Yoga Attempt #1

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There are many aspects of what I call, with a point of sarcasm, the Neo-Hippie lifestyle, that I have found myself adopting. While I'm too French to ever be able to go vegan, paleo, or gluten-free, I like to eat organic produce, meat and dairy, and I always make sure to buy my eggs pasture-raised because while I am an omnivore, I don't like to think that I'm encouraging animal abuse. I also LOVE the Yogi Teas brand, which I've recently discovered, and drink many cups of every day.

(Disclaimer: this post is NOT sponsored by Yogi Teas!)

I've also professed my love many times to all things New Age, including tarot, crystals, candles, incense, and chakra healing.

So you'd imagine that I'm a naturally accomplished yoga master, and I wake up early every morning to do a two-hour intricate yoga routine.

That's where you'd be dead wrong.

I have never really tried yoga (aside from occasionally doing the poses that come on the Yogi Teas packages), or much less taken a class, even if I have had the occasion to take a free one several times in my life.

Until yesterday, that is.

In the afternoon, I had to stop halfway through my workout at the gym (I love using the elliptical and the rowing machines) and return home to stay with my cousins for about an hour until their parents got back from work.

We spend most of that time creating "flubber" out of a mix of white glue, laundry detergent and food colouring (at her age, I would have been thrilled to know it was possible to make flubber, which for me had a value similar to gold back then, at home!) (yes, I was a weird kid) (and yes, I insisted to make my flubber pink).

But after the novelty of creating non-Newtonian fluids has rubbed off, and after making plans for a week-end beach trip with just me and the girls, I find myself wondering out loud whether I should do some exercise while waiting until I could get back to the gym and finish my workout.

Twenty seconds later, while my cousin has taken a yoga mat (adorned with stickers) out of her closet and laid it on the floor, I've propped my iPhone horizontally against the leg of a furniture, and it's playing the first video that came up when I typed "yoga routine for beginners".

I am now emulating a perfectly fit, toned Youtuber, and trying to remain serious and centered ("head over heart", "heart over pelvis"), while I'm sitting with my legs crossed, and my cousin is watching with a little smile on her face.

But when the girl says to take a "juicy" breath, both my cousin and I burst out in hysterical laughter.

I try to keep up, determined to still do that twenty-minute work-out no matter how short of breath I'm likely to become because of the intermittent laughter at the somewhat-comic terms the Youtuber (which my cousin has nicknamed Juicy Andrea*) uses.

There's also the fact that a certain number of poses reminded me of one I had seen in Cosmo's Lesbian Kama Sutra, and it's very hard to take the image off my mind, although sweating on a yoga mat is hardly sexy.

And once I am in the downward dog position, it seems to be the opportune moment for my cousin to shake a bag of gummy bears in front of my head (towards which blood is rushing very heavily).

Afterwards, when I am back in a standing position, I am supposed to be focusing on my posture, on feeling balanced and grounded, but the "juicy breathing" metaphor comes back and my cousin and I just burst in laughter.

When I realise with relief that the 20-minute video is over, I accept that I just can't mix spirituality with physical exercise, they're just two different worlds for me. When I'm on the elliptical machine, I am usually playing opera on my iPod and I just like to zone out, stop thinking, let my body carry on the movement without having to focus on my chakras being aligned.

As to the physical exercises, I used to do them regularly when I took ballet classes, as part of stretching before moving onto barre work. And I can assure you no ballet teacher in their right mind will tell you not to worry about doing the movement perfectly, or to breathe into it and express your personality.

What remains of the ballerina in me will tell you that it does feel good to stretch your body in all directions, even if it can be hard if you're rusty. But I'd rather just call it stretching and not yoga. I am just not buying the cultural appropriation, and, forgive me, but the fakeness of the spirituality that isn't one. Meditation is something (that I do more or less often), and exercise is something else. I like to keep both of them strictly separate.

I returned later on to the gym and just did a whole elliptical workout from the start (I don't need to be begged to use the elliptical!), while listening to Jonas Kaufmann's Puccini album and watching the Democratic Convention. I know, it's a peculiar mix, but it works for me!

Let's say that I will keep, gladly, drinking Yogi tea, but will accept that yoga isn't for me*.

Next time, I'll let you know what happens when I try Zumba!


*Her name isn't Andrea, but something like it. I had momentarily forgotten it when my cousin asked me, and the nickname stuck.

**For now, that is. Let's just admit that the conditions in which this initial contact took place weren't exactly ideal, with my flubber-making cousins and hilarity ensuing. Stay tuned for an Attempt #2... But not immediately.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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