Mmmm... I am soooo yogafied right now. (That's yoga-fied, not yoga fried. Small but distinct difference. Yogafied is blissed out. Yoga fried is, Stick a fork in me, I'm done!!) Did a few good hours of yoga this morning with some visiting friends, took my body for a spin through some of the advanced postures at the end of it. Hadn't done that in quite a while, and it went better than I had any reason to expect it would. Fabulous.
I keep thinking about the spine this week.
(Ok, that doesn't make that week very different from any other week, but bear with me, I'm trying to make a point here.)
Between my work-study position as front desk girl at the yoga studio (I am the welcoming committee) and my (mild!) evangelizing to friends, co-workers, and family, I've spent a decent amount of time trying to describe Bikram yoga to other people. You guys know the spiel. First the basics. It's 90 minutes. It's the same 26 postures every time. It's for beginners. It's how hot?!? But then what do you say, after you've laid down the basics? There are a few things that make the Bikram series unique in my view. First is its effectiveness as a healing tool. Next is its completeness - the fact that it somehow manages to work virtually your entire body, including muscles and organs that you didn't even know you had. (To be honest, I'm still not sure where my pancreas are or what they do, but I know that I am working on them!) And then there's the spine. I've been in plenty of other physical disciplines in my time - ballet, pilates, other yoga - and I've encountered nothing that zeroes in on the spine the way this series does.
The thing that's become transparent to me about the series is that every posture is a spine posture. Every single one. Just try to prove me wrong! (Any takers...?) I like to picture what a spine would look like as it goes through a Bikram class. Take off all those extra moving parts - feet, hands, legs, elbows, brain - and just visualize your spine, from coccyx to neck, as it goes through 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. Picture it lengthening, stretching, bending from side to side, from front to back, lengthening and twisting, until it comes out all healthy and happy at the end, wrung out and scrubbed clean, as shiny and new as your car when you pull it out from the car wash.
It's funny how there are so many other body parts that we fixate on in our culture. Everybody wants those great legs, that flat stomach, those high cheekbones. It's always, check out her boobs, check out his ass! Nice high heels, baby... But we're missing it! We're missing the most important one!
The online Bikram yogis crack me up. Someone will post a picture of themselves arched backwards in a killer floor bow, and there will immediately be a dozen comments saying, "Wow, great spine!" and "OMG your spine is soooooo sexy." I love us. We are the only people I know who do this.
I knew I was in deep when one day, before class, I was checking out a boy who was warming up a few mats down from me. Gorgeous boy, blonde California kid, super toned body. He was practicing rabbit pose. The only thought that came into my head - and I am not making this up, I swear to you - was, "whoooooaaa.... that is a NICE spine!!"
I wish that Cosmo and GQ would get on board with this idea, because if our society collectively started fixating on the health of our spines instead of the size of our asses, I suspect we would live in a much different world...