Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Newbie Yoga: A Sardonic Meditation Workshop Story

It's okay if you fart in yoga - your body wants you to.Shortly after signing up for my first ever Yoga class, I was invited to attend a meditation workshop one Sunday in May.

I wasn't sure I wanted to sit around and meditate for an hour and a half because every previous attempt I'd made at meditation felt sort of pointless and aggravating. I know not every mind works quite like the mad scientist nature of a creative, but have you ever tried to tell your brain to be quiet when you've got 30 different projects and plans running through it? 

The workshop was being lead by my soon-to-be yoga instructor, though, so I seized the opportunity to get a little more comfortable going into the uncharted territory of an organized class.

I had no idea what to expect. Chanting? Incense? Hand holding? No clue.

It's okay if you fart in yoga - your body wants you to.

I desperately didn't want to go when I woke up that Sunday morning. It was unseasonably cold, and even snowing. In May. I outfitted myself in my coziest off-the-shoulder sweater and leggings, and forced my cold heart to go. Grumbling all the way.

The room was quiet and peaceful when we arrived (I was attending with my Mom), and after collecting a yoga mat, brick, bolster and blanket, we lied face down with our foreheads on the floor. I remember struggling to get comfortable - with either my arm bones or the pattern of the mat digging into my head...wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into.

We moved onto yogic breathing (who knew breathing was so complicated), and a few stretches and movements to relax our bodies. At some point, all of that deep breathing started to make me shaky and lightheaded, and I was SO ready to be done. The crazy part is - these were only the steps to prepare for meditation, and I swear it had been hours. I truly lost all sense of time as I figured I'd be in this room, breathing through my butt for the rest of my life.

As we worked through some poses and breathing practices, there was a lot of talk about chakras. I'd only really heard about them through psychics before, and didn't know enough about them to make any real use of them.

For starters, because I'm a linguistics and syntax nut, I immediately noticed the instructor's pronunciation of the word chakra. I'd usually heard it with a shhh sound, as in shhhackra, but she was using a hard ch like in cheese. At first I was all hung up on this (who knows...my brain, guys) and then I was sort of wooed by it. Why was it so pleasing to hear it said that way? CHakra. I didn't even know what the heck she was talking about!

Then came the part where we were supposed to "breathe into" each chakra. Come again? How do you breathe into an imaginary thing? Or, ya know, anything other than your lungs? So there I was, all hung up again.

And it was especially awesome to focus on my "pleasure chakra" while lying spread eagle next to MY MOM. Super not weird at all.

The hilarious thoughts that fly through a skeptic's mind during meditation
The hilarious thoughts that fly through a skeptic's mind during meditation

Somewhere around this point the instructor told us about the power of yoga energy, and that if we focus on a point of discomfort and sort of say "I acknowledge you" then yogic energy will move to that spot and fix it. I thought this sounded like crazy town, and pictured myself using this theory in horridly painful scenarios when one such uncomfortable spot on my back made itself known. I thought, "okay, Yoga, let's play," and I focused all of my energy on that spot and said, "I feel you, back. You're being a jerk, and I acknowledge it."

We moved on through some other chakra breathing (or at least we were supposed to as I stared at the ceiling trying to picture whatever the heck a chakra looked like), and just as we were getting ready to change positions I realized that my jerk back not only felt better, but like.....amazing. It was all warm and tingly and happy. And what the heck? Yoga listened to me? Skeptical, questioning, confused me?

I almost laughed out loud. Like this weird, amazed thrill tore through me, and I almost giggled like an idiot in the middle of a silent, tranquil room. GET IT TOGETHER, ME.

We then moved into Corpse Pose (I love corpse pose, I'm going to make such a good corpse one day. I can't believe I just said that, hahaha.) I have so, so much to say about Corpse Pose that it'll fill its own post, so for now I'll just say YAAAS Corpse Pose (praise hands emoji here.)

And I will also say that as we laid there relaxing every microcell of our bodies, our instructor told us to not be afraid of the silent room and let out any coughs or sneezes we needed to because the body knows when it needs to let something out, and it's common for it to do so during meditation. So then it took everything in me to not laugh as I pictured everyone in the room taking their turns farting. We're breathing through our butts, guys (or, okay, our "roots"...whatever.) Tell me your mind isn't going to go there.
Yoga: Breathing through your butt and other fun stuff
Yoga: Breathing through your butt and other fun stuff

Finally, finally, we rested our bums on some bolsters, crossed our legs (the fart threat decreased), and made the typical meditation hand shape by putting our thumbs and pointer fingers together. She told us to rest our hands on our knees, downward if we needed some grounding in our lives, or upward if we needed something to come into our lives. I thought, "hell yeah I could use some cash," so I kept my hands up and waited for it to rain.

The weirdest thing I remember about this was making a rock and roll fist with our thumbs and pinkies sticking out, and using them to take turns holding a nostril closed while we breathed out of the other. So, so weird, guys. We also had to start on the left side because it was before 3pm or something totally bizarre like that.

This phase of things was surprisingly quick. The posture we were in was what I knew mediation to be, so I figured that this would be the meat and potatoes of why we were there. It lasted maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and when we started saying our Namastes I thought, wait, what? We just spent an hour and a half preparing to sit like buddahs for only ten minutes? I felt like I barely had time to understand the experience, let alone get anything out of it. And where was my cash?

Nevertheless, we packed up to leave and stepped out into the jarring cold. I was sort of starving, extremely confused, but a little more calm overall. I made a mental note to do some research on CHakras so I could breathe into them more accurately (I still don't get it), but I was generally glad that I went. I really liked the studio and the instructor, and I was glad that it would all feel less foreign to me as I stepped into my first class in a couple weeks.

And thankfully, I didn't fart. 

yoga bend fart

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