September 28, 2004


Six years ago I took my first yoga class. I recall no specifics of how or why I elected to do so, but I do recall being excited about it.

The pleasure I gained was almost sinful. After a long day of work, I'd join a quiet group in a quiet room, stretch out on a soft mat, and be instructed to "clear your mind" and "think of nothing but yourself, your body, and how you feel right here right now". For a mother who also worked outside of the home, it was heaven. Guilt-free mandatory relaxation.

After the opening relaxation period, we'd go through a bunch of stretches, deep breathing and more relaxation exercises. I'd always leave there feeling rejuvenated and fresh. I know, I know. It sounds bogus. But until you've tried it for yourself, don't be too quick to write it off.

I attended these classes for about a year. The instructor was eastern European and had a fabulous accent. He always spoke softly. He was good at what he did. There were several words he'd say often during the classes, two of which I clearly remember because of the way he pronounced them. "Nostril" sounded like "nos-TREEL" and "abdomen" became "abDOEmen".

How often does the word "nostril" get used in conversation? Not often. But he was instructing, not conversing. The word "nostril" came up extraordinarily often. Breathing and such. Whatever. Nos-TREEL. Love it.

So six years later, I decide I could use another dose of mandatory relation. I signed up with the same county park authority at the same location as before. And to my great delight, the teacher of the class is the same. I was grinning like an idiot when he walked in because I had been secretly hoping he'd still be teaching at this location and.... score! There he was.

What fascinates me is how the demographics of the class have changed over those interim years. Six years ago, the class was mainly middle-agish women with one 20-something male hippy tossed in for variety. Now, it's primarily couples in their 50s and 60s with a few single middle-agish women tossed in for variety.

So for the next 10 weeks on Wednesday evenings I'll be mandatorily relaxing for an entire hour and a half. My hand will be on my abDOEmen while I breathe deeply through my nos-TREELS. I'm one happy relaxer.

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