There is a change afoot in the yoga world that may have purists all tied up in knots. It’s lifting while you lunge or yoga with weights. But c’mon, yoga with weights just seems so, well, counterintuitive. How can you clear your mind when you’re counting reps? But that is just the point. Advocates say it takes a relaxed mind and focus on breathing to be in exactly the right state of mind to get the most out of lifting weights. And weight lifting is a key for all women as they age.
I remember my mom doing yoga in the 70s. I thought she was so W-E-I-R-D. Why couldn’t she play tennis like everyone else’s mother? And the head-to-toe Danskin? But now everyone, including kids, is doing yoga. My son’s third grade teacher taught the kids downward dogs. I have a friend who is teaching yoga to the disabled. Personally, it got me through my divorce.
I just have to say one thing for anyone new to the sport – I mean spirit – of yoga. It isn’t mellow. And people are doing more than throwing weights in to make it harder than it needs to be. Take Bikhram. I thought I was going to die. First of all, I couldn’t believe how bad the place smelled before I even got to the front desk. Try to imagine a professional hockey team’s locker room with a carpet on the floor to soak up sweat as well as any other noxious odors. Now turn the heat up to 114 degrees and watch that sweat turn into steam. Finally, stay in that room for 90 minutes with an instructor who looks like G.I. Jane and WILL NOT LET YOU LEAVE. It really was like working out in an oven.
I guess I have a ‘lazy-fair’ approach to yoga. I don’t worry too much about whether I’m doing it right, I just like the way I feel afterwards. Last week, I did a headstand on a slate floor. That hurt. A few days before I felt like I was in the People’s Republic of China doing morning yoga with 50 people in a public park. I did like being in nature but it turns out I need a level surface…and air conditioning. And I don’t like ants on my mat! One day we did Anasura under a gazebo in a friend’s backyard. And Sunday, I did yoga with two women who just opened their own studio. It was some weird evolution of aerobics, step, stretch and cardio but in no way did it resemble yoga. They were shouting all those Jane Fonda-y “go for the burn” things at us. At least I got a free water bottle.
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