October 9, 2012

A curious assortment.

There are different yoga studios for all sorts of different people. There is Kundalini and Iyengar and Jiva Mukti, there is Ashtanga and Vinyasa, Bikram and good old Hatha, and those are just the ones top of my head. The idea that all these different styles could not only co-exist in peace, but also be taught under one roof, seemed impossible for a long time and is probably still snubbed by the true defenders of (insert your kind of yoga here). Cape Town is a liberal melting pot not only for people, but also for yoga styles. So we are blessed, or cursed, depending on which side of the mat you stand, with multiple studios offering a blend of yoga styles like Hot Vinyasa, Express Bikram, Acro-Yoga in the forest, or Yoga with weights. Seems like we Capetonians like to mix it up. Interesting enough all these studios still have their very own set of followers. There is the old, established studio that gets all the newbies, the one where all the suburban Mums go and a few pro Rugby players (which might explain why all the Mums go there), the one with the really serious yogis and where all the teachers practise, and then there is the one with the models, the acrobats, and the yoga Barbies. That’s where I currently go and yes, I like it. Though sometimes I’m astonished by this curious assortment of who considers themselves yogis today.
The other day we were all in the room before class started; some chilling, some stretching, and some performing circus-like acts. Only one girl was checking emails on her Blackberry. Apparently I was the only one slightly disturbed by the sight of a phone in the room, because nobody else even looked. Back in the day I remember people would ask us politely if they could take a phone in on silent. These were usually doctors or midwives and on emergency call. But she? Call me judgemental, but for some reason she didn’t look like a doctor or a midwife and surely a call back for a go see doesn’t qualify as emergency?
She wasn’t alone though in her profession and it made me wonder if models get sponsored yoga clothes. They always wear colour coordinated outfits, which need to be adjusted frequently throughout the practise to stay coordinated. Well, it’s a tough world out there right in front of the mirror, so you gotta look good while sipping on your designer water bottle. Same goes for the long, swooshy hair and why would anyone tie it up properly beforehand so it won’t come undone while you are hanging out in downward facing dog?
The acrobats are a whole other story. I once saw a guy in tight biker shorts worn over tights. I wasn’t quite sure if that was his regular ballet dancer look or if he was hoping for added sweating thus more weight loss in the heat. I didn’t think he needed it as he had a nice six-pack and strong arms which pushed him in and out of handstands for a warm up. There is usually quite a few of them. One I have seen a couple of times and I swear he must have escaped the circus, because that was the last time I saw such upper body strength and control. I didn’t think what he was doing qualified as yoga, but I will admit I was starring. It was kind of like getting an exclusive sneak-peak at Cirque du Soleil.
Then there are the proper yoga Barbies. They are usually a mix of girls who have either been practising for years or are just blessed with incredible flexible limbs. They look like a proper pretzel while they make you feel like the Weisswurst to go with it. It takes a solid ego to put your mat down next to them and you have to remember really hard that yoga is not about what it looks like from the outside, but what it feels like from the inside. And before you think me really mean, I used to love my Barbies and yes, I’m simply also a bit envious of these genetically blessed ladies.
My mother, a yoga teacher for most of her life, would probably shake her head at what we call yoga these days and who does it. Sometimes when I wait for class to start I do too. But then the acrobats, the models, the Barbies, and I all get into Child’s Pose and the room becomes quiet. That’s the moment when I make my peace with this assortment of so called yogis. At the end of the day whatever brought us onto the mats, now we are here, all doing yoga. Who cares if someone came for spiritual enlightenment or a slimmer waist line? Yoga is for everybody. Even if your hair is too shiny to be true.

P.S. After last night's class I think it is vital for your information that I add another group to this assortment: the moaner. Monica Seles had nothing on the girl I was next to yesterday. She may have just voiced her annoyment with me as I was late (may I add second ever class only!!) or because she was having a hard time, all well and good, but boy I was confused by these sounds coming from her. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind sounds when doing yoga at all, let it all out if that works for you... but she, she must have been practising for a porn star audition. Nobody makes sounds like this when they are laying still and not think of a certain something!


  1. YogAny, this an accurate and amusing synopsis of yoga in much of the western (and southern) world

    1. Love that nickname! But of course YogAny and YogAdam are the exceptions in this story :)


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