Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I'm not the world's most passionate man

I go to a free yoga class at the Y every Tuesday night, when I can. KB keeps Tuesday nights open on his work calendar so he's home and I can go. It doesn't work out every week - if there's something else I have to do (like, say, a Zoning Board Hearing) then I don't make it. But I try to go as often as I can.

I went tonight, and because it's the Y and it's free (if you're a member), there are certain things about the class that aren't the greatest. The room, for example. We meet in the gymnasium, which is used during the day for kids' activities, and by the time our class rolls around at 7:30pm, the floor is a fairly gross minefield of assorted food crumbs and various manifestations of dirt. You usually have to shake your mat out after class before you roll it up, lest you bring some nice dried mud and Cheez-It crumbs home with you.

Also, because it is a gym, the room is cavernous, and sometimes our instructor's voice seems to float away into the ether. We'll be holding a pose and I'll start to think, "Gee, we've been in Downward Dog for a long time," and then I look around and realize everyone has moved on to a Sun Salutation and I just didn't hear her say anything.

But, on the plus side, the instructor is a very nice fifty-ish hippie lady with dyed black hair and lots of scarves and interesting shoes, and the class itself is fairly slow-paced and very relaxing. Nothing too strenuous. I always feel pleasantly loose and floaty when class is over, like my spine is back in its rightful position and I can breathe properly again. So that's good. And it's free.

Tonight the problem was The New Guy. Now, The New Guy isn't necessarily always a guy - it can be a girl. Because this is an ongoing, free, drop-in-as-you-please kind of class, the cast of regulars undergoes some shifting on a pretty constant basis, although there's a few of us who have been there since they started offering it. Every couple weeks or so, we'll get somebody who's never done yoga before, and, perhaps more importantly ('cause I'd never done yoga before this class, despite living in SoCal for six years) really has no idea what yoga entails. Sometimes this new person watches and learns and fits themselves into the rhythm of the class, and sometimes...sometimes not.

So The New Guy tonight was as stereotypical a Big Dumb New England Guy as they come. Fat, tall, giant belly, crew cut, Red Sox sweatshirt, everything. Physically, he reminded me of no one so much as Bobby Baccalieri, except with the "pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd" accent instead of the Joisey accent. I don't know what exactly made him think yoga might be the thing for him, but I could tell from the beginning of class that he was going to be a problem.

He talked. A lot. To himself, ("Oooooh, I'm outta shape.") to the teacher, ("Like this?" about EVERY move), to other students, ("This is where we're supposed to let go of all our worries, huh?") to nobody in particular ("This mat is too small for me.") It was tremendously annoying. Did he just not notice that NO ONE ELSE IS TALKING EXCEPT FOR THE TEACHER?

I don't know why some people don't...I don't know, observe first, before trying to impose their personality on a group they're trying to join. I can't think of the right way to say it...I guess because when I'm entering a new situation, I tend to observe the other people and see how they're acting and try to work with the way things seem to be going. Not that I'm a great model of how to be sociable and interact with other people - heck, I'm not even a mediocre model of that. I just mean - I guess I mean that there are rules, dammit, and you should watch and try to figure out the rules before you go blundering around smashing them all to hell.

So here comes this big dumb lummox of a guy talking a blue streak and groaning noisily and sitting too close to the teacher so half the room can't see her and FARTING, not once but twice and not even excusing himself or acknowledging it in any way, and it was excruciating.

At one point, when we were in Downward Dog he said, "This is kind of like you're gonna hike a football," and it was such a stereotypical big dumb lummox-y thing to say that I started to laugh. And then it was like when you're laughing in church and you know you're not supposed to and that just makes you laugh harder. Luckily I was able to get myself under control - I think if I had made eye contact with anyone else in the class I would have lost it, but it's pretty hard to make eye contact with someone in Downward Dog. Plus, it's really not like hiking a football. AT ALL. I tried really hard to find some sympathy for the guy in my heart, to think open-minded, loving, yoga-esque thoughts like, "We are all human beings here" and "He deserves to be here just as much as the rest of us," but it was pretty hard.

Even the farting isn't so awful that I can't forgive it. I mean, it's a natural bodily function, it's 75% involuntary, I'd say, and when you put your body in a certain position sometimes, sure, you're gonna fart. What are you gonna do? I can get past that (although it does make it hard to "breathe deeply on the next inhale" as our teacher would have us do). It's the voluntary things, like talking all the time and trying to constantly command the teacher's attention (when there are 8 other students in the room with you) that drive me crazy.

So I'm guessing he won't be back. He was probably just as uncomfortable as we were and knew he wasn't fitting in. In a way I felt bad and felt like I was being part of the Cool School crowd and ostracizing the New Kid, but mostly I was just pissed off.

He was fucking with my relaxation, god dammit!

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Kizzle said...

I've also had such-like intruders in many of my yoga classes as well and it becomes very distracting. It's especially frustrating because one of the very important lessons that yoga teaches us is Awareness - of oneself and of one's surroundings. Clearly this guy is not aware of himself and is indifferent at best of his surroundings. But one thing I try to keep in mind when I encounter such creatures, is how wonderful that they have chosen to try the path of yoga and that it will take time, but they will eventually learn that their current behavior is not conducive to achieving the benefits they seek in yoga. I also try to remember the focus that yoga teaches us to practice, which enables me to pay attention to my body rather than the uninvited noises. This brings relaxation and can be extended to other situations where there is a lot of "noise".

I also try to remember what the Zen masters teach their students: During meditation practice, there are many students in a single room. Some students are able to achieve stillness with more success than others. And the ones that are not, usually end up annoying others with their incessant fidgeting, talking to themselves and the like. The masters teach that having compassion for oneself and those that annoy is an important part of the practice because it is in that compassion that one learns the source of why they're bothered by the "annoyers" and why the "annoyers" feel compelled to be so unaware or unable to sit in stillness. That leads to self-discovery and healing which leads to contentment.

I try to keep these things in mind when I'm in a yoga class as well as at work or on the road. It's hard, but it's why we "practice". :)