What I Learned About Myself Doing Office Yoga (Guest Post)

Ah yoga! Not a day goes by without an article about its benefits showing up on Facebook, Twitter, or Google News. It’ll cure your depression, lower your stress, increase your flexibility, and lower your risk of heart disease. And yet, I haven’t done yoga — sorry, practiced yoga, because, as the Sean Bean/LotR meme says, one does not simply do yoga — in almost ten years.

I used to practice yoga at least once a week. I had a stressful job, and it took the edge off. The alcohol also helped that the edge off, but that’s a different story. Anyways, once I left the stressful job, and changed gyms, I stopped doing — sorry, practicing — yoga. The new gym didn’t have classes at a convenient time, and my job was pretty chill.

Instead I started strength training.

I don’t do the cool strength training where you deadlift 300lbs for feminism; I do the cheap strength training where you do 50lbs rows on a machine to make sure you don’t aggravate the snapped nerve in your arm. But that’s an entirely different story.

Recently the office building I work in decided that it wanted all its tenants to be happy, healthy people, and started offering free lunchtime yoga classes.

My coworkers, who are very concerned by the fact that I am a rather uptight individual who spends most of her time drinking coffee and screaming “fuck” at a computer screen, encouraged me to go.

I protested. I told them that I’d rather be having lunch during my lunch hour, complaining to everyone online about how much I hate my computer. (It really is a very annoying computer!) But they insisted. They told me it would do me good: It would chill me out, make me feel refreshed, give me energy for the rest of the day, and make me less of a pain in the ass to work with.

So I dug up my old yoga mat — which now had a rather odd texture — and went to a class.

It was an eye-opening experience. I learned a lot about myself.

I Need To Chill

I spent most of my time in yoga feeling pretty stressed out.

The “music” played during yoga drives me up the wall! Why must it always be the weird sounds of waves-crashing-plus-seagulls? Does this relax anyone? Has anyone ever felt relaxed while seagulls were swarming their sandwiches? Did the person capturing these sounds get pooped on as they were doing so? If so, were they relaxed?

This is all that goes through my mind as the instructor tells us to close our eyes and clear our minds or centre ourselves or whatever he said because I couldn’t pay attention because I was too busy worrying if whether the person who captured these seagull sounds had to wash gull poop out of their hair when they got home.

But then we move on, and start our sun salutations, and I forget about the seagull poop.

It’s all going OK until the instructor tells us that the next move will wring the toxins out of our spines. I stage whisper that this isn’t the way the spine works.

I start getting angry as we move into some other pose that apparently will flush the plaque from our arteries.

I start wishing that I had not forgotten my yoga blocks in the office so I could pitch one at the instructor.

I would have certainly been thrown out of the class for pitching a yoga block at the instructor. Then I could have gone to get some lunch.

But alas, here I am, yoga-block-less and getting high blood pressure. Maybe it will flush the toxins from my heart.

I Need To Learn To Be OK With Boredom

Yoga is very boring.

As with the 1990s Vogueing craze, yoga basically involves striking a pose and holding it.

Unlike the Vogueing craze, though, the poses are held for too long, and I am having to play my own funky dance music in my mind to keep me from just getting up and leaving the class to do something more interesting with my time.

I am not suited for this level of boredom.

The last time I was in a yoga class, I had just given birth. My core was wrecked. My quads were jello. My glutes were gone. Every pose was a challenge.

But now I’m almost ten years post-partum. I can move every one of my core muscles independently. I can bounce quarters off my quads. My glutes don’t fit into my jeans. Every pose was about as challenging as standing in line at Starbucks, which is what I could have been doing if I had just remembered my yoga blocks.

On the plus side, I did discover that strength training does make you flexible. So at least there’s that.

I Have a Very Strong Anti-Authoritarian Instinct

My coworkers told me that I had a bad attitude going in and that’s why I didn’t get the most out of my practice. They told me that if only I had had an open mind, and didn’t just want to scream at the instructor, I could have gotten more out of it. They told me I should stick with it, but be less Rebel Without a Cause about it.

I’m sure they’re right. But in the end, I just really don’t like yoga anymore. And I don’t see the point of doing an activity I don’t like. My time is too precious to waste doing an activity I would rather not be doing.

But my coworkers insisted that yoga is the Best Thing Evah, and would make my life more complete. They would not take, “I don’t like it and don’t want to go to it” as an answer. So I had no choice but to ritually burn my yoga mat in their presence to show them I was serious.

PS: I did not burn my yoga mat; I used it to line the trunk of my car.

Sandra is an office worker with loose feminism who can be found at the gym on occasion. Her workouts mostly consist of complaining about every exercise she does. Sometimes she goes to Zumba class and tries not to cause a human cascade.

13 thoughts on “What I Learned About Myself Doing Office Yoga (Guest Post)

  1. Fantastic post! I’m glad to hear that someone else doesn’t love “The Yoga”. The thought process was hysterical and so relate-able (? – it’s a word, look it up. Just give me 5 minutes.).
    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Yoga is not for everyone. And it is so much more than poses in a class.

