“We’re going to do a wall class today.”, the instructor chirped cheerfully as we walked into the room, grabbing props and putting down mats along the way. “Has everyone taken a wall class?” I said, “I spent a lot of time against the wall in college, mostly as a hold myself up, last stop before the “I’m not too drunk to lay on the floor stage”. (Thinking that while I’ve had may classes where we did certain poses against the wall, I couldn’t recall a “wall class”. All the while various silly rifts on “wall” were running through my brain- “Up against the wall, M*^%#r F#%*#r!!! “Balls to the wall”.). I’m open to new experiences I though – I’m in.
Class starts with this lovely quote by Eric Schiffman. “Yoga is a way of moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you are. It is also a way of learning to be centered in action so that you always have the clearest perspective on what’s happening and are therefore able to respond most appropriately.” That’s nice I think… stillness. I’ll try to quit thinking about the fact that these first few minutes of poses are already making me feel a little gassy, and what Karmic Lesson im supposed to learn from the phone call two hours ago explaining to me the $600 in repairs my car needs to come out of the shop. “Stillness”
“Yoga is a way of moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you are. It is also a way of learning to be centered in action so that you always have the clearest perspective on what’s happening and are therefore able to respond most appropriately.” As she reads it again. I’m feeling more peaceful – and gassy. And disappointed over this $600 bill.
For the “yoga free” readers, many of the poses done all the time freestanding on your mat can also be done against a wall. The positive benefit is that the wall provides support and eliminates the strain in entering and holding the pose while balancing (because despite what all the yoga instructors sweetly chortle about “Don’t worry if you fall over, your neighbor won’t mind”, is unbelievably NOT true because your “neighbor” is gonna be downright pissed if you fall over into her, sending the entire line of yogi’s crashing to the floor like dominoes.
Here’s one example of a pose normally done free standing but also done against the wall. Taiko asana, or triangle pose.
Like I said, what’s nice about this is that while you contort yourself into this position, since your back is against the wall, you’re not busting a gut struggling not to topple over. What’s “challenging” about this pose is trying to get both arms, your shoulders and your back, well, UP AGAINST THE WALL. Or as the yoga instructors syrupily say, “providing opportunities to check your alignment”. Ahhhh “Stillness”
So we get through 45 minutes of class and reach the final pose of every yoga class, Savasana. A time of deep relaxation (or nap time for me, after I have twisted myself into such a pretzel I have actually gotten my own head up my own ass – which I have been told on more than one occasion even years before I DID yoga). Savasana is googled defined as “The final pose of any yoga class is one of deep restoration: Corpse Pose, also sometimes called Final Relaxation Pose. Its Sanskrit name, “Savasana” (shah-VAHS-uh-nuh), comes from two words. The first is “Sava” (meaning “corpse”), and the second is “asana” (meaning “pose”).” Now, I’m a big fan of corpse pose. As challenging as I find yoga, I can lie on the floor with the best of ’em. Sometimes, people do savasana in “legs up the wall pose”. It looks like this:
So, her we are, at deep relation time, and we’re in legs up the wall. Except, since we’re relaxing, I have my feet apart by about a foot. I’m settling into relaxing, when all of a sudden she come over to me, and the guy on the mat next to me and puts a 16 inch wide black 2 lb sandbag balanced on the bottoms of our feet. Hmmmm, I thought, I’ve never been sandbagged in a yoga class, but ok. I’m open to new experiences. “Stillness”.
I’m settling back in when I feel the left part of the sandbag on the left foot slip to the right, a little more In between my legs. Then about 30 seconds later the right half does the same thing. After a fleeting thought about keeping my feet flatter and more flexed, the left slide slips again and I realize that if this sandbag just falls between my legs I’m about to get sacked in the balls by a sandbag. And after all those twists in class, I’m feeling more gassy. (Despite the common myth, it is NEVER cool to pass gas in yoga class and sometimes the interesting look you see on people’s faces as they leave yoga class is not endorphins or meditation but the effect of holding back gas until you can feel your eardrums coming out your ear canal from the pressure.
The right side slips again. I’m normally trying not to snore by this point in a savasana, but instead I’m feeling sweat beading on my forehead as I’m trying to survive this silly version of a hazing episode from a military college. The left slide slips again. I now sadly realize, and with some anxiety, that the sandbag careering towards my balls is an inevitability. This is all complicated by the cultural requirement that one not move, get up, make any noise or otherwise disturb all the other savasana junkies in the room. This 10 minutes of bliss already feels like an hour. I’ve often said that I don’t understand why the CIA water boarded suspected terrorists after 9/11 when we had an entire legion of yoga instructors who could have easily extracted any information by using a variety of poses over say- 4 hours”. This is my karma for that joke I think. I’d tell re anything right now to come and get this sandbag. The bag finally falls and I instinctively slam my knees shut, catching the sandbag, pre ball smashing. I did think however, how the human body can move faster than Donald Trump on a bicycle through a Latino festival on Cinqo de Mayo when a heavy object is hurtling towards ones genitals.
So now, I’m laying there and my knees are slammed together and my feet are spread apart and I’m holding ever muscle so I don’t sound like the proverbial old person who get up to cross the room and passes gas all the way sounding like an Evinrude on full throttle racing to get to the spot on the lake where the other guy just caught the 36 in bass. I realize I look like a 10 yr old kid who REALLY needs to pee, but can’t get to a bathroom for one reason or another. You know, THIS LOOK…..
Except I’m on my back, upside down, with my legs up the wall, squeezing a sandbag between my knees.
FINALLY, she starts the nornal wind up and I can grab the sandbag and fall to the floor exhausted and soaked from sweat.
It’s ok, the next time an instructor come up with a sandbag while my legs up the wall, I’m gonna put my feet together, flex them flat, take a deep breath, think “Stillness”, exhale slowly……and stab the soft underbelly of her feet with my fingernails until she drops the sandbag.