Saturday, April 24, 2010

Welcome to the City


I rested my yoga mat to tie my shoe laces on the street after a yoga class. When I was done, I picked my drink with my left hand and a notebook to the address of my next appointment in another and immediately briskly walked to the subway. And then suddenly, I remembered the mat! I literally ran to the corner where I tied my shoes. Five minutes after I left it, the yoga mat was gone!


Let it go. Let it go.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Yoga for Whom?


I went to a reasonably-priced yoga place. It's website says that it was established as an alternative to to the expensive and snooty yoga culture of New York. At least, that's their press release. The yoga is by donation. But I have a system for receiving no less than $10 per class. The rates become even less if one takes the bulk classes of a month to a year.

When I got there, the hot yoga advertised was actually Bikram, a system of yoga that is the current rage where one does a series of asanas in a room heated to about two degrees hotter than the normal body temperature. I didn't bring my trunks and towel, only the mat lent by my sister Dawn. The girl at the counter, who it would turn out was also going to handle the class, was helpful enough. She lent me the trunks, gave me a towel. And the manager promptly rang me $12, including the class ($10+$2towel=$12). Seeing my small bottle of water, he suggested I get a bigger bottle for an extra $2. I declined because my yoga teacher at home reminded us to drink water hours before the class--not during class. The manager insisted I pay up front and not after class (as would have been more convenient because by then I had all my stuff, including my wallter, in the locker). And more pressing, the class was about to begin. That's New York for you. Something I want to imbibe, in a way is how their attitude towards business, always looking out for the bottom dollar sign. The facilities in this center are much better. There is no smelly socks, sweaty feet smell like that place on 8th Avenue. And the heaters can really get hot. There were plenty of NYU student types both men and women and the hall was nearly full. I noticed that in the two yoga classes I went to here, the teacher will not correct postures as much as they would at home. They don't call attention to bad posture. I don't think they even remember the names of the students. I think it's too much of an expectation with the constant change of students. I really don't mind that since in effect, it encourages a more personal focus for the practitioner. One becomes more focused on one's body. The awareness to improve on the pose is more personal, instead of showing off to a teacher to get the encouragement.

But what I did mind was that the rest of the class seem to lack discipline. A lot of the people fidgeted in between the poses. The black guy at my side kept drinking water. The girl to my front kept doing extraneous movements-- brushing sweat out of her eyes, moving her legs in places that required stillness. One can respond with the distraction with an extra dose of concentration. Nonetheless, I felt that the teacher should have brought the matter to the attention of the class. No moving between poses.

Before the class, my surrounding classmates sensed that it was my first time to join them. I smiled at the black guy beside me but he simply ignored me. The others around were busy arranging their mats.

When we reached the balancing series (one leg up, the other straight like a resting heron), the black guy was huffing. He couldn't stay in the arrow pose. By the time we got to triangle, 1/4 of the class--including the black guy was puffing. By triangle pose, the dividing line had been drawn. A few of the class lay down (not sit, but lay down on the floor. How odd!) The black guy stopped, braced himself against the wall and began gulping water. Me? I was gloriously in triangle pose with three inhales to spare. And I credit that for staying still, breathing and not drinking water in class. And I'm merely saying that to affirm the good practice habits I learned at home.

The class ended I passed through the counter for the exit. N, the fat manager who probably never did a breathing exercise in his life was counting the daily take. He was happy. He was so happy, in fact, that he told me to get any drink from the ref "on the house". And he was tireless at telling people who came by the counter that they were offering discounts to their monthly unlimited classes in a friendly but definitely business-like kind of way. Meanwhile, the pile of NYU types was thickening at the entrance as the next class was about to begin. All seemed eager to experience stretching inside a heated room no matter the quality of their poses and the ability of the guru to lead.