Why I hate yoga

A couple years ago, a friend took me to hot yoga.

“Don’t worry – no one looks at you. They’re focused on themselves.”

Um, Not. Everyone looks around. I was the least fit person there and dressed all wrong. Most poses I could manage – for a few seconds. Only the person with a knee brace had more balance problems. Getting stuck in front ultimately turned out to be a gift because it was like, 108 degrees in there; I could get a gasp of air from the window the goonru had cracked open.

Ninety minutes later, drenched in sweat, I just wanted to get home. I didn’t want to wait for a shower. Yeah, not into the group locker room thing.

As I was leaving, the yogooni peppered me with questions, even as I backed away and started down the stairs.

“What did you think? Did you like it? You didn’t like it, did you? You have to try it a couple of times. Was it the heat? You get used to the heat. If you didn’t like it, we have other …”

Normally I can deal with abrasive New Yorkers, but I couldn’t get a word in. I was Zen mellow but needed to just get out of there.

“I got your number, buddy; I’ll call. Gotta go, see ya,” I should have said.

A year passed before I considered yoga again. A back injury had sidelined me. Now my chiropractor suggested a beginner yoga DVD.

“Guaranteed, do it four times. If you don’t like it, I’ll give your money back.”

“Sounds reasonable, I’ll try it.”

At home, I pop in the DVD. Awful music. I mute it. A girl writhes and swirls, lips puckered in a red pout, swishing her “I Dream of Jeannie” ponytail. She, of course, is stick-thin and wearing virtually nothing. Minutes pass. Give.Me.A.Break. I can’t watch this crap.

Next time I see the chiropractor, he asks about it.

“I hate it,” I tell him.

“What?!” He’s genuinely curious about what I didn’t like.

“Where do I even start? Annoying music – I don’t mind instrumental, but this made me wince. Can’t they have American music? A 94-pound girl wearing a Band-Aid, with her smug lipstick smile, swishing her stupid ponytail, batting her eyelashes … I mean, I get why they use a model, so you can see the pose, but I don’t want to look at perfect yoga body girl. I’m supposed to watch her meditate? Come on. Oh, and what’s with the chanting? I couldn’t finish.”

He assured me I need it, must watch it …

“Sometimes you have toxins in you, things bother you, blahblahblah,” his voice rose, and I know everyone in the waiting room heard.

“I’ll try again.”

A couple days go by. I’m motivated, ready to give it another chance. That music! I turn it down and do some stretches as she whirls like a dervish. It might be more appealing if it was a Hindi woman in traditional garb.

She sits on her powder puff yoga pillow – oh, I mean, she gracefully lowers herself. A saccharin-voiced man murmurs instructions on breathing and saying special words that will help you focus your mind, open your body.

“SAM I AM I AM SAM OM.”

No, no, it was, “SUT NAM SUM THING ” I think it means, “Stupid Americans don’t know what they’re saying.”

She breathes for a while. How long is this? I have to watch her breathe? Fast-forward. Oh, she’s doing something now. WHAT.Is.She.Doing?! Hyperventilating? “Breath of Fire,” smarmy guy says. That’s dumb. Fast-forward.

What the …? She’s belly dancing, seated on her knees. Now she’s rocking back and forth, thrusting her pelvis. What in …! Dr. Joe does not do this – for EXERCISE! Fast-forward. She does that for much longer than you’d think. This is yoga? Finally I decide to do my own leg exercise routine and just watch. Twenty minutes later she’s still panting and undulating with her red smile.

I shut it off and go for a walk.

I mention my yoga woes to friends. One woman admits yoga is not for her, says she tried a class and felt an overwhelming urge to laugh when they were being all serious. The more she tried not to laugh, the worse it got. One friend told of a beginners’ class where she couldn’t do any of the poses and the instructor kept saying, “It’s just so good that you came.” How helpful.

On the phone with another friend, I say it’s Kundalini yoga.

“That sounds dirty!” she laughs.

A skinny new friend tells me she loves yoga and I should give it a chance. Another friend, skinny, used to teach it. Someone in my book club, also skinny, is a yoga instructor. I talk to my very fit brother-in-law, who does yoga. He laughs and suggests a different DVD.

His son, overhearing, says, “Do it! Watch four times – get your money back!”

Back home, I Google “yoga.” Maybe it’s the wrong kind of yoga – it can’t be me.

“Fat People Can’t Do Yoga!!! Say Whaaat???” Jackpot! A 10-minute YouTube clip of a big, beautiful, laughing woman. Much more inspiring than yoga body girl. No music, talks to the camera, explains poses as she goes. At one point after getting up from a shoulder stand, she says, out of breath, “They usually have, um, cool ways to roll back up, like once you get from the floor to, um, a standing position, but ah – I just got up!”

I Google “Yoga B****,” a book title I’d heard a few years back. Bingo! Worth your 4 minutes to watch the trailer. Cigarette hanging out of her mouth, wine glass in hand, dog snoring nearby, she talks about her book. This woman is hilarious.

Next I find a yoga clip by “themidlifegals.” Irreverent and funny.

Inspired by this humor, I feel like I don’t have to take yoga so seriously. Maybe I will when I get all yoga-body skinny, but if I lose my sense of humor with the pounds, maybe it’s not worth it. Namaste, folks!

Melinda Walton lives in Saranac Lake.