I can’t say that I’ve done a lot of yoga, but I’ve had a couple of longish periods in which I did yoga. I like it a lot, when it’s gentle. My first teacher was brilliant—sweet, smart, rigorous, gentle. She handled a class with a wide range of body types and abilities without batting an eyelash and without making anyone feel special— either privileged or dysfunctional.
Then she went off to teach at the women’s prison. I’d been spoiled. I waited until the new person had a chance to settle in and went back. Silly me, I thought Claire was what yoga teachers would all be like. About midway through the second class, the German lady looked me up and down as if it hurt her eyes and quite literally asked me “What are you doing here?”
So I was out for a long time. Then there was a sweetie pie Episcopal priest/psychiatric chaplain/yoga guy who was teaching at church, so I went back. He was lovely, and he did try very hard to accommodate me and my various lumps and inabilities. But the style of yoga he practiced just plain hurt a lot of the time—lots of standing on feet that were not supported properly (I hadn’t gotten my custom insoles yet—so I often felt like pissed-off trolls were hammering spikes through my feet—I’m pretty sure this is not an appropriate yoga feeling…). I stuck with that for over a year, mostly because I’d talked my husband into going, too, and we did really like our teacher. But yoga-with-pain just got to me eventually, so I quit again. Haven’t gone back again yet. There’s a class locally that looks pretty good, but it’s more than I want to spend.
I wish the Curvy Yoga chick was local. Check her out (www.curvyyoga.com). (http://www.heartfeltyoga.com/heavyweight_yoga.htm also looks really good, if you’re looking for resources. I think I might ❤ the curvyyoga chick, though . She gives matter-of-fact instructions for how to move your belly skin to make poses work, and lots of alternatives to poses that just aren’t going to work for some of us, and she’s gently funny and generally awesome. Maybe I’ll find a disciple somewhere in the vicinity. I’ve thought about just trying to do it alone, but I’ve never found solo yoga very satisfying, for some reason. I think my psyche believes that if I’m exercising alone, there should be reading involved.
So Dances With Fat yesterday went after this article: http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/yoga-for-obese-people
I gather that the etiquette of the fatosphere demands that I warn you, gentle reader, that if you go to the site and read the article, there will be “triggering” language in it. In other words, it will say stupid stuff about fat people, belittle them, and generally make an ass of itself. I’m not sure how I feel about this particular bit of etiquette. Maybe I’m just not that delicate. Maybe that stuff damages me—rebruising old bruises—in ways that I am not aware of. I suspect I don’t really have authority to speak to it one way or another.
Chastain’s right, there is mightily stupid stuff in there, BUT it is actually suggesting to the members of “THE WORLD’S LARGEST ASSOCIATION FOR FITNESS & WELLNESS PROFESSIONALS” that they should think about making their yoga classes more welcoming to fatties, so I’m willing to cut the writers a little slack. After all, this is an association of trainers, many of whom have long since drunk the Kool-Aid of Jillian Michaels approach to the universe, i.e. YELL-at-the-fat-people-for-their-own-good. In other words, they have mostly been more inclined to some range of responses to fatties-on-the-mats that goes from German-yoga-bitch to truly-well-intentioned-priest-guru. Not a great range. So something that suggests that not all fat people are exactly the same is kind of progress, I’d say. And, on the whole, the language wasn’t any worse than much of the language the medical profession uses to talk about us. Or, heaven knows, worse than the way I talk about trainers. I’m not sure where the lines are between a Straw Man, a Punching Bag, and a full-on loatheable Other, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve been known to cross them now and again.
The thing is, people don’t yell shit at trainers when they’re walking down the street or write supposedly bioethical articles about how it’s okay to be mean to them for their own good, so I feel minimal guilt in declaring verbal open season on The Trainers of the World, even as I know that I am tarring many good humans with the Jillian Michaels Memorial Brush. I’m not precisely off the hook, but I’m not quite on it, either, I think/hope.
I imagine I’ll get back to yoga at some point. It’s sane, peacemaking movement when it’s done right, and I’m aware that I could use some peacemaking. Lots of it, in fact. Lots and lots. Tai Chi seems like a good idea, too, now that I have the spiffy miracle insoles.
Meanwhile, in it’s most extreme version, yoga seems to offer the possibility of Ultimate Freedom From Food, which is something I occasionally think would be a kind of bliss. Check this out: http://myscienceacademy.org/2013/01/28/man-in-india-who-claims-that-he-has-not-eaten-or-drank-any-liquid-in-70-years-examined-by-scientists/
Shouldn’t it be “drunk?” Anyway, the video is interesting in a “Gosh-I-can’t-decide-how-skeptical-to-be way. I don’t, per se, leap to disbelief. I know yoga is a powerful tool in the right hands, but defying the laws of biophysics seems a bit much. I believe many, many things are possible, but still. On the other hand, if some divine being would like to drip entirely-sufficient-nectar into my mouth now and again, okay by me. I suspect, however, that if divinities are inclined to do that sort of thing, they only do it for folks who pretty much dedicate their lives to fairly intense discipline. All things may be possible with God, but not without some considerable effort on our part in making close-to-perfect vessels/receptacles of ourselves.
I suppose that should all have had a “trigger warning” attached, too. I “snopes-ed” it, btw, and found nothing debunking the article on the remarkable old man.
Yoga is, of course, a system of praying-with-the-body, no matter how much it also works as a non-religious or non-specifically-religious form of exercise. And the point of praying-with-the-body is to make the body an open mouth into which the mind/heart of a divinity can pour itself and find a home. It’s an interesting approach to the relationship between the body and the soul or spirit. It might suggest that there is something beyond the, to me at least, more common approach of trying to make the body perfect as an outward sign of an inward perfectability or saved-ness. Yoga’s maybe more of a partnership than a contest?
I don’t know that I have any serious thematic thrust here. I liked, and was interested by, the connections running through some pretty random stuff that fetched up on my doorstep yesterday. I’ve been thinking a lot this month about the whole idea of change, what it means to want it, to believe in it, to understand it, to seek it, and whether I’m hostile to it or terrified of it. So this all probably ties in to that somehow. More anon.
NOTE: Although I thought I made it pretty clear that any problems I had with Diana Sylvan’s smart, sweet, perceptive, hard-nosed list of Rules for Being Fat (2 blogs ago) were mine, and not with the list, I have been informed by one of my Most Reliable Critics that the post could have been construed to be critical of Ms. Sylvan or her blog. So let me be clear: The blog is smart and sassy and charming. The blogger seems to be exactly the sort of young woman I’d be thrilled to have raised (i.e., she reminds me of my daughters). I, me, I tend to have fairly silly knee-jerk reactions to the idea of Rules. More often than not (far more than the aforementioned critic realizes) I manage to suppress the incipient hissy-fits. Apparently “Round Rules” was something of a failure. I apologize to Ms. Sylvan if she caught up with my blog and felt the least bit attacked. I meant to do the exact opposite.