My Mantra for Yoga? Get Me Out of Here * CoveyClub

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My Mantra for Yoga? Get Me Out of Here

A skeptic with the best of intentions is forced to give yoga another go.

By Mimi Janian Lawless

A promise is a promise…no matter what. How could I disappoint Janie*, the sweetest of my friends?

As Janie inched her way toward fifty and I leapt several yards beyond, we both knew that our exercise regimes were in need of an infusion of something bold.

Last spring, we agreed to meet for morning walks, which at the time sounded like a great idea.

Fresh air, friendship and a cardio workout could deliver a triple treat.

The only problem was, it never happened. Over birthday lunch a year later, we resolved to change that. If walking didn’t work, then we would try yoga. Janie and I would be accountability buddies. No seriously; this time, we would make the effort and forge ahead. Forgoing a pinkie swear, we were in.

There is something that you should know about me: I hate yoga. I like yogurt…but unfortunately, that has nothing to do with anything.

My yogi friends vow that it is life changing, enriching and joyful. I can assure you that for me, it is none of those things.

Over the years, I had attended a class or two with well-meaning pals. Let me be clear: I did not begrudge the fact that they were human pretzels. But if God had meant for us to easily touch our toes, wouldn’t He have created us with feet on our shoulders? Think about that.

I would have to say that my biggest beef with yoga is the lingo. Yogis say things that leave us mere mortals bewildered. How can one sit there straight-faced while listening to phrases like, ‘Respect the space in between’ and not question, ‘in between what?’  Or ‘Acknowledge the heaviness of your left foot.’ Come on now; what does that even mean?

Thinking back, I vividly recall one particular class in which the yogi guided the group to collectively pant, then ordered us to take part in a primal scream. What, no baby as a reward?

Mimi Janian Lawless, seen smiling because she’s not actually doing yoga.

But the weirdest — there, I said it — was the yoga teacher who had us blow our noses while she counted, ten times, nostril by nostril. I can still picture her glazed expression as she handed out Kleenex to her devoted students. Dumbstruck, I accepted a tissue. As I watched and listened to the honking around me, I wondered if the woman was an aspiring ENT or a sadistic sage. I’m still not sure.

But that was years ago. Perhaps I could appreciate yoga more now as an older, wiser adult.

When I met Janie at the studio, we were both a bit tentative. There was something very ‘blind date’ about our adventure and we were overly polite about who should sign in first.

The instructor was lithe and perky – already a bad sign. I had hoped for a creaky-kneed Yoda type who might take pity on me. Instead, Miss Warrior Pose got right to it. Scanning the room, I noted there was not a wide range of participants. The Lululemon poster children appeared to be clones. All eager and willing, not one of them flinched when the teacher ordered us into downward dog.

I felt more like ‘bad dog’ and was ready to quit after 5 minutes, but there was that pact I made with Janie. How was I going to explain that although I admired and yes, envied my yogi friends, I could not meet them on their level.

My journey was different, in that theirs was ever evolving, fluid, serene. Mine was booked on Travelocity with a strict cancellation penalty. I felt trapped.

Then the yoga-speak commenced and I struggled to suppress a smirk. ‘Create an intention in the silence of your hearts,’ the instructor intoned.

Okay, how’s this? Please let me not embarrass myself and my friend.

‘Think of a mantra,’ she continued. Um, here’s one: Get me out of here.

Keep going, you can do this, I willed myself. Stay in the present. Don’t compare yourself to others. Oh my gosh; that woman over there should be in the circus, I thought. How was I supposed to take this seriously? I wish I knew when we signed up that Vinyasa is actually Sanskrit for, ‘torturous and unattainable poses.’

Almost there…I twisted, I turned, I endured.

At last, and not a moment too soon: redemption. ‘Shavasana’, the corpse pose. Well, how apropos, as I felt almost deceased.

Finally, I relaxed, reflected, and counted down the minutes until lunch.

The instructor interrupted my reverie by quietly offering a spritz of lavender. Couldn’t she have left well enough alone?

As the gentle chimes rang announcing the end of class, we were asked to sit up, bow to one another, and say ‘Namaste,’ which translates loosely to ‘are we officially done yet?’

After thanking the teacher, Janie and I headed to the parking lot. Having made scant eye contact for the last hour, I searched her face for clues.

