Face down on my yoga mat is my least favorite position. Mostly because I never remember to wash the thing and it does a really good job as a “sticky mat” as evidenced by all the little flakes of my skin all over it. (Side note: If I ever go missing, use my yoga mat for DNA evidence. It’s a gold mine.) As I lay there, I felt the heaviness on my chest — and not just the weight of my body pressing down on it. Sometimes with a heart break, it feels like my heart is literally breaking. My chest was so tight I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My shoulders ached from tensing up. My stomach churned with worry. I hate feeling like that but the more I try to push it away, the heavier all those feelings get.
So I’ll admit it: I wasn’t really paying attention to my yoga teacher. I was too much in my own head. And also I was really digging the music she was playing. (She loves neo-gospel and hip hop; not your traditional namaste birds chirping but I gotta say there is something so satisfying about flowing to Bottom of the River.) Then something penetrated my mental fog. “Lift up your eyes first and then raise your arms and legs,” she was saying. Eh, I thought, I’ve done Locust Pose a hundred times. I don’t need directions. But then she added, “You have to look up to lift up.”
This picture alone is why America needs to have more subways.
Yoga is supposed to be the ultimate non-competitive exercise but if you’ve ever spent time in a “serious” yoga class (or even a not-so-serious one) you’ll discover the Pose Off. I wish I was talking about lining up all the mats like a catwalk and having each yogi do their best Tyra impression. No, I mean the inevitable comparison of who can do which advanced poses and how well. Since overt bragging doesn’t mesh well with the whole yoga vibe, you have to make your stunts look calm and serene. Oh this? I always relax in a fingertip handstand. You can’t do it? Super easy – you just have to focus on tightening your core and you’ll get it!
(Side note: I swear the answer to EVERY tricky yoga pose is always “It’s all in your core! If you just hug your ribs together you’ll pop right up like a beach umbrella, easy peasy lemon squeezie!” Also, why is there no Beach Umbrella Pose?? There should be. I don’t care if beach umbrellas didn’t exist in ancient India. Neither did Justin Beiber and yet we now have yogaBiebs poses.)
People find inspiration in the darndest places. Like these ads to inspire more women to breastfeed… by showing men doing it. Now, I’m not knocking these brave dudes but I’m just saying that as a lady with mammaries all these ads make think are “Yeah but you can’t… so why are you confusing that baby with a hairy nipple?”
We’ve all done it. Whether it’s sneaking a peek at the treadmill readout from the person next to us and upping our speed a bit to match theirs or seeing someone deadlift three times their body weight and deciding to give the DL another try or even seeing someone proudly wearing a bright, weird outfit and using that to craft our own bright, weird outfit, taking inspiration from what other people say and do is as normal as looking in the bowl after you go to the bathroom. Sometimes we don’t want to admit we do it but nevertheless we all do.
And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking inspiration from what’s around us. But the advent of social media has changed the rules a bit – upped the stakes – when it comes to talking about what inspires us. Three recent examples have really shown how publicly thanking people for being inspiring can go horribly awry.
“Think theater and go mirror-free! Participants want to be absorbed in a fun and motivating experience, not to watch their possibly out-of-shape bodies attempt to match a lithe instructor’s every shimmy and shake.” – so started a fitness newsletter about the latest workout trends that Turbo Jennie forwarded to me the other day.
I wrote her back a very intelligent response that basically consisted of LOLWUT?
No mirrors in a workout studio? That’s like a restaurant with no fake centerpiece candles or a subway with no bizarre ads or a strip club with no poles! I mean, what are you supposed to look at then?? Turbo Jennie agreed with me, answering, “Mirrors are a must. It seems like most work harder with a mirror and those that don’t stand in the back or sides!”
I figured we were all in agreement until I posted about gym mirrors on Facebook and was surprised when the vast majority of people said they prefer no mirrors. Several women even said that the no-mirrors thing was one of the reasons they switched from a traditional gym to a CrossFit box. (That and the implicit permission to wear crazy knee-high socks. Okay so they didn’t say that but I know they meant it, deep down.)
Power yoga may be my new favorite workout, if only because this happened this morning: There we were, an hour into a leg-quaking, arm-shaking class when the teacher told us to we were going to take a quick break to try something new. Having been to plenty of yoga classes in my day I immediately realized that a) unless you’re laying flat down on your mat there’s no such thing as a “break” and b) “new” always means tricky. But despite my muscles silently threatening me with total boycott if I did anything fancy, I followed her instructions to crouch down onto my heels. As soon as she told us to move both hands to one side, I knew what was coming. My old nemesis Side Crow:
This isn’t Emily but it’s basically what she looks like.
