Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Downward Facing Husband

As most of you know, I'm game to try anything when it comes to changing up my workout challenges. A few years ago, an office colleague of mine suggested that we try hot yoga. The thought of yoga made me yawn and the concept of twisting into different shapes in a steam room made the proposition sound even less appealling seeing that I'm constantly HOT nowadays without being exposed to heat. BUT being a good sport, I said "YES" and went to the grand opening of a Moksha Yoga studio. I didn't last more than a few sessions before returning to indoor cycling and my crazy high intensity workouts.

Before I begin telling you about my most recent Yoga journey I bet you are wondering what MOKSHA YOGA is? Let me explain....

It is a green, clean, hot yoga series that stretches, strengthens and tones the muscles while detoxifying the body and calming the mind. Being of sound mind but never calm I thought it may be beneficial to introduce serenity into my life.

There are several different poses that are part of the MOKSHA practice.


Savasana, or corpse pose, is how we begin in a dimly lit room. Lying flat on the back with your palms turned up and feet slightly separated. When is the last time you were in this position playing dead in a room that is 110 degrees Fahrenheit? I bet never. The picture above illustrates how you should feel. The truth?? ... it's more like you're imitating a brisket in a slow cooker. The other challenge I was faced with was acclimating to everyone else's right to remain SILENT. It was a difficult concept for me to absorb since I'm rarely silent or still during the daylight hours. I see it as a gift of gab rather than a disturbance.
Ask my mom, she's been dealing with this issue since receiving my Grade 3 report card where in the COMMENTS SECTION it stated that I talked too much in the classroom. (BTW...I'm going to venture to say that this teacher is in eternal savasana now - G-d rest her bitchy bitchy soul).

Next comes what they call the "Intention Setting".

Often a teacher will set a theme for a class - for example being more aware of your breath, or building the core muscles of the abdomen. Notice how your hands are placed at "heart centre"? This is their way of telling you to pray that you won't fall and die during the next 60 to 90 minutes of your practice. Intent to not collapse...good idea.

The Standing Series

The standing series is a cardiovascular set of postures. The focus is on building strength, stability, balance and endurance through hot yoga postures done from a standing position. Postures are held anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute, allowing the skin to (SHVITZ) sweat and detoxify the body. I'm going to make it a point of holding the Warrior 1 pose to add in some additional strength conditioning next time I'm in the canned fruit aisle of the supermarket.

The Floor Series

The floor series works on strengthening the upper body, spine and abdominal muscles.  As a side-note, I cannot do the Crow position pictured here. I have attempted it but I think the trick is to weigh less than you did at birth in order to hoist your (tuchas) butt onto your elbows without crashing head first into the ground.

Final Savasana

Final Savasana ends the class the way it began: lying flat on the back, imitating a dead person amongst a sea of other dead people in a stinking hot chamber. Fun? Wow.

So in the past, I'm gathering my inner soul wasn't ready to practice the art of YOGA. Getting through the initial stages of my current state of being it wasn't on the top of my list of things that I wanted to do with my spare time. About a month ago, one of Steve's friends suggested we try out a class at a local Moksha Yoga studio with a complimentary pass. Yes, my favorite four letter word F.R.E.E. Steve went to a class with his buddy first, actually liked it and then coerced me into meeting him there after work on a Friday evening. I found a spot on the side of the building, dragged out my yoga mat, towel and water bottle and made my way inside. In trade for your car keys they give you another key to a small locker inside the change room. Not what I call an even trade. The approach inside is light and easy and the rules are that you remove your shoes at the front door.

Here's where I have a bit of an issue. You see, I don't like walking barefoot in areas that other people's feet have touched. The formal word for this disease is "Footophopia" (I think). On the other hand, I have a husband that would walk everywhere without shoes. He doesn't have an issue with stepping where other's have stepped. It's totally gross but then again so are feet. The first thing I had to do was figure out a way of walking to the furthest point of the studio without having to remove my flip flops.

I envisioned a "Mission Impossible/Tom Cruise style entrance but last time I looked I had no suspension wires in my trunk. This means you have to get past the Front Desk without getting caught, as well as keeping your shoes from making the proverbial flipping and flopping sound. It can be done by implementing the shuffling method with your feet. It worked for a few days until I was spotted by a trainer who motioned me back to the front door to remove my flips that clearly flopped. Since then I have figured out some stealth ways to get past the Flipper Police by doing some strategic moves upon entering through the door. On most occasions I use the "distraction" method by simply talking my way past the desk as well as wearing flourescent colored tank tops to blind the FP's.

Once inside the HOT ROOM, you are expected to respect others who are already lying in CORPSE pose. Legs splayed, eyes closed, mouths hanging open and hands by your side with palms facing up. Some are already shvitzing.... but no one is talking because they are supposed to be DEAD. If you do speak, some Yoga freak will undoubtedly call you out to the FP and you will be harshly reprimanded with a wooden ruler. Shades of Grade 3 all over again. Ugh. You also have to place your mat down and gingerly unroll it so as to keep the noise at minimum. There is no such thing as stop, drop and roll here. Shhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

Let's talk a bit about Towels and Mats for a second. I purchased my mat at a grocery store. Yes, Loblaws has Yoga mats. It was 15 bucks and is a beautiful shade of turquoise. I'm happy with my mat so don't bother me about it. It's bouncy and fine and I don't need a Lululemon one just because the majority of people believe they are more superior because of clever marketing (I mean who cares).
My towel is a different story. I learned the hard way that you can't use any old beach towel on your mat. The one I'm currently using still has my son's CAMP tags on it. He hasn't been to camp in 10 years.  If you are going to do HOT yoga, you need a YOGA TOWEL that grips onto your yoga mat so that you don't end up flying off the dam thing onto someone else's mat because yours is covered in a pool of sweat. Your mat will become similar to the slip and slide my kids used to have in the backyard. Unless you want to experience an epic fail "practice" moment.... buy yourself a good towel.

