Yoga: I don’t bend that way

I have never been a fan of yoga and it’s not for lack of trying. I took my first class through Decidedly Jazz Danceworks in the late 90s and I always forgot to “focus on the breath.” I tried post-partum yoga in the mid-aughts at the Talisman Centre and found it was difficult to hold poses and “be at one with the breath” (again with the breathing!) while my infant shrieked beside me. Determined to benefit from the healing powers of this ancient practice I even joined a weekly class at a neighbour’s house where I finally realized the problem: Not only do I have no clue about “being present” and “quieting the mind” and “synchronizing my lungs to Downward Dog,” I’m basically too bendy. One day, I knew, I would hurt myself doing yoga. That day came last week.

Whilst perusing our daily activities menu at the Four Seasons Punta Mita we saw a Tuesday morning class for Yoga on The Rock. Yoga on The Rock! Who wouldn’t want to salute the sun and strive for quad steeliness in Warrior I while posing on the flat top of a picturesque promontory overlooking the Pacific Ocean? Sign me up! I felt that in Mexico, under the caress of the tropical sun and buoyed by the salty kiss of the humid sea air I could finally get this yoga thing figured out.

Warning: don't try the cobra at home, or ever.

Warning: don’t try yoga at home. Or anywhere.

We took our places on yoga mats and, for the latecomers, beach towels, on a grassy knoll atop The Rock. The toned instructor reminded us that “yoga is not a competition” and to go at our own pace. “There’s no shame if you can’t hold a pose or need to rest.” She demonstrated Child’s Pose to show us how.

We started out with Downward Dog. How good it felt to stretch my calves and hamstrings so early on a holiday morning! We moved into Cobra. How nice to arch my back in a way I hadn’t since Grade 5 gymnastics! Next came the Warrior poses. How shaky my legs felt; how thankful I was not to have a hangover!

With each new pose and sequence I stretched more and pushed harder. The sun rose higher and its gentle caress turned into a forceful backhand. I felt the sweat trickling into my eyes, but I didn’t care.  I was winning at yoga — no Child’s Pose for me!

After the class, while relaxing under a beach palapa, I got to thinking how I’d like to take up yoga in Calgary. Maybe find a hot yoga class and fire up a Jennifer Aniston bod speedy-quick. But then I went to sleep that night and when I woke up the next day I realized what a silly dream my yoga fantasy had been. Overnight, my over-limbered-up lower back had stiffened into a knot of tight and sore muscles. I could no longer bend forward and hobbled around like a wounded warrior.

Back in Calgary my physiotherapist diagnosed the problem. “That can happen with Cobra. You probably inflamed that area by being too keen with the pose.” Proving you really can’t win with yoga. I love the irony in my therapist’s remedy, however: “Do Child’s Pose throughout the day for a gentle stretch.”

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