There are times in my life when I look back to where my fear of what might happen was so strong it dominated reason, biology, and eclipsed reality. That bubble of nerves sat getting bigger and pressed up inside me to a point where I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. It was all about what might happen if…
I was raised catholic so every Sunday morning I was drug out of bed put in an itchy crinoline skirt; my mom slapped a doily on my head keeping it in place with a bobby pin. Then we were off to church, my sisters and I clutching cold pieces of toast. For Easter we went bigger. Easter meant puffy matching dresses and a parade of bad hats with plastic flowers in an array of pastel colors. I didn’t like much about church but what I did like was the garb of the guys up front, the swinging ball of incense, and the chanting. I loved the ritual and ceremony, the early morning calisthenics like Simon Says, sit, kneel stand, sit, stand, sing eat the body of Christ, kneel. As young as I was I didn’t buy into what was behind it, it seemed more like showbiz.
Sitting on hard high polished wooden pews with bare legs or stockings led to perpetually rutching around to get comfortable which never happened. It also led to one of my larger childhood fears, farting in church. Just the idea I would do it made for a cheek clenching fight of holding back the imaginary bubble that would cause my death by embarrassment. Now I knew I wouldn’t really die of embarrassment in church but I certainly would by the back of my mothers hand in the parking lot toot sweet after the service. Week after week I would clench in moments of silent prayer both internal and external and relax just a little during the hymns. I managed to make it through those years without the incident occurring.
That said my imaginary bubble waiting to escape has appeared in many arenas as I grew up. Yes I understand it is nerves but that does not negate the fact that it’s there and I would still die from embarrassment had it appeared in those job interviews, airplane and elevator rides and first time sexcapades with someone new. It seems now at 47 I have added another venue to the list. This venue is a place like church where the hard polished wood acoustics, chanting, incense brings the acute flash of crinoline, doilies and dread. Only this venue requires lyrca and mats, it is a yoga studio.
I am not a nimble person. Not particularly athletic, coordinated or balanced. I am tall, six foot one; I am also top heavy in a stripperesque style via a generous mother nature. I would have killed in vaudeville. Now I just buy expensive bras due to the specialized engineering to keep the girls up. God bless those diligent engineers. I walk and run most days to keep fit. I wanted to add a strength component to my workout; I especially wanted to strengthen my core which is that of the Michelin Man currently. I have always wanted to learn yoga. I have bought DVD’s and tried them at home. I have also taken a variety of short community center classes in varies states I have lived. Many of these classes were years ago when yoga that was taught was primarily a gentle, stretchy, meditative yoga with grey haired sweat suit wearing nana’s. These days we have all varieties of yoga, many still have the old elements of meditation and stretch but now they have morphed to strength sweat inducing full body workouts. This was what I was looking for!
When I moved toSan Diego’sSouthParkneighborhood I saw a great little yoga studio called Ginseng that was only 7 blocks from my house. I poked my head in the store and it was warm, small and welcoming. At the time I was about 30lbs heavier and not ready for any kind of body hugging clothing class. I also did not see to many patrons and the ones I did see were svelte and willowy. Yikes, I went to Target and got some more DVD’s to practice to get ready for the day when I could try a class. It was not an unusual occurrence that I would fall ass of tea kettle in trying to twist my body in a simple pose. I have carpet so there was just a nice dull thud, then a groan from me. I really did not want to do this on a hardwood floor with witnesses.
So over the months every once in awhile I would pull out the DVD’s for 20, 30 even 40 minutes at a clip and do what I could with at least one bounce per session. I got a little familiar with poses and the language so I felt good about that. As I whittled my weight down I still had yoga in the back of my head. When Spring Break came I took off on a road trip to theGrand Canyon. I needed a change in scenery and felt the need to wander. It was perfect. When I was on the road a friend of mine who does his own form of yoga at home checked into a great deal at Ginseng the studio near my house. He found that if you are a first timer to the studio you could buy an unlimited yoga class pass for 10 consecutive days. Each day as I traveled I got reports on which class he took, what the teacher was like and rave reviews for the place. By the end of my road tip I knew I had screwed my courage up to try the introductory offer. I was anxiety ridden the night before but if he could do it, and said they were nice folks, then so could I. As a side note this guy is an athlete, competitive, tone, strong and very fit. You just want to hate him, and occasionally I do.
The morning I went I met Gale the woman at the desk I let her know I was very nervous as I bought the pass. She was great, very kind, funny and helpful. My first class was a very stretchy, gentle class. I was nervous I would fall, I was nervous I would take out a row of people when I fell and cause injury, but I was most nervous of was a well placed fart. I was in church again. That first class I took with my cheeks so clenched I am sure half the sweat of the workout came from the glutes being engaged for 75 minutes solid. Unlike church there are not hymns in yoga and the chanting is only for a minute or two in the beginning. I broke out in a full body sweat towards the end of class when we did shoulder stands; inversion is the invitation for bubble trouble. The bubble and been pressing all class. I could only half hear what the instructor said due to the debate in my head on which tact would work; blaming it on the guy next to me or ignore it and look around bewildered. I got up into the shoulder stand and out of it without incident. I made it through the first class successfully but had 9 more days and lots of opportunity stretched out in front of me.
I worried and obsessed for that 9 days taking a class almost daily. When they were up I bought a 20 class pass and worried for a few more classes. Then it was gone, the bubble, the nerves, the fear. This is huge since I eat my share of bean burritos. I said earlier that there were times in my life when I look back where my fear of what might happen was so strong it dominated reason, biology, and eclipsed reality. When I was younger I would avoid situations because of this. As I got older I knew that sometimes the “what if’s” were fiction. When they weren’t fiction I didn’t die of embarrassment I had a funny story to tell when it was over. It gave me laugh lines, confidence and a sterling sense of humor about life. Now really that a whole lot of goodness to get out of a fart isn’t it?