Reclaiming my yoga groove

I shaved my legs today for the first time in what is entirely too long for someone trying to follow gender norms. This has always been a problem for me: shaving my legs and following gender norms. I’m always left hairy in the shower, asking the same question: why?

But perhaps it is because of that, that I now find the practice ritualistic, if not still a waste of time and water. It’s become the thing I do when I’m ready to stand upright and wear pants with belt loops instead of elastic. It’s akin to a clean slate. A new beginning. A fresh start. I feel great today.

This week I started practicing yoga again. I cringe to admit it’s been months since I’ve had a regular practice. Last summer, the owner of the studio pissed me off so much that I left the studio and abandoned my practice as a result. That was around the time I started losing passion for health coaching. Everything kind of unraveled around the same time, as it does.

One thing the Hayward area lacks is a decent hot yoga studio. There isn’t a single hot yoga studio within a reasonable radius from my house. If I have to drive more than about 20 minutes or hop on a single goddamn freeway, it’s not worth it. Driving 40 minutes for a 60-minute class feels like a waste of so many things, even with an audiobook.

This is a major lifestyle problem for me because hot yoga is not only the only exercise I enjoy, but it’s the only exercise I can do. Unless you’re Google Fit and count walking as exercise, which it absolutely is and I love it.

I workout because I make myself, but I hate everything possible at the gym, especially weight lifting and cardio machines and tacky group fitness classes and locker room floors. I can’t run because my knee is fucked up. I can’t bike because we live on a steep hill surrounded by an industrial zone with no bike lanes. I can swim, but it’s boring as fuck and I haven’t found a podcast yet for my underwater mp3 player.

See, I have legitimate excuses for barely clocking in 60 minutes of “exercise” in Google Fit each day. Thankfully, I live upstairs and get some steps on my way to and from the kitchen. And sometimes I check the mail. Too bad none of it counts when I leave my phone on the desk.

Not that it matters, but let me tell you about what happened at The Studio That Shall Not Be Named. As I ponder the facts or at least the facts as I remember them, I think I may have blown this out of proportion. That’s a common hindsight realization for me, so I’ll choose not to dwell on that detail.

I had been working as a “Karma Yogi,” which is a euphemism for an illegal work arrangement in which I trade time cleaning the studio in exchange for a free membership. Yoga memberships in the Bay Area are totally ridiculous, so I gave an hour a week of my time instead of paying the $120. Plus, I had the time and it doesn’t hurt schmoozing a studio owner, or whatever it’s called when you have to interact with someone in higher power whom you secretly want to be.

Months ticked by like this. Occasionally she’d switch my shift on me, or promise a better shift time but never follow through, but for the most part, I was happy. The worst thing that happened was being asked to work with zero notice, right after I got out of class. That happened maybe two or three times, and each time I said no on principle. I refuse to work a shift with zero notice, even if the alternative is to drive home, shower, and wonder what else to do with the rest of the daylight.

The yoga itself was about as mediocre as it can get, so I was happy not paying for what I would otherwise not pay for. But as time went on, I decided I should probably start teaching. Teaching is more fun than sweeping floors and scrubbing toilets. And teaching felt like more of a “leadership” role. Mopping floors felt beneath me because I have a superiority complex.

The owner agreed. She’d actually been trying to get me to teach since the first week I showed up. I have a strong practice and I am a certified teacher. But I’m a coward and I said no. I told her I wasn’t ready and that I wanted to take it slow. In reality, I have no confidence in my teaching and felt totally intimidated to jump right in after not having taught a class in over 8 months. So I “took it slow” until late-summer, when I decided it was time.

We set an audition date, I designed a flow, practiced on my husband at home, got super nervous, and showed up prepared and excited for my big day.

Then, literally the minute I was supposed to audition, the owner comes out of her office at the studio and says “I’m busy. Go grab a lunch and come back in 2 hours.” That was it. She canceled on me on the spot, with no notice.

What. No. I know that by working for free and letting her change my schedule according to her whim, I’d displayed that I don’t value my time, but it turns out I do fucking value my time. I said sorry, no. I am busy the rest of the day. She said we should reschedule. I said no, I don’t think this is going to work out after all. This was my only time. So I walked out and haven’t seriously practiced yoga since.

That’s how caught up on principle I can get. I let that one moment totally derail my yoga practice for months!

Dear Lord, I had no idea this story was still inside me! This is not at all what I sat down to write about. I sat down to write about how amazing my home practice has been this week, and how rejuvenating it feels to get back on the mat, and how my body feels so stiff and weak–but not too stiff and weak–and how most of all, I feel hope. I feel hope that along with smooth legs and real clothes, I’ll get my yoga groove back, and therefore my overall life groove back.

Plus, I found myself awake at 5AM today so I walked to the computer and finally wrote that scathing review of Health Coach Institute I’ve been meaning to share. I’m not sure which is better: yoga or publicly ranting. Luckily, I don’t have to choose.



Wife, yogi, and cat mama living in the SF Bay Area.

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