The Writing

14 April, 2011

power to the yogi, baby

I was all fired up to write this post last week, in a spasm of outrage after so-called "power yoga." Then I put it off and didn't and now it's power yoga day again, so this is like pre-emptive outrage. I would have said, before this quarter, that I had not met a yoga class I did not like. Even the mellow ones. Even the hard ones. Whatever. But this... this... I do not like. I knew power yoga would be all aerobic and shit, fine. I like pain*. I like challenges. I like feeling achy and exhausted at the end of a practice. And while this class delivers all those things, it is not made of win. I was expected ashtanga-lite. I am getting... pushups? What? When we have vinyasas, we are doing pushups? Why in the name of the many gods...? And then, for the Savasana, instead of either blessed silence or something worldess and meditate-y, she played this smarmy love-yourself, you're wonderful! song that required me to sing Amon Amarth to myself so I could focus.

So okay. It's not the yoga. It's the instructor. This woman vacillates between hippy-dippy peace and love and drill-sergeant. Which would be fine, if she inspired in me any confidence. I think she's knows yoga just fine, but her pedagogy does not work for me. I wish she did not a) make a habit of touching without permission and, b) when she does so, shoving the body in question into a more extreme version of the pose.** And c) most damning--no precision at all in the practice. I know power yoga is about speed and movement. That's great! But without proper alignment, all the moving with your breath in the world won't help. And you are likely to get hurt. And this class is full of beginners. Out of shape beginners. They need help. I should not be the one spotting a Rubenesque newbie trying to jump into a handstand in her second week of yoga class EVER. The instructor should be, and she should be explaining how one aligns one's shoulders over wrists, hips over shoulders, and offering alternates for those who are not physically able to manage. She should not be haranguing those of us who know our limits or simply don't want to try that pose. I don't respond well to insinuations that I am too timid to try something, but I am certainly strong enough, so go up and try! Whatever, lady. I have wrist problems and if I want to do upward bow later, then I need to save them, because once they're done, they're done. There is some pain I don't push through.

So why go, cinnabari? Why subject yourself to aggravation, which is antithetical to yoga? Because I paid for it. Because I'm stubborn. Because maybe I am catching her on two off-weeks in a row and I will love her teaching in another week. Okay, mostly the first two.

*I know that's not a yoga-sort of thing. I'm not always good at the mental part of yoga.

**I get why. Some students are tentative. But not all of us are, and some of us sport injuries and joint weaknesses that do not benefit from adjustments. And really, it's fucking courtesy to ask before handling a student. Even if you're a woman handling women.