I have been practicing yoga on and off for 15 years. Fifteen years! I started at Jivamukti Yoga when they were in the funky walk-up studio on Second Avenue in the East Village. Some friends were going to a class, and I joined them. The famous David Life, co-founder of Jivamukti with Sharon Gannon, was my first teacher there. He is an awesome instructor, and though I am quite inflexible, both in body and mind, I was immediately hooked on Jivamukti. I loved looking at his craggy face, ponytail and hoop earrings, and I think he used to wear purple leggings. Or at least I wore some. He was so calm, down to earth, yet spiritual. I came to rely on all the other teachers, too, and the relaxed way I felt after class. (And as it was winter and I was a freelance writer, my evening yoga class also inspired me to leave the apartment and interact with other humans.)
I chanted with Krishna Das, hit some Ananda Ashram retreats and showed up for at least three classes per week. I even learned to do full backbends for the first time in my life! By the time I got married 4 years later, I sometimes made it to class as many as five times a week, literally crawling out of my cubicle at Jane so the managing editor wouldn't catch me and make me stay at work.
After the wedding, I quickly become pregnant. I suffered from terrible morning sickness and was too exhausted to attend a rigorous class. I did a bit of prenatal yoga, and birthed my son with the aid of yoga breathing (and a nice epidural--AWW YEAH!!). When I was on maternity leave I would take him to a "mommy and baby" yoga class. My practice never really returned to its former glory, though. I had a full-time job and a baby, and soon after that a house and a commute.
Weeks after the move to the suburbs, I fell down the stairs while sweeping and broke my foot. I was in a cast for six weeks, and the minute they sawed it off, I was pregnant again. I very occasionally hit a prenatal yoga class. I had not a prayer of achieving a full back bend.
Two folded magazines later, I decided to become a full-time mother. While my daughter was in preschool, I slowly made my way back to yoga at an Anusara studio I can walk to. Like everything else, yoga has to be planned around the kids' schedules.
Okay. That was a lot more about my yoga history than I was planning to write. Here's my bitch: I went to class today, and I feel like crap. I blame this not on the teacher, who is one of the best I've ever known. It's just that I hate partner poses. Hate them. Always have, always will. The purpose of partner poses, in case you don't know from yoga and are still reading (although I don't know why you would be), is to demonstrate proper alignment. But, did I say I hate it? I'm often worried that I'm not doing the assist properly, and yet when the teacher gives instructions, I zone out.
Also, I dread the moment when the teacher says, "find a partner," and certain people don't turn to the person next to them, but instead look around for someone worthy. This happened to me today. The lady next to me, who I recognize from many classes, dissed me for a yogi in the back row. I halfheartedly located a spare person. She complained that she couldn't feel my assist. The assist was literally to squeeze the person's butt (or sits bones, in yoga parlance) simultaneously together and down. Who wants to do that to someone you don't know? And smell their butt smells? I mean, really? No amount of OMing is going to make that ok.
And then my partner proceeded to press down on me so hard that I quite literally have a pain in my ass. Ouch. I know the fact that I don't like partner poses says something negative about me. Perhaps it's that I can't comfortably work with people, trust them, do what they expect of me.
Or maybe I just don't want to smell their butts.