Yoga for Clumsy Idiots
I'll never learn.
Recently, I posted about doing all the fun medical stuff around Korea—in it, I mentioned my hip problems. This is an essay is about how these problems began…two god damn years ago. My latest doctor insists that it is piriformis syndrome—he insists that steroid injections will fix it. He really sold it, he said, “It’s no problem for me. Very easy. Come any time. For you? Oh, very painful.” At least he’s honest. And—well, the way I see it is that a steroid shot would be taking all of the mild tension and soreness I feel most days and condensing it into a single minute of intense pain. I know that’s not how the world works—or how pain works, but it is how my mind works. So, really—I’ll technically be experiencing the same pain but just watered down over years by not getting the shot…right? Also, I’m pretty sure this 57th new stretch I’ve found on youtube is the one that’s really going to help this time.
Once I met a woman at a club in Thailand. We danced. We talked. We laughed. We kissed. She asked me back to her hotel. I followed. She led me outside, up the street, then down an alley where a man leaped out and tried to stab me.
That is how my life has worked. I find something I like, think it’s great, and then follow it down a dark alley. This has happened with alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and Amazon Prime Day.
For some reason, I thought yoga would be different.
I started because of my Uncle Bob.
Uncle Bob likes to get drunk and make bets with people on whether he can lift his big toe to his ear. He does this a lot.
Whenever he finishes his toe-to-ear trick, he laughs and cheers, “Yoga, baby!”
There is a simple reason why people take his bet. When people think “Yoga,” they think: hunky vegan; not: drunk lawyer.
This time, he’d done it to my brother’s friend.
He’d gotten his foot halfway there. My cousin, who’d seen this trick dozens of times, came through the crowd asking people what their spirit animal was. It was my turn. “Elephant,” I told her.
It was a lie. My spirit animal is a weighted blanket. When people ask me, I tell them something cool like leopard, giraffe, or elephant, but I think: weighted blanket.*
My cousin moved on to my brother, who said “Gordon Ramsay.” Then to his girlfriend, who said “Owl,” and on around the circle until my uncle had reached his full toe-to-ear pose and cried, “Yoga, baby!”
As soon as he had both feet on the ground, my cousin ran up and tugged at his shirt. He looked down at her. “What, baby? What’s up?”
“What’s your spirit animal?”
He thought for a moment and then said, “Cocaine!”
That was when I knew I should try yoga. I’d avoided it for years for one petty reason: I can’t stand yoga people. They are like religious fanatics but better looking. But if my wild uncle could do it, hell, giving it a shot can’t hurt.
My friend told me she’d learned Yoga online through Yoga with Adriene. “You’ll love her,” she said. “She’s not a yoga person,” she clarified.
I bookmarked Adriene’s channel and wrote myself a post-It note: “Start 30 Days of Yoga Tomorrow!” Then, I bought a yoga mat. (I already had yoga pants — they made me feel sexy. But I mostly used them to eat popcorn.)
It was another three months before I stood on the mat and hit play.
Day 1: By the end of the first video, my confidence was up. It wasn’t so hard. After, I went to my mirror and tried to lift my toe to my ear. I made it to my waist. My whole body shook, and I nearly fell over. I held onto the counter and wrenched my foot up another half-inch.
Day 2: I unfurled my yoga mat, and my confidence shot up even higher. Adriene was great. Just when I’d find myself shaking, she’d say, “It’s okay to shake. That’s your body waking up!” and I’d think, “Yeah! My body is waking up!”
Day 7: We worked on our balance. She said, “Don’t be afraid to hold onto something!” just as I was about to fall over. “Thank you!” I told the video.
Day 10: I felt like a pro. My breathing was steadier, and my back didn’t hurt as much. I was taking stairs two at a time. Each day, after yoga, I went to the mirror and tried to touch my toe to my ear. I was getting closer. From my waist, I’d gotten to my belly button.
Day 15: I barged into my friend’s office. “Look!” I grabbed my ankle and lifted my leg up to nearly my nipples. He glanced up from his computer and said, “What? New shoes?”
I completed Adriene’s 30-Day Challenge and wanted more. I began targeting different parts of my body — like my back, which twanged from working on a computer all day.
Then my shoulders, which were tired of carrying my backpack. Soft abs? Yoga for abs. Stress? Yoga for stress. Trouble sleeping? Yoga for sleep. Trouble waking up? Morning energizing yoga. Neck, anxiety, sleepiness, hunger, addiction, love, despair — each time, it was “Yoga, baby!”
It’s no wonder that after two months of my Yoga journey when I developed a pain in my hip, I looked up “Yoga with Adriene Hips.”
I did my Energizing Morning Yoga every morning, followed by the six-minute hip video. I got a standing desk at work and listened to a lot of Shakira.
In conversations, I’d bend over, lift one leg, and frog-crouch. When people asked what I was doing, I’d say, “My hips hurt, so I’m doing yoga for it.” Then, catching the look on their face, I’d follow it with, “But I am NOT a yoga person!”
The hip pain persisted. I realized I had to see my doctor, a woman named Doctor Lee. I explained to her how I’d been taking such good care of my body with yoga. She poked my hip, I cringed, and she told me I’d likely developed tendonitis.
“You said you’re doing yoga?” she asked, writing out a prescription.
“It shouldn’t have caused this, but it will make it worse, so you’ll have to take a break from it for a while.”
I was horrified. “But I’ve been doing so well!” I protested. I wanted to explain that I suffer from a rare condition of having an addictive personality but no willpower, which means I can only stick to things by making myself addicted to them. But she knew this already.
“Can I just do a little yoga?” I tried.
She frowned. “No — there is no telling what makes it worse since I don’t know the routines you’re using. But either way, it’s best to just take a little break. You can try to go back to it in a couple of weeks.”
In a desperate attempt at one last argument, I said, “But look, I can almost touch my toe to my ear!” I lifted my foot and nearly fell over but caught myself. My toe was clearly on its way to my ear. I’d make it soon. I was sure of it. When I fully regained my balance, a look settled over her face that I couldn’t read right away.
“How often do you do that?” she asked.
“Lift your leg like that?”
Her look hadn’t changed. I felt cornered by her eyes.
“I — ” and then I realized what her look was saying.
Doctor Lee sighed.
I said, “Oh.”
And she said, “Yeah.”
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