Yoga for the Proud 42 year-old Male

Last Sunday, I went to my first Yoga class in twenty years. My wife Steph asked me if I would go with her to a studio nearby, and I figured that might be a good idea. I’m running 25-30 pounds overweight, I could stand the exercise, and I used to really, really enjoy yoga. Of course, that was twenty years and several belt notches ago.

Still, my memories of my yoga years are good ones. I loved the classes, kept a good practice on my own for a few years, and found myself well-suited to the challenging poses. My stubby legs meant my toes were always easy to touch, and I enjoyed the casual litheness of the average twenty-something.

And besides, my wife and I were scheduled for the “gentle movement” class, which sounded like it might be for seniors and the otherwise physically infirm. How hard could it be?

Auspicious beginnings

My wife and I registered for the class and entered the studio, which featured dim lights, a faint scent of lavender, and some kind of pan flute music. We followed the lead of the four or five other women already in the studio by setting down on our mats and relaxing.

I felt a pleasant calm flow over me, and the smug appreciation that I was doing something good for body and soul. Only a couple of nights previous I was parked on the couch with a glass of wine and a box of Cheez-Its. Look how far I had come!

The instructor arrived, and with a smooth voice she guided us through our first poses. She introduced us to “Child’s Pose,” a stance which found us all tucked over on the ground in a relaxing, almost worshipful submission. “You can return to this pose if the movements get too intense for you,” she said. Pish! As if.

The more challenging poses followed, and my body responded admirably for a semi-decommissioned battleship of 42 years. I thought, “This is going to be so easy!”

It starts to be not so easy

The first sign of trouble was the sweat. Now, I don’t mind a little sweat. I think a nice sheen of perspiration is a good sign when shoveling snow or taking a brisk walk. “Hey!” says the body. “This is mildly challenging work! Let’s cool things off a bit.”

My level of sweat quickly graduated, however, from glistening patina to alarming flood. The drops were beating on the mat as I strained against my back legs in “Downward Facing Dog,” a pose I could have done asleep in my twenties. “This is a restorative pose,” said the instructor. “No it isn’t!” said the intensifying shower of sweat slickening my mat.

There was some twisting, some squatting, some triangle-ing, and something about my sit bones. Pretty sure those are on my butt or hips somewhere, both of which were increasingly sore and tender from all of the ‘relaxing movement.’

About 45 minutes into the practice, I noticed the clock on the wall to my right. It hadn’t been 45 minutes at all. It had been 20.

Revenge of the snacks

I labored on for what seemed like another twenty minutes (but who can really tell?), completely aware that all of the women around me were taking the class in stride. I, however, was a giant lump of meat experiencing pain in places I wasn’t sure were actually parts of my body. I swear to Pete, I was experiencing a ball of discomfort floating six inches above my face. Was this the undiscovered male pride chakra? Was it glowing a humiliating shade of green?

Then, once again fighting through downward dog, I noticed a smell. It was coming from my chest. I had been very careful to apply deodorant in all of the usual places, so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was smelling. It was salty, with a weird whiff of… baked snack crackers?

Oh no, I thought. My body is sweating out Cheez-Its.

The dizziness hit pretty quickly after that and I soon found myself bent over on the ground in what I thought was Child’s Pose… but might just have been the aftermath of me collapsing on my face. While the rest of the class continued to explore relaxing movement, I stayed down until I was completely back in my body. I wasn’t going anywhere until I was sure that a rain of Cheez-Its wasn’t going to spill out of my shirt upon standing.

The rest of the class was a bit of a blur. I was supposed to do a standing flamingo pose of some kind where one leg was bent and the foot rested above my knee, but my interpretation involved me standing on both feet and trying not to pass out.

My favorite part was the end, when we lay down on our mats in “Savasana.” This is apparently known as “The Corpse Pose.” Another ten minutes and I may have provided a more literal interpretation.

Will I go back? I suppose I should. Will I buy Cheez-Its again? Never, ever, EVER.

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