    For me, it is a way of life that has helped me through sobriety, severe anxiety and deep depression (I take medication too. Yoga does not cure everything). The philosophy forms the basis for my day and my motivations. This does not mean I am a peace loving vegan….but I try to act with honesty, compassion and focus.

    It took me a long time to be ok sitting still. It’s not easy. And so I teach a 90 minute yoga class that all seated or lying. It’s a break from the constant draws on our time. From overstimulation.

    I have been to many classes I didn’t like. Not all yoga is the same. Not all teachers are the same. I often play Metallica and finger death punch. Or no music.It’s good to experiment.

    Yes. It is a practice because it is a lifelong experience.

    Maybe you get that same peace of mind and inner contentment from weight lifting. Or running. Or reading. Or going out in nature. There are so many ways to relax and reconnect with our inner self.

    Stillness and peace

  3. I don’t share your dislike of yoga but yoga talk can drive me around the bend. I need a yoga class that’s low on bad metaphysics and woo talk! I also need a class with some respect for body diversity, that’s not all about “yoga bodies.” And I don’t think I’d like lunch hour yoga at all. But there is yoga in the park in my neighbourhood and it’s low key and relaxed. Ditto yoga with goats!

  4. This is a great post. The upshot: there is something for everyone, and yoga is not for you. It always astonishes me when people try to insist that just because they love something everyone else must love it too. Personally, I do love yoga. But I could relate to some of your experience (the music! the toxins!) anyway. Thank you for telling your office yoga story in such a funny, light-hearted way.

  5. I love yoga, have been a practitioner for > 20 years, and am coming up on my 2 year anniversary of daily yoga asana practice next week. As Anne and Sam mentioned above, however, not all yoga is the same. My yoga practice is very athletic. (Yoga is my primary form of strength, balance, and mobility training.) It’s also grounded in science. Not fantasy. I’m pretty sure I would hate the class you describe and share many of your feelings about it.

    The nature sounds/music would not bother me, I love being near water, I do find the sound of waves crashing against a shore relaxing, and I’m not worried about seagulls. (I don’t typically eat and practice yoga asana at the same time, so gulls swarming my sandwich is not an issue, and bird poop washes off easily enough.) The woo-woo talk however…

    These days I almost exclusively practice yoga at home. Sometimes I sequence my own choreography. Most often I work with training videos from Cody. The videos have many benefits for me: I can do them when they fit with my schedule. I can choose a class length that’s suitable for the time and energy I have available. I get to choose the focus for the class I’m going to do on any given day. I am assured the content of the class will be a good fit with my personal training level and style preferences. And I am assured always an instructor whose teaching style I like.

    Even with all of these benefits pretty much ensuring me a class I will enjoy, the videos have one other big advantage for me over a live class: if the instructor does say something that sets me off, I don’t need to keep my comments under my breath. If I was in a public yoga class, and the instructor started talking about the detoxifying powers of spinal twists, I probably would not throw yoga blocks at them. But there’s a pretty good chance I would say out loud–possibly loudly enough for everyone in the studio to hear–“That’s a load of pseudoscience bunk with no basis in objective reality.”

    I worry about people who accept everything their yoga instructor tells them without question, as if being able to trace one’s yoga lineage directly back to Krishnamacharya somehow bestows upon them the ability to transmogrify verbal BS into gold. I think you had a better attitude about that yoga class than your co-workers.

  6. I’m a big believer in people doing what feels comfortable for them, regardless of what media or other people say. I’m a runner, and sometimes people feel the need to explain why they don’t like running but ‘should’ — to which I tell them, if you don’t like it, don’t do it! I am fairly experienced at yoga but am somewhat fairweather because it’s so expensive. I’m what I call a yoga scavenger, someone who only shows up to the $5 special classes and free ones 🙂

  7. I absolutely love you for writing this! I have once attempted to tell my female aquaintances in passing how I feel about yoga and golf. Both should be done way later in life. And boy the look I got for implying yoga is easy from the feminist put an end to that. I am so glad you are going strength training and have such awesome view as me. And I hope all your 18,994 followers read this and internalise it and have an open mind.

  8. This post is brilliant! I actually really enjoy yoga, but only certain kinds – the more athletic ones with an instructor who doesn’t bullshit me with pseudo-scientific crap. I once went to a class where the instructor read (!) all the health benefits of each asana we were doing off a sheet. I nearly went insane.

  9. There is more than one kind of yoga, and many instructors in the world. Keep an open mind, give something else a try one time. You might find something you enjoy. Or stay uptight and angry if that’s working for you! No exercise is compulsory once you’re an adult.

  10. While I used to practise regularly and felt good about doing something, things eased off when injuries (maybe related) started. Now am doing chair yoga and feel calm at the end. For me, it’s the people and the teacher. I’m okay, not doing it but glad I introduced daughters to it-for them it helps their mood. All in all, you cracked me up with this post-even better for exercising-laughter that is.

  11. I’ve had similar yoga experiences, only my frustration with them comes from turning a practice that increases core strength and flexibility into some cardio-intensive “flow” workout that involves too much of my blood rushing to my head, either from gravity or embarrassment. I’ll stick with my solo strength training activities — much more meditative and less foam block throwing.

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