Monday, October 11, 2010

*Yoga For The Chronically Decrepit

["Let Inga Tell You", La Jolla Light, published January 29, 2010] © 2010

I was observing to my husband last week that there may be more yoga classes in La Jolla than in India – good news, of course, for those of us who practice yoga. Unfortunately, by dint of advanced personal decrepitude, my options are limited to about 2% of them. But “gentle yoga” classes do exist and I am proud to say that four times a week, I can be found variously at Asanas for the Ossified, Mantras for the Maimed and Disabled, Svaroopa for the Somewhat Sentient, or my personal fave, Yoga for the Flat-Out Feeble.

In my classes, the only requirement is a palpable pulse. Fortunately, nobody checks.

Three years ago a drunk driver hit me (well, actually my car) on I-5 during which a critical mass of my body parts seceded from the union. With physical therapy and then yoga, some have returned but others have never been seen again. But I continue to hope that with enough yoga, they will start responding to my postcards.

If I had one teeny weeny complaint about yoga in La Jolla, it would be that it sometimes feels like a competitive sport. I initially went to a Restorative Yoga class which the brochure described as “restful supported poses emphasizing conscious body/mind relaxation, and releasing of tension and stored-up toxins”. Since at the time, I had tons of toxins and not much use of my arms, that sounded pretty good. And it was – until the instructor asked for feedback after the first class.

Student #1: “Could you make this harder? I didn’t really feel I was pushed to my full relaxation potential.”

Student #2: “I agree. Maybe, like, make the poses inverted?”

Inga (chirpily): It was perfect for me! I wouldn’t change a thing!
Student #3: (Glares at Inga) “I totally agree with the other students. For me to continue, I’d need to get more out of it. Do you have an iyengar rope wall?”

Om vey.

I find that the classes for us older infirm folks are always the first to go.

In fact, ever since the cancellation of my Friday and Saturday classes, Chakras for Centenarians, and Poses for the Decayed and Dying, I’ve really had to step up the home practice. This, however, has its own downside. My husband, aware that yoga poses are often named for animals, loves to wander through the living room (our only carpeted space) and guess which creature the pose is supposed to be simulating.

“Hmmm,” he ponders. “The Rabid Raccoon? The Happy Hyena? Wait - I’ve got it! The Flatulent Fox!”

“Actually, it’s the Lion pose,” I said.

He frowns. “I’m sticking with the fox. But while I’m here, do the Fornicating Parakeet.”

“It’s a Downward Dog, dear.” Although I have to confess, if you have an outdoor aviary full of birds as we do, you can see where the guy is coming from.

A while later he’s back. “I don’t get why they call that the Voyeur Pose.”

“Well, because it’s actually called the Warrior Pose.”
He sighed and wandered on. “Just when I thought yoga might be interesting.”

WANTED: (Very) low-level yoga classes. ASAP.

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