What if she loved it? After all, Janie was by nature a serene person. This class might have been just her cup of tea.

Finally, away from the rest of the group, I tiptoed around the question, ‘Well, what did you think?’

I almost jumped for joy when she said, ‘I found it challenging,’ which to me signaled that she loathed it as much as I did. Janie did suggest that we look for another less rigorous class, perhaps restorative or Hatha yoga (again, from the Sanskrit for ‘zzzzzzzz’).

‘Sure, sure,’ I replied. ‘What a fabulous idea. Why don’t you check that out for us?’

In the meantime, while she’s searching, don’t mind me if I just Namastay home.

(*Names in this story have been changed to protect Jeanie’s — I mean Janie’s — identity and to spare me the wrath of Kelly, Brooke and Diane, who have been touting the benefits of yoga for years.)

Originally published on Just So Mimi.

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  1. Francesca Gortzounian

    Shavasana – my forever favorite yoga pose ever. Glad to know i’m not the only one who cringes when my friends invite me to Free yoga in the park!!!

  2. Leslie Barmakian

    I very much enjoyed the authenticity and humor Ms. Janian Lawless brings to her article. She covered a popular health discipline many of we gym-goers I’m sure find a bit mysterious, and her experience is very relatable. Loved how she threaded her personal story telling with unabashed humor throughout the piece, keeping the reader constantly entertained.

  3. Nell Shapiro

    Feel the same about yoga! Love my friends who love it but I have never understood the appeal and I am terrible at it!

  4. Susan Dyes

    BRAVO Mimi !! A humorous and insightful perspective on yoga 🧘‍♀️. Thank you.
    I used to do yoga , , never could do the contortionist poses, but now do Barre Mat which incorporates some yoga. My favorite easy poses are downward dog, plank and of course child’s pose. 😉

  5. Alex

    As always Mimi mixed her delightful humor with stories everyone can relate to. I can’t wait to read more!

  6. Lori

    Love this article! Thank goodness someone else has had the same thoughts when surrounded by talented yogis. Good for you for sticking it out. I think I would have been out at the nose blowing.

  7. Chris Bettis

    Being a very new yoga practicing person myself, Mimi so perfectly expressed my thoughts, fears and reservations! Thank you, Mimi, for making me laugh & not feel so alone in my lack of yoga enthusiasm!! I’m looking forward to reading more from Mimi!

  8. Karen Collazo

    Oh boy- we’ll put! I have tried to love yoga! I’m with you Mimi- even did hot yoga for a while- and then said- “wait a second, I hate the heat!” Needed this laugh! If this ended any other way- I would not have been convinced! Nama stay home or on the tennis courts!

  9. Sara Koffman

    Mimi is a superb writer – and for those of us who have suffered, not too silently, trying yoga and dropping out a.s.a.p. it was a joy to read her essay. Yoga may be a peaceful, wonderful practice but, in my case, when the teacher got hurt doing a pose, it was time for me to quit.
    Getting hurt skiing is one thing but the possibility of getting hurt doing yoga……

  10. Emily Brittain

    Oh this was a fun read! I can’t wait to share it with my yoga teacher to let her know how I really feel.

  11. Sari Kolodziej

    Loved reading 🌸Mimi’s views on yoga!! Feeling great knowing that I’m not in the (downward) doghouse for my opinion! Agree with Mimi, I’d prefer a yogurt!! NAMASTE!!

  12. Marlene Veloz

    Wonderful story! Mimi has a unique approach of incorporating humor in her storytelling that we can all relate to. Would love to read more from Mimi!

  13. Linda Johnston

    Bravo Mimi! Your yoga musings ring true! I left yoga years back when I sadly realized I could never compete with Sting and Trudie.

  14. Caroline Miller

    My daughter and I had the same thought bubbles going at a yoga class like this at a high-end spa in Utah, but it wasn’t until the earnest leader told us to fly like an airplane that we locked eyes and started to vibrate with suppressed laughter. We barely made it out alive and your funny essay brought it all back to life for me!

  15. Alicia

    I loved Mimi”s yoga experience !!!!may I never let a friend or enemy direct me to even try the mental anguish that one tries to participate just to learn a new”yogish”!!!tres chic!!!!!!! I am off to my balance class!!!!.

  16. Joan Vassos

    I am literally laughing out loud! For years I have felt like I’m the only women in Potomac that doesn’t do yoga…thank goodness I’m not the only one who can’t put my leg behind my head!

