Saturday, June 20, 2009


I have a love-hate relationship with yoga. When I started it a few years ago I had a very laid back gentle male teacher who led us through the poses slowly and deliberately. We spent a lot of time in poses like "child's pose" which is essential kneeling down and putting your forehead on the floor. It takes about as much strength as napping. So, I thought I was pretty good at yoga. Granted, I can barely touch my toes and "downward dog" was always a struggle rather than the resting pose it is supposed to be. But I enjoyed it, especially because it's the only exercise you can take where you are supposed to lie on the floor and "meditate" at the end. I quit going for a couple of years, until friends persuaded me to join their class. I had fond memories of lying peacefully in a darkened room, so I agreed. Turns out it was the hour and a half "power hour" they had invited me to. But the end I was a trembling blog of sweat and yoga mat grime. I went a few more times, and got a little bit better, to the point where I didn't feverishly eye the door in the middle of the "warrior pose" and try to calulate if I could vault over the other participants and dash out to my car. I didn't, mainly because I didn't have the strength to run.
Then, I quit going for a while. You know, life tends to get in the way, and the studio is across town. But I'm on a new health kick, and I invited a friend to brave a new class with me.

There's always an interesting mix of people in yoga classes. There are usually one or two sorority girls who got lost on their way to the rec center, one or two guys dragged in by the women they are hoping to sleep with and so are desperate to spend time with, a couple average to fat chicks who are hoping that yoga will be a less strenuous path to fitness than running, and then the rest of the class is filled with hippies. And I really don't like hippies. There are several reasons for my dislike. Now, I realize that I am making sweeping generalizations and relying on stereotypes, but it seems like every hippy I've come across falls into these characterizations. They talk about wanting to "save the world" or "end poverty" or "end capitalism" but their method of promoting that change is to join protest rallies or meet with groups of other people who feel the exact same way they do. They wear flowing skirts, dreadlocks, thai embroidered purses, and hang tibetan prayer flags in their yards. They refuse to "compromise their principals" which means that they refuse to change their appearance or method of persuasion in order to be taken seriously by anyone other than people who already agree with them. When was the last time you saw a legitimate hippy politician, lawyer, or anyone else in a position of power that was taken seriously by the mainstream media? Don't get me wrong, politically and morally I'm almost as hippy as I could be without wearing hemp sandals and getting a tattoo of "the goddess" on my back. But the hippies I see are lazy and illogical in their approach to change. They feel safer repeating the same dogma to each other so they never engage in a useful dialogue with The Others. The people I have seen who are committed to making real changes in this world wear suits, get a Master's degree in something other than "philosophy", and start working their way up the ladder until they are in a position of power. They aren't compromising their principals, but they're being smart about the way they act on them.

Anyway, that's enough of a diatribe on hippies. However, there is one more thing I hate about hippies. They are ALWAYS good at yoga. They are skinny and wirey and ridiculously flexible.
So when my friend "Selina" (name changed to preserve her dignity) and I walked into the room it was wall to wall skinny, smug, tattoo'ed and dreadlock'ed hippies. I was expecting this, it is a yoga class after all, so I lay out my mat and pretended to stretch. We began a simple cycle of poses and I thought to myself "oh, this isn't that bad, I must be in better shape than I thought!" But then the instructor started going faster. And faster. Pretty soon I was three poses behind everyone else. The hippies suddenly turned into hippy-robots and seemed to merely push the fast forward button. The instructor started giggling evilly, which I considered to be a bad sign considering we were only about five minutes into the hour long class.

That giggle was definitely a harbinger of doom. I have blocked out most of my memories of the class, but at one point I remember lying on my stomach, desperately reaching back to grab my sweat soaked ankles. I flailed for a while, praying that suddenly my arms would grow 6 inches longer so I could grab my ankles. All around me the hippies rocked as serenely as boats, hands firmly around their toes. Hippies don't sweat. I think perhaps my teacher sensed my growing hippy-rage because at one point, I don't remember what pose it was other than that it was extremely painful and I couldn't even get to the first part of the pose while everyone else was tied in a knot and suspending themselves in the air with their pinky fingers, she came over to me and gently forced my arms wider and my legs straighter. As my joints began to strain and pop she said cheerily "Everyone comes to this class at their own level. The most important thing is to put yourself fully into each movement" She then turns my head further past my shoulders. She looked into my eyes, and said in a stage whisper "You have a big smile on your face. That's the perfect attitude to have". I was clearly the special ed portion of the class. I didn't have the energy to tell her that the "big smile" was actually a grimace of pain, and that if I had been able to move my arms at all I would have punched her in the face.

The class continued for what felt like a week. Towards the end I was pausing during poses to pretend to massage a sore muscle or tend to a weak ankle when I was really just desperately trying to catch my breath. Selina was less subtle than I was, and at one point was just squatting on her knees laughing hysterically as the hippies levitated around her. She pointed out later that the woman next to her was visibly pregnant. We pictured her fetus doing the poses right along with her. Better than us, naturally. Because hippies are born, not made.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Can I get the accessories without the actual baby?

Pretty much my one reason I want a child right now is so that I can finally buy all the wonderful baby things at Ikea. They have the most adorable stuff for babies and kids. Things like, bunk beds with tents over them. Not just any tent, but a tent with STARS ON IT! If I could pursuade Danny to sleep in the bottom bunk with half of his body hanging uncomfortably off the end, I would totally buy one for myself. Or perhaps I could just buy this leaf canopy and hang it over our current bed so that I could pretend to be a fairy princess lying in a bird's nest in an enchanted tree. Then I could gaze up at my sun ceiling lamp while playing with my blue giraffe
For a second today I got extremely excited because I realized that while I don't have kids, I work with kids! I could decorate my office with Ikea toys! And lamps! And we could play with the fantastic Swedish stuffed animals while we talk about feelings! Then I remembered how, as a fresh faced, naive social worker I brought some of my childhood stuffed animals to work, thinking that they could comfort my clients as they had comforted me for so many years. Instead, they sat neglected on a shelf in favor of the half broken plastic toys that came with my office. Neglected, until someone needed to sneeze, or drool, or take out their rage by punching something. Then Bearland Cub and Hobbes were the first creatures in their hands. I have since taken my animals home and run them through the washing machine. They still look a little shell shocked.

So, no Ikea furniture for me. I'll stick with my crappy plastic happy meal toys and my sturdy office lamp that is too heavy for anyone to throw at me.