The Yoga Diaries

By Mary Ann Crimi

The Yoga Diaries

Day One

Once upon a time, I had a job that required decision making and multitasking on a scale that prevented sleep. I thought a bit of mind control such as meditation might eliminate the mental treadmill of “shoulda/coulda.” One day, I ventured into the yoga class offered by my exercise club. You know, the fitness center that charges $75 a month and costs me $37.50 a workout.

I informed the instructor that I was new to this art form. She informed me that the class was working in partners and as there was now an uneven number (me!), I could be her partner. She welcomed me to her mat in front of the yogettes. Yes, you heard correctly – in front of everyone. Then she ordered me into the Deputy Dawg position.

I don’t know what that is, I said. She proceeded to try to fashion my un-lithe, un-skinny body into a semblance of a yoga pose. After several attempts in which my body was non-compliant, she surrendered and sent me to where I belonged and preferred – the back of the room.

Much later, lying on the mat and breathing deeply, I thought, this is pleasant. I left the class wanting to try yoga again, but not until the right time.

Day Two

Which turned out to be several decades later. A friend suggested that before trying another organized class, I could sample yoga in living room privacy on TV. I dressed appropriately, made sure my husband was golfing, and tuned in. The instructor smiled at me. I got into position, and then fell over into a heap. She was still in position. Okay, next position. I tried again. Heap number two. I discovered muscles new to my consciousness. Not good! Too advanced! Where is the yoga for the uninitiated, the old, the lame? And where is the mind-emptying meditation, which is really what I want.

Day Three

More decades pass. I retire. I sign up for yoga again. The instructor talks about a motivation for yoga – back pain. I look around; ladies with delicate wrinkles are nodding their heads. I find a back corner. The instructor leads us in exercises. A few times she says look left and point right. I get it backwards but she is gentle in redirecting me. No one else notices. She says stand on one foot to be a mountain, and as all of us fall over, she adds, “or not.” I put my money down and commit to trying again.

Day Four

Today we learn that our mat is our sacred place. And yoga is all about me.

I learn how to do the dog, correctly entitled Downward Dog. I can only do it for ten seconds. The instructor remarks that we are welcome to stand on our heads if we wish. Seriously? No one reacts. She adds, “Or not.” Time to turn off the lights and listen to the instructor’s soft voice encourage us to feel joy, to push away competing thoughts, to not make grocery lists in our mind, to not think about the fact that we have to pee or that our toes are cold. I manage to empty my multitasking mind one minute before the rolling of mats signals the end of another session of meaningfulness.

Day Five

This time I do not get my left and right confused. I do not think about peeing. Does this mean I am improving?

Day Six

We do a plank and hold. I impress myself here. Up on elbows and toes – no knees involved. Breathe out. Relax.

Forty minutes later, balanced and stretched, we lie still. The instructor asks us to find our inner being, which may be smaller than a mustard seed.

I think about “loving kindness” and resolve to treat all I meet, even those who I would classify as “jerks,” with kindness. I resolve not to be judgmental, but then I think how can I think that those who are behaving poorly are not jerks? Maybe they have reasons for being jerks although I can find no reason for causing unpleasantness to others, like those jerks that angrily blow their horns at you if you make an unpremeditated right turn….

The instructor is reading a passage that asks us to look for “Vermont,” which means “god;” in “Vermont” we can find ourselves. “Vermont” resides in goodness and “Vermont” has mustard seeds. After a while, I realize the instructor may be saying “Brahmin” which makes more sense since I have been to Vermont, and although green and pretty, I have never had much of a good time there.

Day Seven

I have a new yoga instructor. She is a Carolina girl with a pony tail who gives us easy stretches followed by more challenging positions, all optional. It sounds so nice when she says, “bring your left foot forward under your chin,” like magnolia blossoms mixed with sweet tea. She doesn’t make us say “ohm” and hands out tissues before we practice alternate nostril breathing.

During meditation, I spend a few minutes thinking about how to minimize contagion stress (a new medical term I have learned which I think has to do with husbands) and how strange it must look to see twenty motionless women on the floor with eyes closed; and then I slip away until someone sneezes, and I come back. From where? I don’t know. It wasn’t sleep, but it was nice.

Day Eight

Hands to heart. I breathe deep. The to-do list is gone. I think yoga is just what I need, and wish I had had it back in those days when I had had it – with my job, with my colleagues, with myself. We are reminded to be good to ourselves. And to others. And so…

May you be filled with loving kindness.

May you be healthy.

May you be peaceful and at ease.

May you be happy.

(Meditation Prayer)

About this writer

  • Mary Ann Crimi has been writing since first grade but only recently has found time to revise. Retired and rested, she now meets her muse in coffee shops, at the beach, and on the porch on the border of North and South Carolina.

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6 Responses to “The Yoga Diaries”

  1. Rose Ann says:

    Day Two . . . decades later. Day Three . . . more decades pass. HA! Love this essay! I’m glad you finally found a place for yoga in your life:)

  2. Rose Ann Ward says:

    I found “Yoga Diaries” to be informative, entertaining, and cleverly written. i thoroughly enjoyed reading this article.

  3. Karen says:

    I am now inspired to renew my commitment to yoga in this decade! As always your musings make me smile! Namaste.

  4. “Decades” ago I tried yoga….I enjoyed it but was not as flexible as I’d have liked. It was peaceful and relaxing. This essay made me smile, thinking back to those days. Maybe I should give it a try now that I, too, am retired!

  5. Carol Ryznar says:

    Very nice article, I am glad that you finally have found time for writing. Now for the novel about that Vermont trip.

  6. Mary Russell says:

    Loved it! Very well-written.

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