Wednesday, March 12, 2008


It's Wednesday, so that must mean I went to yoga today.

I've been meaning to post about this awesomely funny yoga blog for the longest time now, but I always seem to have something more important to post. Huh? What could be more important to post about than yoga, a critical part of my ongoing quest to reclaim The Happy Girl?

Yoga is definitely on The Happy Girl's to-do list.

With that in mind, today is the day. I went to yoga and I want to talk yoga, so here it finally is:

The blog I love is called

It features hilarious pictures and witty running commentary of action figures doing Ashtanga Yoga. The blogger, Elastigirl, was kind enough to allow me to use some of her photos here today so I could better describe my own yoga experiences.

I mean, who wants to see me awkwardly (and incorrectly) doing yoga poses in my living room when you can see action figures doing it better? And funnier?

Although me doing yoga is pretty funny, I have to admit.

So... on with the story.

Linda and I dropped off our crazy/beautiful girls at preschool this morning and headed off to yoga. As usual, Linda and I both talk a mile-a-minute at each other upon the realization that we get two solid hours of quality adult time. It's so exciting that we can hardly contain ourselves. Actually, I usually do most of the talking and Linda (happily?) does most of the listening. I guess that's why I like her so much.

Of course, we always stop and pick up a couple of sandwiches from the most awesome deli ever, then we proceed to yoga class. (No, we don't eat the sandwiches before class. I can't even imagine doing some of the postures with a belly full of marinated roasted veggies with chicken on a fresh baked daily French baguette. Urp.)

It's just the two of us in the class and our instructor often shoots us stern looks as Linda and I chat and giggle our way through the pre-class routine of setting up the mats and striping off our socks. I suppose we're meant to get into some sort of quiet trance, but Linda and I just want to have a good time and move our bodies for an hour. Stringency is not at the top of our priority list.

Moving on.

Actually, not moving on. I should put a disclaimer in here.

DISCLAIMER: I know virtually nothing about yoga. In fact, I pretty much suck at it. I love it even though I have no idea what I am doing and I'm the least flexible person on the planet. What I do know about yoga could fit into a thimble. What this means is that you should not, under any circumstances, try to do these yoga moves based on my totally inadequate descriptions and a bunch of snapshots of action figures. To do so would make you a complete idiot and you'd probably hurt yourself. I don't want you to hurt yourself. Yoga should only be attempted under the guidance of a trained professional. Got it?

Okay. Now moving on.

We always start in a sitting pose with quiet breathing and some calming Oms. I usually try to get 'nsync (even though I don't love you anymore Justin) with the universe and feel the vibration of the beautiful trees and the majestic North Shore mountains with my Oms. I know this may sound like esoteric crap, but I love it. I genuinely believe in the energy and vibration of all living things and Om definitely helps me to connect with it.

After a sitting pose, some Oms and a few other limbering up moves, we often transition early on into a Forward Bend, which looks something like this:

If you're really bendy (like Linda and our instructor), then you look more like Silver Surfer, all folded over neatly with your back and legs straight and you fingers touching the floor or your toes.

If you're wound tighter than a cheap watch, like me, then you look more like Storm Shadow (the white and red dude) all awkward and just about to fall over. I can't even touch my toes, let alone bend myself in half like you're supposed to. Does it sound like I'm enjoying this?

Well, I really do. It's like golf to me. I suck at golf too, but I love getting out there and trying. I especially love the idea that I can get better too.

Another pose we often transition through on the way to other postures is Downward Facing Dog. I'd love to know who came up with some of these names. Many yoga postures are named after animals because of their resemblance to that animal or as a symbolic representation of a quality of that animal.

I have to say I've never seen a Downward Facing Dog. Could somebody explain this to me? Dog owners? A little help here?

Anyway, I'm becoming fond of Downward Facing Dog. It looks like this:

I actually used to find this pose challenging, but I'm starting to enjoy it as my strength and flexibility increases. Once again, Bendy Linda and our limber instructor resemble Silver Surfer dude with their legs straight and their heels pressed right to the floor, while I remain awkwardly, Storm Shadow, who can't even straighten his foot at all. Although, I am happy to report that I have both my feet, unlike Storm Shadow. Oh, and our instructor, represented here by orange and green Aquaman, also has all her limbs.

