Monday, November 1, 2010

(Yoga) ^2

Check Spelling I've never been one to join a gym or take a spinning class, aerobics or any other public forum of embarrassing myself, I mean working out. This has all changed in Morocco where I take pilates, belly dance, a strength class and yoga and I find (much to my surprise) that I'm absolutely loving all of them. Who knew that working out with other people could actually be fun and of course way more challenging than working out on your own? It only took me 40 years to figure this out. Hey, I'm a slow learner ok? The most fascinating contradiction is in the two yoga classes I take a week. You see, one is with an American yoga instructor, Chris and the other with a Moroccan instructor, Abdelkrim .

Monday nights are Chris' class in my kids school gym. He's got the soothing new age music playing at just the right volume so it isn't distracting or overwhelming when you enter. The lights are dimmed. He greets you calmly and knowingly. So have I just walked into the lair of The Ladies Man or the most tranquil day spa ever? No Courvoisier or stone massage. Must be yoga. Some small talk, a calm moment of silent meditation and I go to my happy, calm place and ready my body for a graceful, tranquil yet challenging workout. Prior to this I was unaware that I had a happy, calm place or that I possessed any grace or tranquility. To be honest I'm still not sure that I haven't merely created a total different dimension in my head where the thoughts of these things roam around freely without some of those special incense fumes.

Thursday afternoons I have Abdel who comes to a friends house. I'm chronically early to everything. So again I'm early and my friend and I chit chat until Abdel arrives exactly on time. Then we decide where we are going to yoga. Outside if it's beautiful weather, inside if it's not. It's like some weird yoga democracy and we're all so laid back this might take a few minutes to decide before we get our yoga on. There is no new age music, I might be standing in a divot in the backyard trying to balance, we might need some chairs or other props to do some of the poses, but who cares? It's all good. No worries this is my allayed Abdel type B slacker yoga.

Mondays with Chris are Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga. We have a whole routine of poses that flow one into the next that he builds on every week. He explains every movement and why we do the things that we do. Not in an annoying know it all kind of way, but in a informative spiritually enlightened kind of way. He doesn't talk too much, or too little. He guides us through a cascade of poses that just seems very natural and flowing just the way it does when you're you've got your head hanging like a pendulum in down dog. He knows exactly when to talk and exactly when not to, he knows exactly when to challenge you and when not to. It's like he's an omnipotent yoga god. The perfection of it is just so.... so.......American!

I have no earthly idea what kind of yoga Abdel teaches us. I'm not saying that in a condescending way, it's just that....well it's type B class. He hasn't offered it up and I'm too much of a comfortable slacker in that class to ask. Which is weird because I'm a total American perfectionist at the other class! It isn't vinyasa yoga where the poses bleed into the next. We do one pose, stop then another and there is no new age music so it's the perfect set up for me to interject my snarky comments, sarcastic wit and goofy cackle into the silence. Abdel has a heavy Moroccan accent, so I think I get a little extra workout trying to crane my neck around in whatever position that we're in to try to see what he's trying to explain. The first time I took his class I didn't realize that "Rise your botox" actually translated into "Lift your buttocks". He's got other cute little sayings that make me giggle like "Breathe well" which he doesn't say as much as bellow it like it's a command. I'm sure the giggling adds to the challenge of holding whatever yoga pose I'm in. And what's more healthy than laughing?

Americans are extremely safety conscious. Our culture is ingrained in it. Bike helmets, car seats, flame retardant sleepwear, hygienic plastic panty liners in the crotch of our swimsuits. If you're American you may not even notice it. Chris is no exception, not only does he check for proper form, but he will tell us how we're stabilized to prevent injury. I'm sure he is has 5 stars and a certificate on the walls of OSHA somewhere. I'm also pretty sure I can come out of his class with a great workout AND a law degree in a couple years time. Now that is American multi-tasking!

I'm guessing that there is no Moroccan equivalent of OSHA. Phewww....that means we aren't bound by any safety concerns which allows us to be more risky and sometimes even risque in Abdel's class. Tandem yoga stretching your partner's inner thighs up against a wall? Sure! Hey let's do this pose with a chair. Ok. Wanna try this one on my moped? No helmet required! Well okay maybe not the moped (yet). His class is more adventurous and less serious and I'm pretty sure that in addition to a great workout, I could very well come out of that class with a great stand up comedy routine either that or a circus routine. You can take the American out of the yoga, but you can not take the multi-tasker out of the American!

I don't apologize for having two yogis in my life. I don't like one class over the other. One is yin and one is yang. At yang yoga I'm a serious, grounded American perfectionist who must achieve the highest level of yoga transcendence possible. At yin yoga I'm a slacker who remembers to laugh at herself, embrace the adventure, take risks and just be in the moment. Both sides are me and both are absolutely perfectly imperfect. Yoga you complete me.

Namaste. The energy in me honors the energy in you. Breathe well my friend.

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