My name is John and I’m not flexible. Physically, that is. I love change. But I want to be (physically). My Special Lady Life Partner Fiance, Michelle, and I have made yoga a cool new thing we’re folding into our busy and active lives. It’s pushing my boundaries. And I love it.
A brief history of yoga. It was invented in the mid-eleventh century by the Incans and yielded a multi-dimensional purpose. First, to connect spiritually with the various gods that lived at the top of the mountains in present day Peru. Second, to facilitate stretching and “limbering up” amongst Incans carrying things up the millions of stairs that connected valleys to peaks in their nation. Third, stretch and relax the body following the trip up the millions of stairs. And then, for awhile, nothing new happened in yoga until, eventually, it was popularized by Gandhi in the 1950s – man, that guy was flexible.
And that brings us to the present, my friends. Michelle and I have completed about a half-dozen classes at Open Door Yoga – we have four free passes if anyone is interested in checking out this very, very cool school/business/lifestyle-provider. Their philosophy is right there in the title – open - and the instructors are masterful at creating a warm, inclusive environment where experts and rookies can, somehow, all benefit from a class. I’ve had the pleasure of learning from Stephanie, Road, Randy, and, my favourite, Farah. Farah was my first teacher, and, after her first class, I realized that Yoga is something that meets my physical and spiritual needs: it increases my flexibility and really, really allows me to relax. In fact, I just walked out of her class with a huge smile on my face and a delightful and stretchy spring in my step. The other instructors are great, too, and going to different classes with different teachers means a totally unique experience each time. No one has a calming voice like Farah’s, though. But all of ‘em can all put their legs way, way, way behind their heads, which would be sexy if it wasn’t so amazing and terrifying…
Speaking of terrifying, when I have to clutch and twist and cajole my body through different moves, it feels as painful and ridiculous as it must look. I have no flexibilty and, consequently, bend and stretch within the confines of a slightly modified program that the teachers are more than happy to personalize for my special needs. Knees bent. Loins girded. Breathing heavily. Face strained like I’m getting awkwardly painful surgery. But, somehow, I eventually pull off a position that is more or less what I see being performed by my most excellent classmates. Of course, there are also times (like when I try Eagle Pose) when I just topple over, narrowly missing others as I flail to the floor. It’s been a few weeks, and I can already feel my legs, hips, back, and other parts getting just a little more stringy.
Speaking of flexible and stringy, there’s also my brain. Working at a school can get a little, um, crazy during the Fall, so I have been making the most of these hour-and-fifteen-minute classes and find myself being just a wee bit more relaxed than usual. Not only that, but I feel as though I have the tools and strategy to relax myself on command wherever and whenever I need to, which, as you can imagine, is a pretty empowering feeling. Focus on the breathing. Roll the shoulders. Sigh as you exhale. Amazing.
Am I an expert? Obviously. Wait, no. Not even close. Come on. I wrote about Incans, man. But I am a new consumer of yoga who is getting hooked. And, hey, if you’re looking for a bit of a laugh I encourage you to visit Open Door Yoga on The Drive and take in the experience that is John Horn trying to cross his legs and arms and bend down slowly. It’s tragicomedy at its finest, my friends.
So, if you’re looking for a relaxing, energizing and wholly healthy physical and spiritual experience, check out a yoga studio (or a yoga-practicing friend) near you. I’ve been called a trendspotter before, and, well, I think this yoga thing might go places.