Yesterday I decided that it was about time to find my qi. Qi (pronounced by Americans as “chi”) seems like a valuable tool to have in my arsenal. But where to find it?
I recalled hearing some hippies talking about their qi once. They said that they found it through stretching; a mysterious and little-known art called yoga.
Of course I’m not being serious. Everyone knows about yoga. You can’t escape it, especially in LA (where I just moved from). There seems to be a studio on every corner filled with hot LA moms. But even with its widespread mainstream appeal, I know very little about yoga. Time to get uncomfortable I thought. Time to stretch my way into enlightenment.
I began to look around for yoga classes in my area and found most studios to be quite expensive. The online advertisements read something like this: “Turn on your inner light” and “Practice yoga and be united with the brightest part of yourself.” Sounds good I thought. That’s something I’d be interested in. But, after calling a couple studios, it was more like: “Become a more spiritual and bright person, for $60 a month.”
I wasn’t about to pay $60 for my qi. I needed the discount qi. I needed the “street” qi.
I found my solution quite accidentally. At the same time I was looking for a yoga studio, I was also looking for a gym membership. I went down to a local gym near my house and proceeded to sign up for a single month, no start-up fees, for $30! These type of deals don’t exist at chain gyms like 24 Hour Fitness.
Not only was it just $30 for a month, the owner let me split the month up. I can train there any four weeks this summer I want to. And, as I was handing him $30 cash and telling him my name (no paper work necessary) I saw that they offered yoga classes. Mon-Fri. Could it get any better?
Stretching is not exactly easy. I’ve neglected it pretty much my whole life up until recently. I have really begun to enjoy it, but it is still not the most comfortable thing in the world. And, from what I had heard, yoga isn’t a walk in the park – making it perfect for an experiment in living uncomfortably.
Walking into the gym the next morning I carried my mom’s rarely used yoga mat and several assumptions. I was betting that:
- everyone would be over 30
- the class would be 95% female
- the instructor would be an eccentric, spandex-wearing-hell-cat
- it was going to hurt!
All of my assumptions were wrong as usual.
Everyone was over 30, yes, but by a little more than I anticipated. The median age of the class had to be in the 70’s. But these grandmas and grandpas could bend in ways their 30 year old counterparts can only imagine.
The female to male ratio was heavily in favor of the uterus carriers. There were 3 guys: one predominant sandal wearer, what looked like a businessman, and me. And there were approximately 15 women so it was more like 83.33% female.
I understand the fact that most men think yoga is ‘gay’ or just for girls, but they’re ones who need it most. Women are much more flexible than males. You don’t hear women grunting every time they sit down and the older females seem to get around much easier than the males. For men there’s a social stigma against stretching. Men should lift weights, women should be flexible so that men can move them into interesting sexual positions. But imagine the possibilities if both parties involved are flexible…
The instructor turned out to be a spandex-wearing-hell-cat. But I did not expect her to be an overweight spandex-wearing-hell-cat. I’m not trying to hate on fat people (in this post at least), but it was shocking to see a pudgy beast bending and contorting like that. It takes skillz to touch your toes with a big belly blocking the way.
The class itself wasn’t bad. We maneuvered ourselves into curious positions named mostly after animals. The cats pose, the dolphin, and the alligator were a few of my favorites. For the most part I got the reference.
The cat’s pose:
It kind of looks like a cat.
The dolphin’s pose:
It could be a dolphin jumping out of the sea, maybe.
The child’s pose:
I don’t get it.
It’s amazing to me how inflexible we are compared to children. Those little shits can squat for hours and lick their toes. I think I could fold my nephew in half and take him around in a briefcase with me if I wanted. I venture to say that most adults can’t touch their toes without a struggle – myself included not too long ago.
Yes, yoga is hard at first, but it’s not nearly as uncomfortable as working out or running. And almost immediately after you’re done with a good stretch, you feel great. In a society that craves instant gratification, yoga is a Godsend. I say give it a try. I’m going back for seconds and thirds.