yoga ptsd. it’s real.

Could. Not. Resist.

So I’m fresh out of a yoga class and more crotchety than ever, as it was specifically labeled Hatha on the gym’s schedule and yet specifically turned out to be Vinyasa.

Listen. I don’t like Vinyasa. I come out with pain in my back (don’t bother me with big words like “psychosomatic”) and can’t move my neck for 2 days (it’s real! You don’t even know!) and feel generally all around irritated by all the speediness (because I’m slow), and hardness (because I’m awkward), and, arbitrarily, the fact there’s someone in the class today who persisted in breathing loudly through his/her mouth and making me crazy. You’re supposed to be shutting out the distractions, and “panting like Big Bad Wolf” qualified as a distraction to the degree that soon I could not focus on anything else. During meditation, I took the opportunity while everyone’s eyes were closed to peer around the room, because if I identified the miscreant I was going to punch him in the throat. NAMASTE, MOTHER&*(^$R!! (…I might scream while I did it, all Die Hard-style. Yesssss.).

Yeah, that’s how the wrong yoga makes me feel: actively hostile.

I recognize this is very strange.  I can’t help it. Something about the energy of power yoga brings out my aggressive side.

Now, if I gave myself a therapy session on why this may be – and years of reading womens’ magazines totally qualifies me to do so – I could, after several false starts of blaming my mother, eventually reveal to myself the true likely origin of this hostility. My first yoga class ever was at the San Francisco gym I joined after college, taught by The Meanest Yoga Teacher on the Planet (except for this guy). He was tall and thin and nerdy and overdramatic, fiercely dedicated to the study but perhaps not the teaching of this art, the type of person who tells you how stupid you are but never explains why, or what you are doing wrong. “This pains me, what you’re doing right now,” he’d say, touching you on the shoulder, and moving on.

Sometimes he would spend the entire class forcing us to stay in one position, usually downward-facing dog, and walk around the room railing about our miserable incompetence. “It’s truly amazing,” he’d say, “how an entire roomful of people can fail to grasp something so basic.” Worse was when he would stop and direct the rest of the class’ attention to one unlucky participant. “No, no, NO! Do you see this? Everyone, look at this. Stop what are you doing. Stop. It’s horrifying, what you’re doing. Look at this man. Do it again, what you were doing. Ok, now. Everyone? What is he doing wrong? Do you even know? No. You don’t even know. Why am I here. Why do I waste my time? Eh? Back to downward facing dog!”

Worst of all (for him, not for us) was the idea of the shock we would inflict on his yogi, fortunately safely insulated from us back at his ashram in India, if he were to walk into our class one unfortunate Tuesday. “If my guru could see this,” he’d say in true grief, his hands pressed against his eyes, “he would stab a baby. You people are an atrocity.”

Since I assumed all classes went this way, I couldn’t understand how other people could tell me they just loved yoga. “It’s so GREAT!” gushed my coworkers. “Everyone should do it. I’m so relaxed and peaceful afterwards!”  Who were these masochists?

But on the other hand, I doubted myself. Maybe it did get better? Was it so miserable because I wasn’t trying? I went back, 3 or 4 or 5 times.

But it didn’t get better. I was always in physical pain after my hour of downward dog and verbal abuse, and I never learned anything except to passionately hate yoga. I finally gave it up. As far as I could tell, yoga was the worst thing ever. The masochists could have at it.

Of course, eventually – years later –  I tried another class, at another gym, and, realized some important truths:

(A) that guy was completely &*^@ bonkers, and also,

(B) no yoga should be that awful, and usually isn’t, and furthermore,

(C) there are different types of yoga, and you can pick what you like.

I turned out to be a Hatha kind of girl. I’m willing to stretch and reach and work on balance and consider trying be centered and calm and all that. I’m not always successful (did I mention my Latin temper?), but I try, and I like it. Probably better I not contribute my crazy energy to Vinyasa anyway. Chaturangas not fast enough? YEAH?? Well, your stupid guru can go – “Hmm, let’s close our eyes, now,” says the instructor, touching my head. “Try to relax.”

Oh, riiiiiight. We’re back to the part I claim to like. Well, I’m still not so great at meditation either, as you can probably tell. Stretching and breathing (QUIETLY, you BASTARDS), okay. Shutting out the distractions, well…still in development.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. The Yoga Diaries
    May 31, 2012 @ 01:13:21

    Hi fellow Yogi,

    Do you have a story of healing or transformation through yoga that you’d like to share with the world? The Yoga Diaries is now accepting submissions.

    We invite you to share your story.

    We believe now more than ever the world needs to hear about the healing power of yoga. Please help us to spread the light…and the healing.

    The Yoga Diaries


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