The last time you heard about my friend Chris was when she invited me to her Zumba class. I didn’t know exactly — or at all — what Zumba was, but it sounded peppy. Many words with a “Z” in them are peppy … zippy, zydeco, Zamboni. Zamboni counts only if really smooth ice thrills you. Many words ending in “ba” are also peppy: samba, rumba, Michelle Obamba. So any word containing both a “Z” and a “ba” promised to be way up there on the entertainment scale.
According to Wikipedia, Zumba is an exercise fitness program created by a Columbian dancer, a demographic not known for subtlety. It involves dance and aerobic movements performed to “energetic music.” Choreography incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba (see!?!), salsa, merengue, and mambo (close enough). Squats and lunges are also included.
I am not what you would call graceful. Or coordinated. Or an even passable dancer. During the few aerobics classes I have ever taken I planted myself way in the back and spent an inordinate amount of time saying “Huh?” whenever I could gather enough breath to say anything at all. A combination dance/aerobics class seemed like the perfect opportunity to humiliate myself in a room in which all four walls were covered with mirrors therefore multiplying my klutziness into infinity.
So when Chris suggested I go to yoga with her, I was just ecstatic. Mostly because she didn’t want me to go back to Zumba.
At the appointed hour I presented myself to the yoga instructor. She was kind, welcoming, and did very well at not looking aghast at my attire … black tights I wear in the hangar and my very best Cozumel, Mexico t-shirt. Soon the other yoga-ers arrived. They had all been shopping at Yoga-R-Us. Their clothes were comfortable looking and functional and did not, as mine did, have a giant lizard on the back. Before the class began one of the women asked a great question about Warrior 3 transitioning to a Crescent Lunge or something equally esoteric. I assume it was a great question. I didn’t understand anything except the word “transition” and I’m a little sketchy on that one. My first thought after hearing the exchange was not, “Oh yes … transitioning.” It was, “Uh-oh.”
Everyone got their supplies. Who knew you needed supplies to yoga? I got a mat, two large cork blocks, a sand bag, two bolster pillows, and a blanket. I have to tell you, I got pretty hopeful when I saw the pillows and blanket. Kindergarten was invented sometime after my youth so I never had a school-endorsed nap. I thought maybe this was my big chance. The instructor led us through a series of stretching. This was not as peaceful as it could have been because my right shoulder cracked so loudly it sounded like a rifle shot. Rifle shots are not conducive to the yoga mind set. The initial stretches culminated in my rolling a ball with, as we say in yoga-talk, my rear end. This was more difficult than anticipated. The ball is small and my rear end is not, leading to the fear the dang thing would disappear. The ball, not my rear end.
Then we were asked to do a pigeon thing. This consisted of tucking one leg in a fashion legs were never designed to be tucked. I had visions of knee parts springing loose and catapulting across the room, fatally injuring those with correctly tucked knees. Luckily, the instructor had alternative moves for everything. This allowed me to keep my joints intact and spare the lives of the limber.
Next was a move of about 10 steps in which we raised, rotated, planted, raised again, bent forward, bent back, stretched, and finally, in my case, fell over.
I got really excited when we were told to grab our bolster pillow. Nap time? No, we sat on the pillow. We did get to put our heads down but it was just to stretch out some more muscles which, frankly were beginning to protest. In her soothing, soft voice the instructor told us to Savasana. Everyone rolled onto their backs and closed their eyes. This I could do. I think I invented it.
It was all very peaceful and serene and profoundly sweat-provoking. I loved it. I’m going back, although I still don’t know what “namaste” means. And I’m getting a bigger ball.