Yoga on Speed

A friend called me yesterday, laughing about my blog. She does yoga and could relate to the inherent idiosyncrasies that come with it. However, she does yoga in “the ‘burbs,” just like I used to before moving to DC. For the sake of simplicity, I call “the ‘burbs” anywhere that isn’t downtown in the underbelly of a city. All of my yoga experience since beginning to practice has been in the ‘burbs.

My very first experience with “Corporate Yoga” was right before I moved to DC, when I visited my sister who lives in downtown Houston. I picked a studio that was close, and had a class time that worked for my schedule (which was early enough to finish before my sister needed her car to take my niece to school).

My sister explained the studio was very popular and always packed, but it wasn’t really yoga. It was going to be a fast, hybrid yoga-workout with lights, music, and a lot of heat. She wasn’t wrong about any of it. The class was packed, the music was incredibly loud, and I was already completely dehydrated before I lifted one leg from the pumped-in heat and humidity incessantly blowing across the room. Even then, I noticed everyone in the room was

very young…

and extremely sweaty…

It’a a little weird to suddenly find yourself significantly closer towards the other end of the spectrum. Now, when I watch the news, most of the newscasters are younger than me. I always considered them older,  mature and wise, as they dispensed the day’s events. Worse, this phenomenon occurs way after all of the new, emerging actors and actresses have long established their budding careers and the pipeline fills again with more kids who look even younger than the last ones. I don’t know why middle-age has been such a blur for me, but admittedly, it has…I am reminded of the quote by Hunter S. Thompson:

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “Wow! What a ride!”

On that note, I’ve done a pretty good job. I’m chalking my surprise at my current state of things to finally picking my head up and looking around after being in the barn for so long. This is no joke and every horse person will understand how myopic horses can make you while you have them.

The young thing seems endemic to the city. I’ve practiced ‘burbs yoga a few places in northern VA; a couple places in eastern PA.; El Paso; a couple of suburbs outside of Houston; and a couple of suburbs in South Carolina. In short, at probably eight or nine different studios. I pretty much had the same experience at each place. The demographic and age-range was spread out, and while each teacher had their own style or focus, every class felt a little more impromptu and a lot less choreographed.

Practicing in the city has almost been an assault on my sensibilities.

This is the big, defining difference between city yoga and ‘burb yoga:

A yoga class in the ‘burbs is an extension of the teacher. In the city, the instructor becomes the extension of a very prescribed class.

In other words, when practicing in the ‘burbs, the class is developed by the teacher and they sort of “stamp” it with their own style. It feels like an offering, a gift, when you step through the door. Some teachers like to work on hips. Another might like to do a lot of backbends. And they are always changing it up. They become inspired themselves, from a workshop or retreat, and they bring something new into the studio.

Conversely, at Corporate Yoga, it doesn’t really matter who is teaching. Every class is the same. The teacher becomes indistinguishable from the class they are leading. You could stand anyone up there and you’re going to have the same experience.

And you know what?

I’m getting used to it.

Is this acceptance? Concession? Tolerance? Apathy?

Or just the way it is?

I’ve mourned the loss of my classical yoga studios and embraced what is offered here.

Obsolescence: The process of becoming no longer useful or needed.

Embracing my newfound environment, I marched to “Sculpt” class this morning. It starts at 6 a.m. and I noticed there were a lot less people in class, and there were no stragglers. Sculpt class is a beast and treats you like the village whipping post. It is comprised of four things: weights and push-ups for upper body strength; squats and lunges for lower body strength; crunches and every version of planking for core; and HIIT.

I stayed with it for 45-minutes, but spent the last 15 bent over with my hands on my knees trying not to hurl. They warn you to keep your head above your heart when this happens so you don’t pass out, and I understand how easily that could happen.

What is it about that sharp, excruciating wall of pain that is so utterly intoxicating, we can’t wait to hit it, even though it’s a cruel bastard when we do?

Speed rounds are what’s fashionable these days and I’m right there doing it with everyone else (or trying to, anyway). As much of as a dystopian as I can be, I still believe there is a silver lining and something to be gained from doing what makes you uncomfortable, even if you don’t know what it is exactly at the time.

And well…sometimes… hitting the wall is just. totally. worth. it.

 Speed is over time and place.

Speed is power.

Speed permits misinformation, disarious of time and place

and is a fierce and uncompromising ruler.

Our obsession with high speed leaves no time or place for return.

It is now already too late

and today is yesterday

with its memory already lost.

—excerpt from “Manifesto  12,” by Julian Rosenfeldt

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