If you’re over on Facebook with me, you’ll know that recently I started doing yoga again. It had been 10 years and two kids since my last class, but I could feel my body atrophying into kinks and knots and impossibly bad habits, so I thought I’d best give it another go.
I was halfway through my first class when I remembered why I stopped last time. Yoga makes me angry. Not frustrated or mildly cranky, but full of rage. It begins with the whole ’empty your mind’ moment at the start of class. “Empty my mind?” my mind says. “How am I supposed to do that?” And the thoughts whirl round, getting blacker and blacker as I try to fight them off and turn my mind into an abyss.
“Concentrate on your breathing,” my golden, sylph-like instructor intones in her soothing, calm-blue-ocean voice. So I do. To the point where I’m practically hyperventilating because, really, concentrating on my breathing makes me aware of my breathing and the minute I become aware of anything it all goes pear-shaped (trust me, as a writer who has tried plotting out a novel and become paralysed, I hesitate to try this with my breathing).
And then the movement begins. The horrible, creaking, agonising movement. There is little I dislike more in life than a downward-facing dog. Really. My head swims, my hamstrings scream, my heels never touch the floor no matter how much I press down through my ‘bundas’ (whatever they may be). The only downward dog I want in my life is that guy up there in the photo. Procrasti-Pup has the whole ‘down’ thing covered.
So while all this is going on and I’m lengthening my muscles and strengthening my core, my mind is going 1000 miles an hour and it is NOT happy. In fact, it is swearing every swear word I know (and, having worked in journalism my whole adult life, I know a wide range). I am watching the clock and swearing. I am sweating and panting and trying not to pass out, and my mind is shrieking like this: *$%@+++&&&^^^@@@####!
I’m not a natural.
I asked a good friend of mine who is an avid yogi what she thought about my situation. “Yoga works on all parts of the body, Al,” she said, serenely. “I think you are venting your spleen.”
Right. That’s one way of putting it.
I Googled my problem, of course – late at night, by the light of the tele, when I was wondering if I was abnormal. I’m not. The anger during yoga is a ‘thing’. Apparently it has to do with the fact that we store our deepest fears and tragic memories in unused muscles of the body and when we use those muscles, the thoughts rise up like so much toxic waste and … well, in my case, make me furious. It could be worse, I guess – another side effect is bawling like a baby all through the class. Or feeling like you’re going to vomit.
Swearing is minor when you look at it like that.
Another friend of mine just reckons I’m doing it all wrong. He did some yoga for the first time recently and found it all very soothing and that the 90 minutes went very quickly.
I wanted to swear at him, but held back.
So why do I go back? Well, here’s the rub. I feel about 1000 per cent better after the class. It’s like banging myself on the head – it feels brilliant when it’s over. I sleep the sleep of the just, my neck and shoulders have no kinks, I’m not eating Nurofen for breakfast because my tension levels are so high that I have a headache nearly every day.
It’s all worth it.
But I think I’m going to need to learn some new swear words.
Do you do yoga? Does it make you angry?