Sunday, April 25, 2010

Efficient, not Cool: Yoga and Me

Today my Sunday yoga instructor opened her class with a brief discussion of this article in the New York Times:

The article is entitled "A Yoga Manifesto."  Apparently the spirituality of yoga is becoming more chic and pricey.  The instructors are turning into high profile "rock stars" with attitudes.  Students are paying $125 per month for memberships to reputable studios.  A really good mat can set you back $100.  There are designer lines of yoga wear.  I have seen these phenomena and the article is good reporting.  Of course, these elements exist in the yoga climate.  Nonetheless, I am oblivious to the "cool" aspects of yoga. 

Here is why I do yoga: I don't have time to do cardio, lift weights and go to church regularly.  I feel like yoga gives me more bang for my buck and greater satisfaction for time spent.  Yoga does have a spiritual aspect, even if people hate the word "spiritual."  If letting go of everyday preoccupations and quieting your mind so that you can balance for longer in eagle pose does not appear spiritual on the surface, then ask yourself if reciting a liturgy while thinking about your grocery list is spiritual.  Is it?  What the hell is spirituality, anyway?  I have nothing against going to churches, temples or making a pilgrimage to mecca.  I think those are all commendable uses of time.  Personally, with my two toddlers, I'm not going.  I'll take a rain check. 

I hear people tell me they don't like yoga because they need to run on the treadmill and lift weights after class just to get a good workout.  For other people, this may be true.  Personally, I get physically spent enough in a good yoga class that I don't need extra cardio and weight training.  When I used to work out in the traditional gym fashion, I spent twice the amount of time at the gym as I do now in yoga classes.  After thirty minutes of cardio I would go to the machines and do repetitions.  I never lasted long in this routine because I find cardio machines and weights incredibly boring.  In addition, I never got the muscle definition and postural benefits that I see now. 

Another thing I keep hearing about yoga is that it has become a sort of bandwagon for middle aged women.  Now this I can see.  I am approaching middle age, at 38.  I can't imagine that I would be anyone's definition of cool, living in the suburbs with my two kids and my crossover SUV.  I don't have any celebrity contacts.  I don't frequent trendy restaurants.  I never see live theater anymore.  I barely get a chance to see a movie (note that I don't call it a film).  I do yoga to maintain physical, mental and yes, spiritual balance, without circuit training at the gym or attending Bible studies.  I find yoga to be an efficient use of my time. 

Does it work?  Absolutely.  When I started yoga I didn't expect to drop to a size 4 without dieting 22 months after the birth of my second child.  I didn't know that my sleeping patterns would become almost as predictable as those of my children.  I didn't plan on synchronizing my meditation practice with a physical routine.  I never saw myself as a spiritual chanting type, but now I truly enjoy maintaining a steady "om" in the right key.  I feel reconnected to my childhood roots in dance class, music lessons and church.  I really do.  As far as I can remember, those things were never trendy. 

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE the way you write and what you stand for. I am reposting this on my A+ Plan facebook and twitter pages!
    Amanda Winters