This morning, my yoga class was rather challenging. I had to bend something that hadn’t moved in ages, I had to touch something that wasn’t getting down, and I had to lift something that wasn’t getting off the floor. The ‘somethings’ I refer to are body parts, although they do not feel like them anymore.
I would have managed this entire routine and more had it not been for one small fly in the ointment – I had bones – hard, clanking, dense bones. Any other softer ligaments, over the years, have solidified like old cheese into hard, clanking, dense bones.
Then there is the small matter of self-respect. (I don’t carry too much of it in the summers; makes it tough to get by.) When my lithe instructor stood on my toes and gently pressed my back so that my nose touched my knees (it’s a hoot when you try to visualize it), I pointed out rather acidly that I wasn’t an invertebrate. I said that the good Lord gave me a spine and if it is unwilling to bend, so be it. I said what was the need to be tyrannical with the long bony line of honor? I said that the spine must stand tall. I said that the toes were stupid dumpy little digits anyway. I said that their only purpose is to invoke a sense of inadequacy when you can’t touch them.
She listened and pressed harder.
I also asked her that while these exercises were fine, maybe I should try a little variation. Like instead of keeping the knees straight and touching the toes, how about keeping the toes straight and touching the knees? I could do that in one easy sweep. A veritable gem of gymnastic poetry.
She wasn’t interested.
So I went through the paces and my thoughts wandered to important subjects such as spinach omelet and the Indian civilization.
And while spinach omlets are enduringly yummy, I had several insights about the Indus creed.
No matter what is said of Indians, they just complicate matters ad infinitum.
What, pray, is the need to go through so many servile postures to salute the sun? You extend your back, you drop to the floor, you lift your body but keep the chest pressed down, you get down on all fours and look up, you drop to the floor again but look up, your chin stays on the ground but the heel point up, your heels are pressed down but the shoulders need to be elevated. All that for one suryanamaskar. What sodding madness!
Why can’t you just look at the sun and say Hi? And for an advanced version of this exercise, wave both your arms clockwise. That’s a plenty respectful namaskar, I think. No point in getting into all kind of squiggles reminiscent of my brother’s handwriting.
To further aggravate my agony, there is a German guy in my class who is all cartilage. He can get his legs over his shoulders, his nose can touch all the toes of his feet – one by one (not that he has actually done that, but I bet he could), his back gets off the floor like a soaring blackbird, and when he sits just so, you know that it is a lotus pose. I, on the other hand, shuffle into a position that makes me look like one of those things that squat on lily-pads during the monsoon.
Today, we had to do something that would strengthen the lower abdomen and ‘open up’ the pelvis area. (I am very wary of such language. If they’re shut, they’re shut. Keep out.) My instructor was helping me with a difficult maneuver involving the thigh and the pain-resistance level of a corpse. The German made his moves is silent rhythm.
To get me more interested, my instructor recounted the many virtues of this asana. This position was important for women because it helped them deliver babies more easily. The German heard this, stopped short, and asked the instructor in alarm, ‘I don’t need to do that, do I?’
‘You never know’, my instructor quipped.
I think I shall take her a bright, polished apple tomorrow. Need to be on the right side of this kind of wit.