I know yoga’s all peaceful and whatever but I’m just going to say it. I hate Side Crow. I’m probably doing it wrong but I always end up with all my weight on my one supporting wrist and it just doesn’t seem right to pit gravity against the teeny tiny part of my body responsible for typing, ping pong and pageant-waving. Gravity always wins.
Yoga as a wet t-shirt contest? Fail, Planet Yoga. Plus, her Bow Pose is really not that well done. Not that I’m judging other people’s yoga practice but I figure if you’re going to be modeling yoga for Planet Yoga you should probably at least try and get your knees together? Although this was my first time ever photoshopping pasties – so, that’s fun.
There was a tempest in the proverbial chai herbal-infused detox teapot a couple of weeks ago when famed yoga guru and self-confessed perv Cameron Shayne put up a post about why it’s not only hot for yoga teachers to have sex with their students but it’s also very cool because it’s, like, relaxing and athletic and a natural bodily function and part of the whole yoga experience and a bunch of other garbage that I couldn’t read because I was too busy pearl-clutching over his atrocious grammar. (Lesson #1: Never trust a dude with two first names.) He argued that the power dynamic between teacher and student that normally makes such relationships verboten isn’t the same in yoga because… yoga.
See, these ladies love working out in footed jammies! And so can you!
“Cute pedi!,” my neighbor said.
“Thanks! Jelly Bean and I got bored the other day and we painted our nails.” (Which she immediately peeled off even though I’d just spent half an hour hunched over fingernails the size of rabbit pellets. Kids.)
“So fancy! What is that – glitter?”
I wiggled my toes happily in the grass and replied, “Yep! I painted them black and then did a top coat of ‘Jessica Rabbit’!” (It’s a chunky red glitter custom-made by my friend Krissy of Glitter Bombs Away.” Also? Krissy has THE BEST names for her polishes!)
These are Krissy’s nails. Gorg, no?? I have neither the time nor the patience to do this on myself but I admire those who can!
“You going to yoga today?”
“Huh?” It was such a non-sequitur that I was momentarily rendered speechless. While I do love yoga and have taken a few classes at my new gym, I haven’t found anything that I love and (sadly) yoga hasn’t been a very regular part of my life since moving here. Why would she think I was going to yoga?
True Story: I was once approached about doing a first-person article about the “new” “trend” of Naked Yoga. (I think this may be a right of passage for female fitness journalists?) But in all honesty I’m a prude and the only thing that sounded worse to me than doing Down Dog whilst airing out my lady bits was watching someone else do it. I’ve never typed a “no thanks!” so fast in my life. And yet I’m not necessarily opposed to naked yoga on principle, if you’re in your own home. I do think the human body in all its forms is a beautiful creation and yoga can be such a wonderful mind-body experience that I think if you feel like doing a birthday suit Bird Dog in your basement then knock yourself out.
A couple weeks ago, Jelly Bean and I got to do a little shopping and photoshoot with Athleta as part of their #ShareYourOm month! All photobombs courtesy of my cat, Luna. Seriously cats must think we are SO WEIRD.
This week is going to be AWESOME here at the GFE! I’ve got 5 amazing giveaways for you – one for each day, starting today! I’m super excited to share all this stuff with you guys! But more on that in a minute.
First, I want to wish all my American friends a wonderful Labor Day and I hope the rest of you are enjoying the sunshine today! I will be partying with my family – and by “partying” I mean walking around in a cold medicine-induced haze and trying to stay away from any grilling as I cannot be trusted with fire right now while my children run in circles and scream. I finally went to the doctor this weekend and the verdict: Double ear infection, sinus infection and bronchitis. They gave me antibiotics and Mucinex-D which I discovered has pseudoephedrine in it – which means I haven’t slept in 40 hours now! Fun!! Speed of any sort is not my friend. (This will hopefully explain the disjointed nature of this post…) ANYHOW.
All the cars parked up on snowbanks should have been my first clue that something was amiss at the gym this morning. But I was fortunate to have a parking spot open up right in front of me and so I paid no attention to the fact that my spot was the only open one in the entire, gigantic parking lot. As I raced inside with Jelly Bean tucked like a missile under one arm (as we’re basically always late she’s gotten very good at making herself aerodynamic, a skill she can thank me for later if she she ever decides to become a luge runner or human cannonball), I was irritated to discover a long line at the check-in desk. I tried not to show my irritation at the number of people stymied by a simple card swipe by smiling brightly and not thinking about my yoga class that was starting in 5 minutes – although in retrospect all the teeth I was showing probably said more “cannibal” than “calm.”