Yoga schmoga

Yoga class tonight was great. I learned three new poses. This is what happens when you skip two classes; you come back and get to learn a whole bunch of poses all at once. (So much more bang for the time spent in bare feet on a hardwood floor when it’s STILL snowing outside! This girl does not do bare feet until May.*)

I am a yoga newbie, by the way. I know about 12 poses, and I suck at most of them. I particularly suck at all of the supine “relaxation” poses. I may be the worst corpse poser in all of yoga’s lengthy history. My brain, she does not shut off, unless perchance she is hit by a blunt object. What happens when I get in these supine poses and they tell us all to breathe and turn the lights off and cover us in blankets and put little sweet-smelling pillows over our eyes (I know, best exercise class ever!) is that I either a) fall asleep and start dreaming, or b) let all that fabulous deep-breathing oxygen work its way into my brain and I come up with brilliant ideas and then my mind starts whirring.

I rationalize that the yoga gods would be cool with this. I am, um, opening myself up to the universe, and getting in touch with my creative core, and Namaste, shanti, shanti, etc. right?

Something like that. I’m also pretty bad with the philosophy part of yoga. But, lest you think I’m a complete screw up, my downward facing dog totally rocks.

So today, we learned Supta Baddha Konasana, which looks like the picture, although we didn’t use the pilows at the side, but wrapped blankets around our feet for support (I’m in favor of this, given the snow and the bare feet). And there I am, lying in a very vulnerable position, eyes closed, all open to the universe and whatnot, and I begin thinking about a problem I’ve been having with my work. It’s been frustrating me a lot lately.

You know, it occurs to me that I don’t often talk about that on my blog. I rarely come on here and say, “I had such a rotten writing day today. Anyone want to lend me a drill so I can make a hole in my head and force the words out one by frickin’ one?” But I do have those days. Weeks. Months. But mostly, I consider myself so incredibly lucky to be able to do what I do for a living that I don’t want to complain. Or more that I don’t want to complain in Googleable print that someone can then throw in my face later when I talk about how much I love my job. Because I do love it. Even when it’s hard and headache-making.

So yes, FYI, writing sometimes really sucks and I get very frustrated and I want to cry and moan and throw my computer at something hard so as to create a satisfying crashing sound. Nothing is perfect. But the worst writing day is still better than any day I ever spent answering phones at the insurance company. I can’t imagine the blog I would have had had I known of blogs when I worked at that place.**

But I digress. Today was not a bad writing day. I had yoga. But I have been frustrated with a particular facet of my work recently and most of my buddies have heard me whinging about it. (Hi, buddies!) Earlier this week I was whinging to my agent. (Hi, agent!) And she told me that I needed to step back a bit, away from all the advice I was getting from buddies and agents and go with my gut.

So it was a good thing we were doing abdomens at yoga class today, as I became intimately acquainted with my gut. So I spent and hour and a half working my gut off, and then I got in that Supta Somethin’ Somethin’ pose–which, as you can see from the picture, is very gut-centric–and inner and outer spiraled and breathed in the sweet-smell from the eye pillows and started being a very bad supine poser because I was thinkingthinkingthinking…

And I think I know what I need to do.

Which is a very relaxing thought, indeed. In an exciting, “let’s get to it” kind of way.

See? I’m so bad at relaxing.

I’ll update later with this week’s book giveaway winners.



And I think she’s out of town.

* Now we all get to hear Robin wax poetic about the joys of hot-room yoga.
** Which was many years ago, and I have had several perfectly lovely day jobs since then, very few of which have ever made me cry, let alone cry daily. I made a rule after working there that never again would I do something evil for employment. Working there felt like being a henchman in a Bond film. Like a Stormtrooper on the Death Star.

Posted in confessions, giveaway winners, writing life

21 Responses to Yoga schmoga

  1. Jami Alden says:

    I’m very jealous you get to go to yoga. I haven’t been able to fit it into my schedule much, except for one class last Sunday, my first in over a year. But I am happy to report I can still do crow pose at 7 months pregnant! But my flexibility has gone to pot.