Now let's get to the real reason I'm writing this blog today.

The Act of Going to Yoga With Your Significant Other 

This is one sport where Steve and I cannot compete in. I have a background of being limber from birth through my short lived gymnastics career in my teens. Do you remember when I was on the Canadian Women's Gymnastic Team at the Olympics? Me neither. 

Okay, so here's chronological proof:


Downward Facing 2 year old

Half wheel no big deal - age 11
Steve on the other hand can barely touch his toes. I have spoken to you in the past about his sleep habits. He is the only one I know in this universe that can actually fall asleep while standing up. Now place this guy in a very WARM room at 5:00 p.m. on a weeknight and you know what happens next right? Yep, my husband morphs into Mr. Savasana in the Snoring Pose.  As I begin to stretch next to him, I hear the familiar sound of his rumbling while others in the room breath deeply. The noise coming from my left is distinct and unmistakable. SO much so that the teacher notices a sleeping participant instantly has she begins the class.
The teacher started with a few stretching floor poses and we slowly stood to begin the leg portion of the class. What's transpiring to my left is that Steve still remains in snoring pose (SP) until 15 minutes into the class when he jolts himself awake from the sound within his head. He looks up with glazed eyes and remembers that he is in a hot room with 50 people who are now standing in Tree Pose (TP). As he realizes that he is the only one who is still lying on the floor he leaps to his feet having the blood rush straight to his head, giving him the sensation which is opposite of "brain freeze" and more like brain melt. Naturally, his awkward balance is even more compromised by jumping upright after sleeping for 20 minutes in a steam bath. In the next moment, the teacher rushes to the stumbling student to see if he is "okay". He balances himself into falling tree position and ends up in a "downward facing idiot" pose instead. And so, it is now my intent to ensure that he stays awake during the relaxation portion of the class ( for safety reasons of course).

There are many other YOGA poses that we practice throughout the class. To be honest, my favorite one is the Wind Relieving Pose (Pavana Mukta Asana). It is with great fervor that I await the one person in the room who takes this pose literally and ACTUALLY expells air during the class.  Hakuna mafarta (no worries).

And then there is the dwipadasHERsasana pose for women. 
Otherwise known as the "I can see my vaginasana". 

OR the dwipadaSIRsasana pose for men, which is also known as the
" Oh look! There's my dickasana".

Either one is challenging, especially if your pants are wedged up your bumasana.

The results of all this twisting, turning and shvitzing is if you make it through the full class without embarrassing yourself by dying you reap the benefits of the following:

 1. STRESS Relief - Most important for someone who is stressed

 2. Inner Peace, Calm and Authentic Happiness - I'm authentically happy now for real - calm and peace don't last more than an hour.

 3. Increased Strength, Physical Conditioning and a Beautiful Posture - not so sure about the posture because after a class I feel like falling forward onto my face.

 4.Weight Loss and Weight Management - I can now use Yoga as a reason to stuff my face with cupcakes

5.Increased Overall Energy - a reason to dance in front of the TV while my downward facing spouse is watching wrestling. 

 6. Improved Sleep - I no longer sketch wedding dresses in my mind as a sleep tool

 7. Heightened Mental and Intuitive Awareness - Yes, I'm aware that on occasion I'm Mental

 8. Improved Hormonal Balance - When you practice at the gates of hell who cares about hormones?

 9. Brain Synchronization and Brain Fitness - my brain is about as synchronized as the traffic lights along a major thoroughfare.

10.Whole Body Detoxification - now this I think is happening....there is no way on earth you are not detoxed when you sweat from places unknown to mankind.

.....and so my yoga journey has begun with a 30 day challenge. I have done 25 classes in the past month and have purchased the correct towel for my waterslide.

I will conclude with one of my short poems that is much too long......

The Yogi says to relax on your back

Your eyes are closed and your hands are slack

One moment you're looking over your back

and with the slightest of turns you're staring right up your neighbour's crack

You twist and turn and feel all your muscles burn

I'm here for what again? To listen to learn?

Your sweat begins to explode from not just one pore

How I wish someone would open a window or even the door.

Your eyes are stinging from the salt of the water

Could this room be any more F'ing hotter?

50 bums in the air with feet overhead

and in the next instant we all look like we're dead.

Downward, upward, sideways and flows

Some are even poised and perched like crows

The goals are set, the stage is wet

Why so many animal names? Was this invented by a vet?

How does that person over there look so limber...

When I'm the only one in tree pose mouthing TIMBER!!?

It's amost one hour into the class

My legs are killing me not to mention my ass

That sweat that started to bloom like a flower?

I ask myself "Why am I here instead of my nice shower"?

The teacher's voice is now very low

She instructs us to close our practice with a bow

Visions of brightness and sprinkle cookies fill my head

While I lie on the floor amongst those playing dead.

I roll up my mat and head out the exit way

another class is over and it's the end of the day

you've read to this point and heard what I've had to say

I wish you peace, love and.....