Bend It Like Buddha: My Foray into Yoga

Bend It Like Buddha: My Foray into Yoga

At the tender age of 45, with the body of a well-nourished Buddha and the energy level of a meditating monk, I found myself face-to-face with an adversary I never saw coming: yoga. Yes, yoga, the ancient Indian practice known for enhancing flexibility and strength. In theory, it sounded soothing, almost relaxing. In practice, it was a warzone - a symphony of controlled breathing, an orchestra of poses I couldn’t possibly twist myself into, and an unforgettable test of my resolve.

Here's the thing about yoga: you'd think it would be an introvert's paradise. It's quiet, it's personal, and nobody should care what you're doing. Except, they do. The class was teeming with Instagram-worthy yogis contorting their bodies into pretzel-like shapes with an almost unnatural grace, while I was just struggling to keep my balance during the most basic of poses.

And then there was the issue of the heat. The room was hotter than the surface of the sun. Sweat trickled down my back as I tried to maneuver my Buddha-like body into something that resembled the 'downward dog' position. Apparently, hot yoga is a thing, and no one bothered to give me the memo. My t-shirt clung to my body like a second skin, and I could feel the stifling heat wrapping around me like a woolen blanket.

Let's not forget the olfactory assault: a strange mix of incense, body odor, and something that smelled suspiciously like... feet? As if navigating the labyrinth of the human pretzel wasn't enough, I had to do so while engulfed in this... unique scent.

The cherry on top of this convoluted sundae was my yoga instructor. A woman whose flexibility would put a Cirque du Soleil acrobat to shame. She glided around the room, adjusting poses and issuing words of encouragement. And by 'encouragement,' I mean she had this uncanny knack for publicly acknowledging my ungraceful fumbles.

“Good effort, Alex!” she'd call out, a Cheshire cat grin spreading across her face as I grappled with yet another pose. Her eyes sparkled with a strange mix of amusement and optimism. She saw potential, she said. I told her I hoped she was right, but I couldn’t shake off the feeling that the kind of potential she was referring to was at least a hundred reincarnations away.

Oh, and if you're wondering about the whole 'holding in your farts' thing, let me tell you - the struggle is real. Apparently, all the bending and twisting acts as a sort of biological air pump, creating a pressure cooker situation that could lead to some embarrassing consequences. Luckily, I managed to keep my personal emissions in check. But let me tell you, maintaining 'inner peace' while waging a silent war against your own body's natural urges is no easy feat.

Yoga, as I learned, is as much a social activity as it is a form of exercise. And this became painfully clear when I found myself stationed next to a couple of yoga pros - both of whom looked like they'd just stepped off the cover of a fitness magazine. Their lithe bodies effortlessly contorted into poses that seemed impossible to my novice eyes. I'd catch them casting sideways glances my way, their brows furrowed in a mixture of curiosity and concern.

"Are you alright, man?" one of them asked during a particularly torturous round of pigeon poses. I managed a weak nod, despite feeling as though my limbs were being slowly pulled apart on a medieval torture rack. I decided then that yoga was a spectator sport - and I was the unwitting comic relief.

And let's not even get started on mat manners. In the world of yoga, your mat is your castle, a sacred space where you're supposed to find inner peace and tranquillity. That's all well and good until you realize that a roomful of people are silently passing judgment on your every move. Did I mention I have the grace of a baby elephant learning to walk?

Despite my initial hurdles, something strange happened. Over the course of the class, I found myself gradually warming up to the idea of yoga (and no, I'm not talking about the room temperature). There was a certain sense of camaraderie in the shared discomfort, a silent understanding that we were all in this together.

Sure, my body screamed in protest every time I tried a new pose. But there was also a sense of achievement when I finally nailed a relatively simple asana. I even managed to hold a shaky tree pose for a good five seconds, a feat that earned me a nod of approval from the instructor.

The real magic of yoga, I realized, isn't about how well you can execute the poses or how long you can hold them. It's about pushing your own boundaries and embracing your limitations. It's about finding that quiet space within yourself, even when you're surrounded by sweat, strange smells, and a roomful of toned and tanned bodies.

So, would I do it again? Maybe. Would I recommend it to others? Definitely. After all, life's too short to not try new things, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone and making a fool of yourself in a room full of strangers. And who knows, maybe there's a yogi in all of us, just waiting for the right class, the right temperature, and the right amount of humor to shine through. As for me, I think I'll stick to meditation - at least for now. The Buddha belly stays, and so does my sense of adventure.

So, did I embrace the path of the yogi? Did I discover hidden reserves of strength and flexibility? Let's just say that I emerged from that hot, aromatic room with an increased appreciation for my couch and Netflix. But also with a grudging respect for yoga and those who practice it. Sure, I was more suited for the role of Buddha - the sitting, meditating, not-so-flexible Buddha - but at least I had given it a try.

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1 comment

i just like the yoga pants :)))


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