    But I do remember having very productive writing thoughts while in shivasana (sp?) The brain doesn’t shut off, but you get that really cool half asleep dream thing going, which helps solve all sorts of problems. I’m with you though – writing is both the best, and the very hardest/emotionally draining job I’ve ever had. But I think dream jobs are supposed to be challenging, or else we’d get bored.

  2. Heather Harper says:

    I’ve never been to a yoga class. I’m probably doing all the poses wrong.*g*

    But I do love me some legs up against wall pose. Back heaven.

  3. Sudeep says:

    I used to go to Yoga classes in india long back and then left and never caught up. My master was really cool at lot of yoga postures even at age 94. Learnt a lot of meditation too from him. He used to ask all of us to meditate for 20-30 minutes before we began exercising. And that you quieten mind a lot before I could simple exercise. Do you get to meditate too along with the yoga exercises that you?


  4. eatrawfish says:

    Hey! I just started doing Yoga too. But mine is super-easy Yoga and I don’t know the names of any of the poses we do. Except downward facing dog, which I got gently corrected in this week.

    But my Super Cool LA moment? Discovering I’m learning Yoga from the daughter of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. This tickles me to no end.

  5. Patrick says:

    I find crouching death strike to be a very relaxing pose. Sure it really stretches the calves, but who doesn’t want a good calf stretch?

  6. Robin Brande says:

    Yes, smart aleck, I do enjoy my hot, sweaty yoga quite a bit–especially in the winter, especially where I am right now in a snowy mountain town.

    Here’s the thing about yoga: it’s a chance to be totally in love with yourself. To take yourself out on a date, pull the chair out, order the most expensive things on the menu, give you flowers, tell you you’re pretty, ask if you can please see you again.

    Because it’s as indulgent as going for a massage, but better in some ways because you’re using your own body to fix your body. I love getting massages, but I feel better when I’ve been an active participant in my own relaxation and tension relief.

    Any time I find I’ve overscheduled myself (um, D, looking at your list of events that you recently posted, this means you) I purposely give myself a mini-spa experience of going to yoga three or four days in a row. It’s amazing how much clearer my skin looks, how much better my back and neck and shoulders feel, how much lighter my mood is.

    So that’s my recommendation to all you writers who have hit the wall: Take yoga four days in a row and fix yourself. It’s not just about unclogging your mind, it’s also about taking care of the machine that is your writing body. I’ve heard so many older writers say the thing that holds them back is all their neck and wrist and back aches. Don’t let this be you.

    And by the way, you don’t have to go to a class. There are some great tapes out there. I love Ali McGraw’s yoga tape, but there are some other equally fine ones.

  7. Robin Brande says:

    You know, maybe I should offer to teach a Yoga for Writers session at some writing conference. There’s a collection of moves you could do for fifteen minutes every day that would really help. And they’re easy, no-pretzelling moves (believe me, I am a normal person–not one of those extreme yogis who appear to have no cartilege). You think anyone would be interested?

  8. Rhiannon says:

    But Diana – you *did* clear your mind. Perhaps what you were having trouble with was that you have all this other stuff along with your writing going through your head. Planning for trips, awards, deadlines, but all of those have to be cleared away for you to focus. So you didn’t reach that white spot on the dark wall on the horizon (My favorite thing to focus on when trying to clear my mind) – but maybe what you did was clear out everything else, so that you could focus on what you needed to focus.

    Yeah, being able to focus on nothing except the clean air coming in and bad air going out would be FANTASTIC, but wasn’t this a nice baby step?

  9. Carrie says:

    I love that half-aware state of day-dreaming. I come up with all sorts of good plot ideas while in that state (remembering them is another story). When I was on heavy drugs for my back I got in that state often and figured out all sorts of things about my WIP.

    I think I may be one of the few people who doesn’t like yoga. I love the idea of yoga, but I just can’t do it and I find it more frustrating than helpful. First of all, I find that when I’m overweight no yoga teachers understand that fat actually gets in the way of getting into some of the positions. Second, I have just discovered that I have some weird back/pelvis fusion that might stop me from getting into poses. I also think I had bad instructors. All in all, not good. Perhaps I’ll try it again one day…

  10. Patrick says:

    Yes Robin. You’re normal. Very Very Normal. (Everyone, just go along with her.)

