fitness

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.