One of my favourite postures is often preceded by one of my least favourite postures. Seen here: I do not know why I find Warrior 1 so challenging. For some reason I can't keep my balance when I am doing it 'correctly'. If my hips are forward and aligned and my hands are up and reaching for the ceiling, I feel like my whole body is long and lean and... about to topple over. I just can't seem to spread my weight properly on my feet so I that don't start swaying from side to side until I loose my balance completely.

Me doing Warrior 1 was especially funny to watch when I had labrynthis and literally had no balance whatsoever. You should have seen me tumble then. Hardi har har.

So. For those of you keeping score. I can't do any of the aforementioned postures successfully or properly.

But then, alas, we finally transition into Warrior 2. Dear sweet Warrior 2: that which makes me feel strong and powerful and limber and alive. Oh, how I love you Warrior 2. You alone, quite possibly, are the reason I continue to do yoga.

Here's what it looks like:

See how strong and powerful Silver Sufer looks? Well that's me doing Warrior 2. For some reason, I easily find my place with Warrior 2. My body just slides into it naturally. I never loose my balance (well, almost never) and I shift my hips and my weight falls easily into place. With my head held high, I breath deeply and feel... like a warrior. For those five breaths every class I feel like I can conquer the world.

And I love it.

As a golfer, it's just like that one great shot each round that keeps you coming back for more punishment. You can lose ten balls into the bushes, but that one perfect putt, or that one long, straight drive will bring you back again and again.

Oh, but how quickly the feeling fades. Wonk wonk wonk.

After a few more postures, we usually at some point end up at Cobra. Ugh. And again with the animal names. Although I do understand this one. Have a look and see what I mean:

It actually resembles a Cobra.

Here, Storm Shadow is in fact doing a better job than Silver Surfer. He's got his heart forward and looks strong and confident. Of course, I usually look more like Silver Surfer: dazed and confused, wondering why my back feels like hell and my arms are still weak little twigs after three years of carting around our 200 pound daughter.

It makes no sense to me.

I suck at Cobra. I usually grunt the whole way through it.

That's about it.

After a few more moves, we roll around on our backs a bit, add a few more twisty bendy moves and then move on to Shivasna. That's where we lay on the floor, flat on our backs and return to normal breathing. As you can imagine, I love Shivasna. It's easy. I can do Shivasna.

But Shivasna isn't what keeps me coming back.

Life isn't about the easy stuff.

It's about getting better and trying harder. It's about my growing love for Forward Bend and my increased strength and flexibility from week to week during Downward Facing Dog. And it's about my future mastery of Warrior 1 and my future affection for Cobra.

And it's definitely about feeling like a Warrior for at least five breaths every week.

Did you notice the big sign I made at the top of this post that said, "I heart Yoga. Do you?"

Well, I've said why I heart yoga. Now it's your turn. Do you?

By the way,

This post wouldn't have been the same without you.


YogaDawg said...

YogaBeans is the best!

Jan said...

I think I created a new yoga pose while laughing so hard at those action figures. That was so great Carolyn. I think you have made me really consider yoga now. I thought you were going to share a new organic healthy bean at first. You make my day.

ciara said...

i've tried yoga in the comfort of my own home before. a beached whale in a yoga studio don't mix. anyways, yoga kind of bored me especially with everyone talking so slow and relaxing. it's a little too relax for my taste. i prefer belly dancing, which i do in private as well because sometimes after i've done the dance move, my belly does it right after. pilates is also good.

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

*waves hello* Found my way here from RC.

I think I just wee'd myself laughing at this post. Thank you for brightening my afternoon!

"Downward Facing Dog" - I think, in dog terms, that would translate as "play-bowing"! Does that help? No, didn't think so!

softinthehead said...

Down facing dog had another conotation in my mind - and you don't want him to lick you afterwards!! Very good post, loved the figures and the descriptions :)