    Oh, Diana, it’s not snowing in Florida today.

    Isn’t pilates cooler than yoga? It’s more fun to say. It kinda sounds like a kind of coffee. Can I have a pilates grande — shaken, not stirred?

    maybe it’s time to stop listening to the 007 sound track…

  11. RenaissanceGrrl says:

    I Love Love Love Yoga, its such a great way to unwind I wish I could do it every day. Although you are right, it’s hard to completely tune out sometimes. I’ll be laying in some sort of relaxtion pose thinking about the kid, my hubby, the full time gig, my writing, the dirty bathroom.

    But hey at least I’m getting some exercise in and its so much better than all that cardio which is supposed to be ideal for pear shapes trying to loose weight, screw cardio I’ll take downward facing dog any day.

  12. Celeste says:

    Yoga and Pilates both feel awesome after sitting at the desk all day.

    What Robin said about doing yoga three or four days in a row – definitely true! Better skin, better posture, no back pain whatsoever. Also, Robin, *great* idea on the Yoga for Writers conference workshop.

    Diana, I do hope you make some time for you in the next few months.

  13. Wendy Roberts says:

    I can’t help you with yoga but if you ever need yet another pair of eyes on a scene, just send it my way. I’ve missed reading your stuff.

    I’m glad you were able to find your answer during a yog pose. I’d rather work out mine in a hottub LOL.

  14. Diana Peterfreund says:

    I have no idea what crow pose is, Jami. But yes, I know what you mean about that half-dream state. Love it!

    Heather, I too love “legs up a wall” pose. I was reading somewhere that some teachers don’t recommend that for women during their period, which I find amusing, because my OBGYN father *does* recommend it to relieve cramps.

    Sudeep, I don’t meditate. I really, really doubt I could.

    Eatrawfish, you take yoga from LESLIE BOGART?!?!?!?! OMG. You really DO have it all.

    Robin, my local RWA group recently had a yoga for writers workshop. I definitely think you should do it! I’ll have to look into going a few days in a row. I have some makeups on my roster.

    Rhiannon, you’re right. Though I don’t know if I’ve got any more “clear” in me than that. My instructor is all about us laughing and making jokes while in poses. Apparently the type of yoga I do is “community oriented.”

    Carrie, you and I should go and have Robin teach us yoga in a hot room.

    patrick, m’dear, if you make me jealous about Florida, I will hunt you down and garrotte you. Two more months until I get to go home. And no, from what I’ve heard of pilates, it’s sounds like seventeen different types of hell.

    renaissance, cardio is supposed to be good for pear shapes? Why, particularly? Also, I’m so pear shaped, it’s not even funny. There’s a 1.75 ratio between my hips and my waist.

    thank you celeste! I should have known you’d be into yoga!

    Wendy, don’t tempt me.

  15. ERiCA says:

    I now feel like I’m the few remaining folks who hasn’t tried yoga. Well, when I was 9, I did check out a yoga picture book from the library and amuse myself with failing at poses for a few hours, but never since. Maybe I should try it. I, too, suffer from The Brain That Will Not Shut Up. I love ah-ha moments, and I’d be willing to do the Supine Something’ to get there…
    Or the crouching death strike. That sounds pretty bad-ass, too.

  16. Annie says:

    Congrats to Julie!! Woohoo!!

    I used to take yoga years ago and really should start back up to regain flexibility I’ve lost over the years.

  17. Jami Alden says:

    Crow pose, or Bakasana:

  18. Patrick says:

    Oh, that pose! I frequently do that on other people’s tables at restaurants. Hiss at them and they get all freaked out.

  19. spyscribbler says:

    I did yoga every single morning for six or seven years. Then I moved across the street, and this somehow got me out of the habit.

    I took up taekwondo, but then messed up my foot badly. I’m thinking I’ll get back to my yoga until it’s ready for some kicking!

    Hey, words one by one is pretty good. Some days, I’m pulling them out letter by letter. 🙂

    Good luck with the yoga!

  20. Patrick says:

    You know, it was so nice in Florida today, I think I got a little bit of sunburn.

  21. Julie Leto says:

    I was out of town and now I’m back and I’m SOOOOOOOOOOO excited!!