Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Things that Yoga has Ruined...

Let me start by saying there are a lot of things that yoga has NOT ruined: yoga has not ruined my ability to focus and calm myself down; it has not ruined my sense of well-being or self-esteem (can't say that about yoga advertising, but never mind); it has not ruined my flexibility or strength; it has not ruined my sense of humor or love of irony. But there are several things that it has completely fouled up:

1. My need to keep the feet covered. Get 'em out of the shoes, get 'em out of the shoes! I realized this during class last month, when I had a new student with flat feet who wanted to keep her sneakers on because bare footed was painful with her fallen arches. I was so distracted by her shoes (not aesthetically), because I couldn't conceive of a well-balanced Trikonasana in shoes. She was fine--and has continued coming to class--but it made me feel so unsteady that I realized that I'm undone by the idea of something coming between my foot and the mat. (Take that toesox)

2. My interest in racquet sports. A few years ago I spent a month or two meeting a friend for introductory racquetball. It was fun, but I soon realized how frustrating it was to only be working one arm. One shoulder was warm and glowing, but the other seemed limp and useless. Same thing after soccer or catch with son #1. One leg/arm felt strong and flush, the other--underutilized. I'm so used to doing everything on both sides, that activities giving one limb preference over the other seem cock-eyed. (Not that I'm going to stop backyard sports, but I'm working on my left-hand throw which, surprisingly, is much better when playing football).

3. Heels. Yes, they're sexy and very appropriate with some outfits, but when I try on a pair of high heels and go tottering down the hall I feel like a 13-yr-old getting ready for her first dance. I can't handle all that weight on the balls of my feet and the tightness in my calves. My toes resent getting squished and my knees knock. A mess, to be sure. So I've adopted the kitten heel, which is an attractive silhouette and doesn't throw my alignment off. (When I actually get dressed up, which is probably two times a month, max)

4. Slouching. It's not that I had such rotten posture before yoga, but it ruined draping myself across my favorite chair and watching a movie. I'm super-aware of unsupported parts of the body (lower back, knees) and now have a whole routine with pillows and rolled blankets to support the drape. Very conscious of shoulders when knitting in front of the boob tube--which is probably a good thing, but makes that activity something of a production. Plus, it annoys cats who are trying to snooze on the aforementioned blankets. Popcorn is often spilled. Spouse is crowded.

5. Ignoring discomfort. Sometimes it's easier to pretend you don't notice something that's bugging you, but I can't do that anymore. Why does that shoulder hurt? Where exactly is the pinch? How does that relate to arm position/posture/angle of head/etc? Do I need to do homework in a different chair (see #4)? Can I take an Advil, or is that just delaying the inevitable? What pose helps? Heat or ice? I've never done well with discomfort and now it becomes the source of a great investigation--discoveries filed away for later pedagogical use. It would save time to just grit my teeth and bear it.

And so on. I try to keep my fussing to myself and not force these issues on others (altho it takes great restraint to walk past poorly-executed stretches at the Y or ignore ill-fitting sandals). Some folks just haven't had the pleasure of being ruined by Yoga...

Has it messed you up?


13 comments:

Rebecca said...

Wow, I think of this all the time. First, the heels! I hate them. I think they are the worst invention of all time, followed very, very closely by chairs. I sit in one all day - at my desk and sadly with awful posture - but I hate them. When I teach lawyers, I talk for 5 minutes about how awful chairs and heels are. Some women tell me they cannot imagine not wearing heels. I can barely wear 1-inch heels anymore. Oh well. It does not seem to have hurt me in any way yet.

And I totally agree about noticing pain. I don't know if I am in more pain now than I was when I was 20, but I certainly think about it more. I worry about my tense jaw and my shoulders as earrings. I cannot sit still and wonder why my hips hurt (it's the chair!).

I think the way I would say it is that yoga has ruined ignorance. That is wonderful in so many ways, but it also leads to sometimes wishing I had taken the red pill. Oh well. It has definitely done more good than harm, a lot more good than harm. :)

YogaforCynics said...

Mostly I just find I feel like crap if I go a couple days without it--which, of course, is how I'd feel all the time if I didn't practice...but then I wouldn't know better...

Yogadawg said...

Totally ruined my sense of seriousness...

Fitness Equipment said...

Yoga has the ruined the ego!

Dan said...

Not messed up yet, maybe the smell of the sweaty people next to me has killed some brain cells but thats about it.

Flying Yogini said...

totally agree on the foot thing.. i am obsessed with all four corners at all times, the way i notice my breath and awareness of all the things going on in my body that are different the day before. before yoga i was totally unaware

hirondelle said...

Great post! Yoga has ruined my ability to ignore my breathing. I am very new to yoga but I am already so sensitive to my breath, at work when I am stressed, if I shallow breathe for a few minutes my body starts to rebel and say "nooooo breath slow and deep control your breath and control your emotions". It is rather lovely.e

Mijael "Yoga DVD" Brandwajn said...

I have def. blamed yoga for my new foodie snobbishness. I was sitting at a diner not long ago and ordered waffles. I asked if they had whole wheat, real maple syrup (or real honey), and organic strawberries. They didn't have ANY of those. The person sitting across from me thought I came from Mars (or LA). I came from neither. I was coming from the yoga studio though ;)

alice's adventures said...

So glad to hear that its not just me!!! Yoga has ruined my appreciation for sports! I don't want to learn tennis bc of the imbalance... my boyfriend thought I was crazy.

Y is for Yogini said...

i love this post. and i must agree with the Dawg — i laugh more freely now and don't hide my goofy side. unbelievably freeing.

applebananayoga.com said...

First of all, I just found your blog and it is AWESOME!

I loved this post. How hilarious. I read it earlier in the day and was thinking about it all day. This evening we went to a dance presentation and saw that the dancers were holding microphones the whole time, and I was thinking about your comment that you can't imagine now doing things that only involve one side of the body. I wondered if any of them would end up with frozen shoulders later. Anyway, all of the five hit home.

What yoga has ruined for me is pigging out on cookies, etc.!

Thanks!

Selina said...

"Things that Yoga has Ruined..." is very good post and points those has been pointed here are the very genuine and positive approaches.

harmonyyogapants.com said...

Wonderful article, they all hit home. The heels and the one sided activities definitely hit home.