey, it’s fun. And it’s on offer everywhere, and usually pretty cheap, so what the hell. I’ve done it sporadically at home, but it’s a lot more fun on a shady outdoor platform in Indian sunshine than in the back corner of some gym somewhere.
I walked to the Brahmani Yoga Centre yesterday, just outside Anjuna. As the class started at 2 pm, I was walking in the hottest part of the day; that 45 minutes felt a lot longer. (Maybe this is why no one seems to walk in Anjuna; everyone bums around on scooters or motorcycle taxis.)
But it was worth it, in the end. The pleasant Swiss-French instructor Sondra is a bit of a nomad; she spends “the season” teaching in Goa (October to March, or thereabouts), and spends the rest of the year working variously in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia. From the sounds of it, she hasn’t lived in Europe in years, preferring to spend her time wandering Asia and teaching yoga.
This class was a three-hour “Yoga for Women”, designed to give women yoga routines to help them cope with common physical ailments. Migraine, for example, or fatigue and insomnia, or painful menstruation. (Boys, I swear, that’s all I’m going to mention about that last one, so you don’t need to get grossed out.)
Whether or not any of it actually works, I don’t know. But I’ll have to give the routines a shot the next time I have a migraine, or when it’s “that time of the month” and the cramps are so terrible that I’d prefer to actually die. (It has gotten better with age; when I was much younger, I used to have nausea and vomiting along with the cramps. At least there’s some benefits to getting old!)
I think I have to keep this up when I get home. I really enjoyed my beginner yoga course in Varkala, and the occasional classes I’ve done since (most of them not hours-long like this workshop!). I haven’t yet managed to put my ankles behind my ears, or hold a headstand unassisted by the support of the instructor or a wall, but I’m ever so slightly closer. And I can usually get the crow posture now (rest your knees on your elbows and balance yourself on your hands only), and can occasionally even get my heels to the floor during downward dog. Baby steps.
This could be the perfect complement to running, actually. I hate to stretch, normally, so I give it the shortest possible attention after finishing a run, really just enough to make sure I can still walk the next day. But not stretching enough has really hindered my flexibility; I was never able to do the splits, but I never used to be quite so embarrassingly stiff as I am now.
I’d like to change that. So if I run, and then do yoga, that could be perfect. I probably won’t join a gym again immediately after I get home; finances will dictate otherwise for a while. But I can run for free, as long as I have the gear, and since I’ve already told people I’m going to do the Toronto marathon in the fall I’d really better get on that. And there are yoga courses all over the city, from the expensive trendy places on Queen West to the free sessions at Lululemon stores. So I’m sure I can find something that works.
So, new plan, after my yoga reality check ... by this time NEXT year, I’ll be the chick who can put her ankles behind her head.