Monday, August 22, 2011

Hold that pose

I hate yoga.

That's a bold, definitive statement, I know.

I've tried - I really have - to like yoga. If ever I've met someone who needs to find an activity that elongates her tight, torn muscles, it's me. As a sufferer of insomnia induced by an overly-racing mind, the benefits of finding a way to calm the chatter in my brain are not lost on me. And I would love to find a strategy to suppress my first instinct to react like an emotional buffoon every time I am faced with a stressful situation.

So I've tried a few different types of yoga. But I kind of hate them all.

Part of it is that I can't help but look at yoga as some yuppie craze, a bandwagon activity attracting an entire generation and enticing it with lululemon fashion designs (for which far too much money is spent but which promises to make you look like a million bucks while holding Warrior Pose).

And then there's the chanting. Don't get me started on the chanting.

So yes, I hate yoga. But I no longer have a choice. I've got to take it up. My massage therapist, chiropractor, physiotherapist and sports doctor have all ganged up on me and warned me that if I don't do something soon to elongate those ropey, knotted muscles, I will be unable to run without incurring a serious injury. Which would have a severe impact on my mental health and well-being. Not to mention on the Beast's well-being. He needs his weekly runs more than I do, lest he rip through the house like a 24-hour tornado of anxiety.

Which is how I came to be in a yoga studio this past Sunday, trying yet another type of yoga - hot, this time - in an attempt to ward off further damage to my tired body.

The good news is that it was not awful. I can see myself going back. (Well, at least one more time.)

The bad news? I started crying midway through the class.

I have no idea why I was crying. But there I was, on my back, trying to cross my right leg straight down and over my left leg while keeping my right hip anchored to the ground, and a wave of emotion swept over me, leaving in its wake a gigantic lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

Maybe it was because my body was giving up on me, openly rebelling against the pose that I was trying to assume. Maybe the heat was activating my tear ducts. Or maybe there really is something to this whole yoga thing and connecting with your inner self. Whatever the reason, it passed almost as quickly as it came, and so I kind of forgot about it.

Until I got home. And the Beast kept moving as far away from me as he possibly could.

Now the Beast is not one of these overly affectionate dogs that needs to be glued to your side at all times. He never snuggles with you, even if you are lying with him on his bed. He doesn't lick your face when you come near (unless you have just finished eating something and he's hoping for a crumb). And he never tries to get up on the furniture so that he can rest his head in your lap.

But he does want to know where his people are at all times. So when we are downstairs watching t.v., he follows behind us and settles at the end of the couch. If we are getting ready for work in the morning, we practically trip over him when we open the bathroom door to come out of the shower. And when we go outside to flip the burgers on the barbecue, he stands at the French door, perks up his ears, and practically holds his breath while waiting for us to come back inside.

So it's a little odd to me that he didn't want to be in the basement with me while I was watching Pirates of the Caribbean for the fifteenth time. I mean really, what's not to like about Captain Jack Sparrow?

And then I remembered that only a few hours earlier, I'd been crying for no apparent reason in a yoga studio. And the Beast knew that something was wrong, even though neither he nor I knew what it was. And he didn't want any part of my sad-sack state.

I've read a lot about dogs being able to pick up on your emotions. If they like what they sense, they stick around, listen, obey. If they don't like it, they leave, try to control the situation, and ignore your commands. While I've never entirely known if it is true, I've taken the necessary precautions just in case. When I catch myself getting frustrated with the Beast, I stop using words and revert to hand signals so that he doesn't hear the emotion in my voice. If I have a bad day at work, I take a minute to myself before I go through the front door and try to shake it off. I remain conscious of my body posture when I am in his presence so that he senses that I am confident and in control. Just in case there is something to this energy stuff that Cesar always talks about.

Well, maybe there is.

I guess I really don't know why The Beast didn't want to hang out with me yesterday. But I've decided to look at this as his attempt to help me. He's telling me to figure out what's eating me so that I can deal with it and move on instead of suppressing it and eventually having it come out in a more public display in the yoga studio.

I guess I have to go back to yoga, and risk letting some wave of emotion lodge itself in my throat again. At least until I figure out what is bothering me.

Because after all, if I had to choose between spending time with Captain Jack or hanging out with the Beast, I'll choose the puppy's floppy ears and brown eyes any day.