I’ve mentioned a few times that I am a fan of yoga–I have, right? Or did I just mention it in my About section? Whatever, I am. Last Friday I did yoga at the Sears Tower with my mom and my friend Mary.
Believe it or not, I was not always the yogi master I am today. And so our story begins…
My mom and I are extremely close. We always have been. I never really went through that, my-mother-is-the-most-annoying-human-on-the-face-of-the-Earth phase that many teenage girls do. Instead, my mom was my confidant, my shoulder to cry on, my best friend. I wrote about her for my college application essay, and I talked to her every other day throughout college.
So when I moved home my senior year of college to student teach, we were very excited to be back together again. We decided to do something fun and different for Mother’s Day. I found a Groupon for a yoga and chocolate event for mother-daughter pairs. I thought to myself, “I’ve never done yoga. But, how hard could it be? Isn’t it just stretching? …There’s chocolate! Yep, let’s do it.”
The event was the Saturday before Mother’s Day. When we arrived, we discovered a couple of things:
- We were supposed to bring yoga mats. We didn’t even own yoga mats.
- We were going to be barefoot. And couldn’t remember the last time we got pedicures.
- There was no chocolate. Anywhere.
“What is that smell?”
“I think it’s your feet, Bex.”
“Where is the chocolate?”
“LIES. It was all just a ploy!”
Then the class began. The instructor came in wearing Aladdin-esque pants– let’s call her Flo, shall we? And I remember thinking to myself, “What have I gotten us into?”
“Welcome,” Flo said in her delicate, airy voice, “Let’s begin in seated meditation. Cross your legs into a comfortable pose. Rest your hands on you knees, palms up to welcome energy, and close your eyes. Listen to your breath.”
I was bored within thirty seconds. I opened my eyes to peek over at my mom. Her eyes were closed, and she had a crease in her forehead, like she was concentrating very hard. I looked around at the other mother-daughter combos in the class; they all had their eyes closed and looked much more relaxed than I felt.
I looked back at my mom. Her eyes were open, too. We locked eyes. And that’s when it happened: a giggle escaped into the silent room. I immediately turned back to the front of the room, closing my eyes and trying again to focus.
Then we began to move.
“Slowly move from your seated space, onto all fours. Table-top position. Take cat-cow. Follow your breath.”
I looked around again, everyone was moving, arching their backs and then hollowing out. I followed suit, not sure if I was doing it right. I kept looking up and over at the women around me.
“Lift onto your toes, into downward facing dog,” Flo guided us. Once again, I looked around to see what everyone else was doing. Oh! I know this one! And I hopped into it, feeling quite proud.
I glanced over to my mom, who looked back at me, “I know this one!” she said excitedly.
Then Flo told us to move into a plank. What fresh hell is this? I thought you only did planks in torturous workout classes!
“Bring your right knee to your right wrist,” Flo told us, moving stealthily around the room. “Bring it back up, one-legged dog.”
Huh? I peeked out underneath my armpit. My neighbor had one leg in the air, in an upside down v-shape. I peeked out underneath my other armpit. My mom was also in the upside down v-shape, lifting one leg, and then the other, not sure which one to keep up. I snorted and she looked over at me, dropping to her knees.
“What am I supposed to be doing?”
“Now, bring your right knee up to your left leg,” Flo said nonchalantly, like this was no work at all. We sprung back up into our v-shape.
I thought yoga was just stretching… this is hard!
Finally, back in regular, has all of its legs, dog, I whisper-whined over to my mom, “I just want some chocolate.”
She stuck her tongue out at me in response.
We arrived in child’s pose at some point, and I thought to myself, Ok, excellent, yes, I can do this. I laid there, resting my head on the mat, hoping it was over.
“I like this one!” my mom whispered. Giggles ensued.
But then we started moving again. This time on our legs.
“Rise up to warrior II. Arms spread in a t-shape. Tuck your pelvis. Knee directly over the ankle.” There were a lot of directions for this one.
I peered over at my mom; we exchanged a cross-eyed look and a giggle, and carried on, pretending to have the slightest idea of what we were doing.
Our final pose was a partner tree pose.
Flo started walking us through the setup: “Stand hip to hip.” Already we were goofing off– hip bumping and swaying, with our arms around each other.
“Now, lift your outside legs to your inner calf or inner thigh.” Thinking I was bendy enough, I tried to pull my left leg up into my inner thigh like the girl in front of me. Rather than looking graceful, I keeled over, pulling my mother down with me.
In typical fashion, we burst into laughter in a further display of our lack of serenity.
Flo came over to help us set up.
“First time, ladies?” she quietly asked with a wink.
“How could you tell?”
Once Flo showed us how to get into the pose, resting our feet on our calves, helping to build up the balance needed, we held the pose for about half a second, grasping on to each other for dear life. Afterwards, Flo let us lay back onto our mats.
She then guided us into happy baby pose, which I appreciated not only because of its name, but also because it was easy and fun to do.
“Massage your back, roll side to side, stretch your legs out long. Take a little play time.”
I was thoroughly enjoying holding my feet and rolling back and forth when I heard a noise escape from nearby. It wasn’t loud, but it was distinct.
Oh my God. That was a fart. Was it me? No, I didn’t feel it. Oh my God, is that what yoga does to you? No. It definitely wasn’t me. Oh my God who was it?!
My eyes darted over to my mom, and she did the same. Again we locked eyes. And as childish as it was, another giggle escaped. And then a second. Sealing our lips and attempting to laugh silently, we once again tried to play it cool.
Flo told us to lay on our backs, for corpse pose, which sounded a little morbid to me, but then I realized how wonderful it was because all I had to do was lay there.
“I’m so good at this one,” I whispered over to my mom.
“Not as good as me,” she replied, keeping her eyes closed.
And then, finally, after an hour of doing stuff, Flo brought in the chocolate.
Sadly, this is not the “we ate the chocolate and left” happily ever after you (and we, at the time) were hoping for. Rather, Flo passed out three chocolate squares to each person, but we weren’t to eat them yet.
Flo told us, “Close you eyes. Let the chocolate melt on your tongue,” (I had already started chewing,) “Savor each flavor as it does. Let your taste buds do the work.”
I found it was a lot more work than I usually spent eating my chocolate, but being the rule-follower that I am, followed her instructions.
“Take notice of how the chocolate feels as it melts. Imagine it in your mind.” I peeked over at my mom, who was already looking at me, a soft smile on her lips. But actually, it was kind of nice. (The chocolate was deeeeeliciousssss.)
We walked out of class, laughing at ourselves, at how silly we felt, at the fact that we didn’t get kicked out, but also at how much fun we had. That was the point anyways: to be together and have a good time. In the end, we decided that we were yogi masters.
It’s a good thing we have no trouble laughing at ourselves. Which we did that day. A lot. Rather than getting flustered, we kept a (mostly) positive attitude and had fun with it.
Secondary point: never shut something out just because you don’t get it the first time you try it. After this experience, I didn’t try yoga again for a few years, but when I finally did I discovered how much I love it. Yoga brings me peace and serenity, and it makes me feel strong– something I had never really found in my physical self before.
I love the way yoga brings strength to my mind and my body.
And I know my mom feels the same way; as I am writing this, today is her 391st day of doing yoga. Let me repeat that: 391 days IN. A. ROW. She’s a badass.
And we are still yogi masters.