  17. Marcia Lund

    Always a good read when Mimi writes but I have to say I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. Keep writing so we can all keep reading the fun facts of life!

  18. Liz Cary Blum

    Thank you for writing about (and making me laugh) about not being a Yoga Mom! I spend my mental energy making sure my yoga pants are not falling down and worrying about everyone in the class judging me for having no clue what’s going on! Where’s the namaste in that?

    Thank you for making me laugh!

  19. Mary Amato Farrell

    Mimi’s writing style is light and melodic. Yoga obviously is not for everyone!
    Be well, peace, and namaste!

  20. Tigger Woulds

    Don’t give it up! Unless you’d really really rather just walk…
    Could we blame the yoga studio for you wanting to namastay home?
    It is a challenge to find a suitable studio and a good instructor, and then not get freaked out/discouraged by those seasoned yogi bods in “athleisure” wear.
    That’s why I prefer #ywa on YouTube. Perfect for my avid amateur yoga goals, and all in the comfort of my home.
    Keep at it! (Yoga AND writing :))

  21. Nectar Derghazarian

    Dear Mimi ,As usual I enjoyed reading your article .
    You have a great sense of humour a a lot of wit .
    I enjoyed this particular article on Yoga .
    You were expressing my thoughts too.I tried Yoga but was not for me either .
    I was laughing all the way reading you saying yes yes that is how I felt but Mimi is able to express it with a great sense of humour and wit
    You write beautifully .
    Looking forward to reading yet another article of yours in the near future .

  22. Frances Railey

    As a gal who has no hand-eye coordination, I actually find myself enjoying yoga because there is technically no hand-eye coordination..although coordination is definitely necessary, as I have come to find out! I thoroughly enjoyed your honest assessment of yoga for you since I think many of us can relate, myself included. I had NO CLUE what the yogis were talking about the first few times I attended. Although I don’t go regularly, I keep telling myself that I will change that but after reading this very entertaining essay, I don’t feel as badly for breaking that goal! Thank you, Mimi, for making me smile the entire time that I read your essay!

  23. May Ghraoui

    Amazing!!!!! Bravo Mimi, loved… loved every minute , feel absolutely the same! You made me smile and laugh through it all , always so relatable. Can’t wait to read what comes next! Et toujours très chic chérie !! Even on a yoga mat !!!

  24. Lori Caplan

    Love it–even though as you know, I do love my yoga, your take on it makes me laugh and realize how it’s just not for everyone. “Namastay” my dear friend and I’ll meet up with you for lunch instead!!

  25. Jean

    Once again Mimi makes me laugh with her insight, turn-of-phrase and honesty. A smile always crosses my face when I read something by Mimi.

  26. Susan

    Everything Mimi does she does with flair and humor! No one says it better or in a more captivating way. Guess Goat Yoga will be next! Onward and upward, Mimi!

  27. Gita Marin Joyce

    Thank you for sharing your mantra! This was a delightful read. You immediately put a smile on my face and I could not stop giggling at your JOYful humor throughout. Looking forward to more. Blessings to you, dear Mimi. xo ~GJ

  28. Yvette Zarookian

    My darling Mimi, I totally enjoyed reading about your yoga experience!
    Love to read more of your humorous stories and fun experiences.

  29. Kristin Bonacci

    Oh Mimi, your wit makes me smile and this made me laugh out loud! I have not found the joy in yoga and glad to see we have the same opinion. You have a flair for finding humor on topics that so many of us can relate to. Can’t wait to read your next column!

  30. Kristin Bonacci

    Oh Mimi, I love your humor and this made me laugh out loud. I too have not found the joy of yoga. So glad to see you feel the same. You have a flair for finding the humor in topics that so many can relate to. Can’t wait to read your next column!

  31. Brooke Maudhuit

    Despite the fact that I have practiced yoga for the past twenty years and absolutely love it, this article had me in tears and I can’t wait to read more by Mimi!
    I have to admit that when a teacher asks me to relax my baby toe or tease my inner thigh muscles, I’m at a loss!

  32. Nell Taylor

    I loved this article so much! I too feel like an audience member at the circus at a yoga class. I love the way she turns the yoga lingo into hysterical banter!
    Mimi is witty, clever, and forever honest with her words. I cannot wait for her next article!

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