Let's Hang Out. Oops, nope. I have to go to yoga. Oh, Bikram yoga. For most of my life, I have avoided you because:
1. I don’t like to stretch.
2. I have a hard time thinking you can do anything proactive in your life while just wiggling around in place.
3. My hips don’t move. Or they move just as well as a middle schooler in gym class when you’re coerced into square-dancing and don’t want to interact with the boy you were assigned to, so you just wobble around and barely let him touch your hands during promenade. Life-long trauma. (This is why I can never be Beyoncé.)
4. If we were supposed to be upside-down doing toe-touches all the time, we would have our faces upside-down on our heads, so we could still ward off predators.
5. Yoga reminds me of fermented bacteria. Probably because it sounds like yogurt. Ohhhh. Okay. I just figured that out. Oh, my gosh. Breakthrough.
But everybody keeps talking about it. Yoga-doers (yogis? yogurts?) are evangelists for their sport. I mean it. They just talk about its virtues all the time until you believe them. And then you are struck with such profound cognitive dissonance because you believe yoga is the best thing in the whole world and yet have never actually done it. So you start doing yoga in your room using the online yoga channel. But the online yogi definitely enjoys listening to his own voice and keeps talking and talking so that it becomes obvious why it’s free, and then you catch yourself checking your email during the dead body pose. It’s all over then because you’re supposed to NEVER check your email during yoga. Rule number one, they say: Never check your email. Rule two: No snot rockets.
You're welcome, trail runners. (My mom hates when I write the words “snot rockets,” so I try to include that in every entry. Teenage rebellion, I guess, except I never rebelled in my teens. Wayyyy too busy doing homework.)
Then, one day, a Groupon arrives in your inbox saying you can do Bikram yoga for a whole month for $30. (This is unreal.) So you do it.
At my first class, I sat right next to the heater because somebody had to sit there. I’d rather I be the one having the biggest suffer fest to maximize edification. Plus, I wish all of life were held in a sauna.
Then the yoga instructor got us into this pose-thing [a technical term] and said, “This is bringing rapid oxidation to your brain. It’s going to make you smarter.” And well, I’m already smart enough to know that her statement was false because it was during a slow twitch posture—lots of mitochondria and myoglobin, therefore slow oxidation—but still, that’s the most seductive thing she could have said about Bikram, and maybe I’ll stay for life. Seductive. This is the first and the last time I will ever use that word in my blog. Why? It's rarely applicable.
So anyway, the room was full of Yalies who perked up just then, drooling about increasing their brain efficiency. The yoga instructor definitely knew her audience. And I held that pose for an extra couple seconds because I am competitive and wanted the biggest brain. The girl to my left did the same thing; I watched her. And she watched me. Brain envy. This is real.
Thinking about your own brain is a little nuts. Once you start analyzing its processes, you stop thinking and start thinking about thinking (meta-cognition), like Hegel—when you turn your lens in on itself. It’s like when you tell yourself not to look at your nose, and then all you can see is your nose, everywhere you look. And now I’m looking at my nose. Awesome. And now I’m thinking about my brain. Terrific.
I had several other reservations about yoga. It is only held at awkward times in the day, and it requires so much stuff! You have to get a mat, bring two towels, a water bottle, and clothes for after. And you do Bikram in short-shorts and a sports bra! So I was like, "Heck no am I going to wear that to yoga. It's so revealing. I will save those clothes for the privacy of my own..............long runs in the forest and sprinting through traffic, while dodging pedestrians." You have to draw the line somewhere.
In conclusion, I think we all learned something here today. Yoga is related to yogurt not at all, or at least only to the extent that pilates pertains to pirates.
But this is a new journey that I’m on. I think yoga will make me stronger and less likely to get injured as I add training volume. I would love to hear your opinions on this. Is yoga actually good for running, or is it all in everybody’s heads? In reality, I find that the thing that most improves my running is...wait for it...wait for it...RUNNING. I will keep you updated. I will be a yoga spy runner.