This week I was doing cat-cow pose in my new summer yoga class and feeling annoyed as the teacher’s voice faded at the end of each sentence.
“Breathe in and do … “ She’s dropped her voice to a whisper, and I think she said “cow pose,” because everyone is doing it, but I can barely hear her.
“Breathe out and arch your …” She whispers “back” and then the rest—presumably she’s saying “into cat pose”—fades into silence.
It wasn’t until I was telling my coworker about it and she said, “Oh that sounds so relaxing,” that I suddenly realized, “Oh my god! I’m the Jerry Seinfeld of yoga!”
I had just seen the episode where Jerry breaks up with a woman because she eats her peas one at a time. And here I was a day later, crabby because the teacher was being relaxing at a yoga class. Or, was she being a fade-talker?
In my defense, I am a perfectly nice yoga student from September to June because I have a great yoga set up—a good Iyengar teacher who is irreverent and challenges me and a weekly class close to my house at a time that fits my schedule. She takes summers off to recharge, and I commend her for listening to what she needs. However, this seems to turn me into Jerry Seinfeld. As I scour the web for Boston yoga classes, things get dicey. You might be thinking, are you nuts? There are hundreds, perhaps 1000s of yoga classes in the Boston area alone. Yes, this is true, and it is also true that there are 1000s of women to date in New York City. Like Jerry, I have a long list of requirements that need to be met before I can even consider a date/class.
- I prefer Iyengar style yoga, and there is precious little of it in Boston. Go ahead and do a search. There is hot yoga, flow yoga, and lots of yoga that’s a blend of hot, hatha and flow. I don’t like sweating and slipping around on my mat, and flow makes me anxious. If I wanted to move around quickly, I would go jogging. I’m trying to slow down my body and quiet my mind, which I can’t do when I’m frantically going from down dog, to plank, to up dog, always a half beat behind all the other people who know the routine much better that I do.
- I have about 5 time slots available to do yoga. Some of the reasons for my restricted availability are real, such as I prefer to go when my son is with his dad on certain evenings and on the weekend. Some of the reasons are really just me being a princess, such as I’m not getting up at 9 am on a Saturday to do yoga. I love yoga; Saturday at 9 is not gonna happen.
- If the day/ time is right, then location becomes the next hurdle. A 5:30 class on a week night I can go is great, until I realize it will take me 40 minutes on the T to get there from work.
What happens when I find these select few classes? Apparently I turn into Jerry Seinfeld. For your consideration, I present this evidence:
Jerry broke up with a woman for having “man hands.” All my early yoga teachers were women, so I didn’t take a class with a man teacher until one of these fateful summers. I didn’t really think about it at the time. All teachers tend to gravitate toward the poses they like best, and at some point I know my favorite poses will intersect with theirs. Until I took the class with a man teacher. I was panting about 20 minutes in. Why? He was doing all upper body strength poses, because guys are great at those. It felt like an Olympic gymnastics practice. When I’m being kind, I tell myself that my upper body is an opportunity to practice increasing my strength. When I’m being myself, I curse out my arms while I struggle to open up a jar of pickles. Flexibility poses, my personal strength, were nowhere in sight. I hear you yelling, “Not all male teachers do that!” At the time I agreed, so I took a class with a different man. Yeah, same thing. Two strong apples can spoil the whole bunch. Jerry wouldn’t put up with “man yoga hands,” and neither will I.
Jerry broke up with a woman for not giving him a massage. I stopped going to a yoga class because there was massage involved. I was already on the verge of breaking up with the teacher for reading really bad New Age poetry while we held poses for a number of minutes. Believe me, it’s hard enough to hold a pose without your brain screaming out, “That’s cliché!” “Wrong use of that adjective!” “The horror, the rhyming horror!” Call it an occupational hazard of being a writer, but it was brutal. She only did that once a month, so I learned to skip those classes. But then she had a substitute.
I assumed the substitute would be a yoga teacher—how very silly of me. As I was getting settled on my mat, the substitute announced she was not a yoga teacher. If I were really like Jerry, I would have left right then and I would have been right. But I am basically an optimistic person (or delusional as the occasion warrants) and thought, “Well maybe she will just call out a list of poses for us to do.” Yeah, and Jerry Seinfeld will choose a woman over a funny voice. Then she brought out the tennis balls. Now I was concerned. I couldn’t think of one yoga pose that could involve tennis balls, even as a prop. “Let me show you what to do,” she said, as she proceeded to sit on all of her tennis balls, roll around on them, and say how good it felt. I have a fair amount of butt real estate, and I am OK with sticking it up in the air for down dog or for a forward bend. But that’s because everyone else is doing the same thing, so no one is actually looking at my butt. But I was not about to stick balls under my butt and roll around, letting them disappear under my ampleness, nor look at others doing the same. I truthfully claimed I had an upset stomach and left that class and continued my hunt. At least classes that didn’t have bad poetry or tennis balls now had a fighting chance to get on my list.
Jerry broke up with a woman for being too much like him. One summer, I found a class near my house, on the right day and at the right time. It wasn’t an Iyengar class, but it also wasn’t hot or flow, so it was worth checking out. The space was nice and the teacher chatted a bit before class. When we were all settled in, she put on music. Then she unfolded a piece of paper. With the sequence of poses on it. I never had a teacher do that before, and my very first teacher was still in training. I was part of her first guinea pig practice class, so she actually could have had a cheat sheet. So what’s wrong with it? It’s what I would have to do because I can’t keep much in my head these days, never mind a sequence of 20 or more poses over the course of an hour and half. When she had to pause in the middle of the class to consult it, I realized I wasn’t coming back. I go to yoga to confront the part of myself I’m OK with confronting—my can’t-open-a-pickle-jar- arms, my core that could use more “practice” to increase its strength, and getting my brain to stop spinning. Seeing a reminder that I can’t remember diddly squat? Not so much.
And there you have it, my dirty little secret. I’m the Jerry Seinfeld of yoga. Only about five more weeks to go until my teacher gets back, and I can say in a silly voice, “Hellooo, La La Laaa.”
Photo credit: Thanks to the the Date Report for the photo and listing of 23 of the reasons Jerry broke up with his girlfriends. Check them out!
Sandy, you should check out some of the classes at Down Under Yoga in Brookline. Lots of good teachers, including some Iyengar folks:
Thanks! Yes, they are on my list–I love the studio’s intention! It’s a location vs class time thing, so I’ll get there at some point!
Consider doing a home practice since Iyengar classes are sparse in your area. Thanks for promoting this style as it is a hard sell for the vinyasa crazed who outnumber us.
I agree, I do need to practice more at home. Gotta work on that intention! I love, love, love Iyengar. For me, it really embodies the mental and physician stillness I need. Glad to know a fellow Iyengar yogi!
Just checked out your blog, by the way–liked it a lot!
Hey – that’s me right? The teacher-in-training? Also, this article is hilarious and it sums up all the reason why I pretty much will not go to a yoga class unless I know certain teacher is teaching. Even after all these years of practice, a terrible poem or terrible music will pretty much ruin it for me. Don’t even get me started! xoxoxo
Yes! You were the teacher-in-training! It took a long time for me to realize how lucky I was to start yoga with you! You were the perfect teacher for me. So we could say you ruined me for bad yoga, ha ha! Patricia Walden and Barbara Benagh, my current teacher and you! Thats the short list 😉 Glad you liked the post!