On being restored

I went to a yoga class with a friend last week. Wednesday night. 7:30pm. It had probably been a year since I’d been to this class with this instructor. ‘It’s great,’ I promised my friend. Because I had memories of sun salutations in a dimly lit class, culminating in shavasanas on bolsters with blankets that had me nearly snoring on the plywood floor.

On the way to class we walked past Forage Foods where I stopped to chat with the manager about the cake of the day. ‘Carrot cake with cream cheese icing,’ she told me and I thought about moist fruity cake with thick buttery cream cheese icing. ‘It would probably look kind of weird if I show up at yoga with a big piece of carrot cake,’ I talked myself out of buying a slice. And we continued walking to the studio where we signed in and sat down on a bench while waiting for the other class to finish.

Our petite instructor with the peculiar way of speaking, the one I remembered from the year before, sat on my right while another of her ‘regulars’ sat on my left. ‘My parents are coming into town next week,’ the regular told the teacher, ‘they’re 82 and 86. I told them they should come and do your class.’

I thought about the class I remembered. While not exactly strenuous, I couldn’t imagine it was within the reach of most octogenarians. ‘Yeah, you should bring them,’ the instructor agreed. And I figured she was just being polite. Canadian-nice and all of that.

Eventually the 6pm class ended and, because there were a lot of people signed up for our class, my friend and I bolted for the room so we could get the good spots: not the ones in the back or the ones two inches away from the teacher. I couldn’t help but think my impolite-bordering-on-aggressive approach was not particularly zen…namaste….whatever.

We set up our mats triumphantly and began the process of gathering props. ‘I do believe we’ll have our mats against the wall tonight,’ the instructor mused in her strange manner. Apparently we’d labored in vain, so we scrambled….again…to find spots against the wall.

The woman beside me lay on her back with eyes closed; her legs propped against the wall in preparation for class. I followed suit, trying to look equally serious. Had there been a conversation bubble above my head I am certain it would have looked completely different from the one above her head.

Other woman’s bubble: [Silent…breathing….preparing]

My bubble: [‘Do I look serious enough? Must close eyes. How much longer do I have to lie here? Hope class starts soon….’]

I lay there so focused on trying to look serious that I failed to notice everyone else – including the instructor – was waiting for us to get our feet off the wall so class could start.

Whoops.

‘Who hasn’t done a restorative yoga class before,’ the instructor surveyed her larger-than-normal group. A few people – including my friend – raised their hands. Since I’d done the Wednesday night class a handful of times, I didn’t bother raising my hand. I was an alum, after all.

Or so I thought.

She instructed us to lie on our mats with our butts touching the wall and our legs extended along the length of said wall. Pretty much exactly what I’d been doing when they were all sitting around waiting for me to drop my legs and swivel around already.

With my legs in the air (again) and my butt against the wall (again) I awaited instruction.

There was none.

Seconds turned into minutes and my feet grew numb.

‘Five more breaths,’ she finally offered a hint of reprieve. After what must have been ten minutes. At least.

Which is exactly how long it took me to figure out: same night, same time, same instructor……different class.

Next, we lay on our right side…..for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes. Then the left. Then we were on our backs, propped up on some bolster-block combination trying to compel our bent-like-frog-legs towards the floor. Try as I might, I just couldn’t get into it. ‘It’ being lying around with nothing to do. 

Obviously that is the point of the restorative yoga class: being restored. Not trying to figure out how much longer you will have to lie there, or when the class will finally get interesting, or thinking about how your feet are numb or your legs itchy or how you could have totally brought that piece of cake to class and eaten it!

By the time we got to shavasana, I was bored. It didn’t matter that the room was dark, or that I had a yoga blanket or a bolster. No prop or candle could usher me into a sleep-like state at that point – I just wanted to get out of there.

Shortly after 9pm, the class ended and we filed out of the room back to reality. My friend and I donned our shoes and walked, quietly, back to her car. And then we burst out laughing.

‘What was that!’

‘I don’t think I burned five calories in that class.’

‘No wonder that lady wanted to bring her parents – they definitely could have done that class.’

‘I totally should have bought that piece of cake and taken it to class. It was so dark in there she wouldn’t have noticed I was eating cake.’

And, goodness knows, I certainly had the time.

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