One of my first columns was about finding a yoga class for someone of my age and auto accident decrepitude. There’s practically a yoga studio on every corner in downtown La Jolla so one wouldn’t think this was such a problem, especially when one factors in the large demographic of locals who are, well, old. But La Jolla is nothing if not a competitive community and I have flunked out of more yoga classes than you can count.
No one ever asks me to leave, of course, but if the teacher is having to adapt every pose for me and I’m holding up the class, I start to feel the very un-yoga-ish vibes of photon missiles directed at the back of my head. I conclude it’s time to pack up my mat and take my chakras elsewhere.
At this point, I’m pretty good at sizing up whether a yoga class is going to work for me as soon as I walk in the door. I’m not fooled by the brochure description of the class being “suitable for all levels.” Yoga studios lie. I’m sure the goddess Bhuvaneswari is not happy with them about this.
I can tell instantly if I’m in the wrong place if it’s a room full of people half my age (and worse, weight) who are wearing Yoga Attire. Yoga Attire is characterized by suitable-for-forward-folding Nylon/Spandex tank tops over coordinated sports bras and stretchy pants, hair pulled back into a pony tail with matching scrunchie. If I’m really in the wrong place, toenails match the bra. I would be arrested in this outfit, if for no other reason that it would be a crime against humanity to inflict moi’s chunké derrière in the downward dog pose to a room full of fellow yogis. (But it would clear out the room fairly fast.)
Younger people, inexplicably, sometimes show up at old people yoga. I think they just want to show off. They do balance poses without holding onto the wall, the tree pose with nary a wobble. It is so frickin’ annoying.
If your best pose isn’t shavasana (the resting pose), you don’t belong in a class with me. If the room has a rope wall and the teacher has any intention of involving us with it, I can’t flee fast enough. If the class takes place in one of those intentionally super-heated rooms, I’d have heat stroke. People my age come with their own internal combustion furnaces. In fact, in one of my classes, our sweet young genuinely adorable teacher always thinks the room is cold and wonders aloud why we don’t think so too. From the back of the room comes, “Wait twenty years.”
It has taken a while, but I have indeed found classes with my demographic: Asanas for the Ossified and Svaroopa for the Somewhat Sentient are right up my alley. But even these have their downside. During the final relaxation, at least half of the class is snoring. Loudly. I mean, if oldies have a single talent, it’s falling asleep instantaneously.
I’m actually fine with snorers; it’s the moaners that disrupt my om-ish serenity. It’s like they’ve gone into pranayama overdrive. You begin to think you’ve been transported to the deli scene from “When Sally Met Harry.” It’s all I can do to keep from hissing, “Do you mind??? Some of us are trying to have some inner peace over here!”
The other thing I’ve noticed in older people yoga is that when we go to put away our props (blocks, blankets, etc.) after class, I am always in line behind the precision blanket folder who decides that all the rest of the people ahead of her did not fold their blankets correctly. You just know exactly what her linen closet looks like. But my yoga-cultivated calm starts fading fast waiting for her.
Here's one of the reasons why: Classes are an hour and 15 minutes but parking around yoga studios is generally an hour. (Note to take this up with La Jolla Town Council.) That wonderful feeling of oneness with the universe is totally shot to hell when you see your car and ten others around it with parking tickets. Yoga is a major revenue source for La Jolla. We haven't done our first cat-and-cow before the evil meter crones swoop in and mark tires knowing they can make their daily quota on yoga classes alone. But not to worry. I remind myself that the goddess Bhuvaneswari is going to get them for this. She doesn't like to be messed with. Namaste.
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