I think it’s mostly because of all the privileged white people saying “namaste” in badly accented Hindi, to be honest.
Don’t get me wrong, I like exercise. I really like running. I like weird classes were you jump up and down on bouncy ball shaped things and an instructor yells at you (is there a name for this? Also, did I make this up?) I even like exercise that’s designed to increase your flexibility. I love pilates. I just don’t want to confuse “exercise time” with “relaxation time.” Which yoga instructors seem to do, given that they always seem to be smiling and whispering “relax” to the class.
Relax? No. No, because this is not relaxation time. Are you curious about why that’s the case?
Here are some things I do to relax:
Put together puzzles
Play angry birds
Bake pies that don’t involve any kind of chopping (chopping pies can equal stressful “Am I going to fuck up and cut my finger?” thoughts) (Yes! You are!)
Look up pictures of hairless cats online and contemplate whether or not I should get a cat (probably not? Everyone in my life says “no” but that little gremlin’s face says “let’s go have some adventures together.”)
Watch basically whatever movie is on AMC
Here are some things I do not do to relax:
Hang around upside down balancing on my hands with one leg pushed so far up in the air it hurts, seriously fucking hurts.
Pretending that exercise is anything other than “a somewhat painful ordeal we go through to look and feel better” strikes me as being suspiciously like “lying.”
Given a choice, I would much rather deal with an irate instructor screaming at me that I’m “a pathetic weakling” than someone saying in some sort of pseudo-hippie voice “be at peace and fully yourself.” I know I’m a pathetic weakling! I mean, the “pathetic” part seems unnecessary and sort of mean, but weakling? Sure! Yes, I am weak-ish! That is why I am here. You are no liar, irrationally angry bouncy ball lady!
If I wanted to be fully myself I suppose I could meditate or sit and… tear apart blades of grass? What do people do when they are being “real?”
I’ll give you a clue: they don’t mutter “be the change you want to see in the world” while people are pulling their hamstrings out of whack. Because the change I want to see in the world is not everyone dropping $20 bucks on a yoga class and overpriced Lululemon gear so they can sweat 10 pounds off in an overheated room that smells like feet. That might be the opposite of the change I wish to see in the world. I think that’s roughly categorised as “nightmare world.”
But mostly I hate all the soothing, meditative stuff because it makes me feel like I must be doing something wrong. Because, for me, most of yoga hurts. About half an hour into a class, after the instructor asks me things like “doesn’t it feel good?” when I’m pushed deeper into a pose (no) I will genuinely believe that it’s weird that I don’t find lying on my elbow with one leg stretched up relaxing. “My body must be made of bad… body stuff?” I’ll think to myself.
Then I’ll look up and realize that the instructor is not in some weird bendy pretzel position. She is able to calmly intone “relax” to the class and ask them to “feel their breathing” because all she is doing is walking around the room laying the flat of her hand on people’s backs. Yeah. That IS relaxing. If there was a recreational “walk around touching people’s backs class” I would… probably not sign up for it. It sounds sort of invasive and uncomfortable. But I would find it more physically, if not mentally, relaxing than yoga.
Because yoga is the worst. Just completely made out of lies about how you are changing the world by raising your leg up like a urinating dog. You aren’t. You might be losing ten pounds, but you are not changing the world, anymore than you are when you are doing any recreational activity.
Though, you know, if I could find a class without all the lies? I think I might actually enjoy it.