Last week I was away for a full seven days, most of it in downtown Los Angeles. The trip, alas, threatened to wreak havoc with my yoga practice.
I have been doing a ton of yoga for the past couple of years. When I'm home, I go to class three, four, occasionally five times a week. For Women of a Certain Demographic, yoga is the prescribed way to navigate one’s way through a host of life stresses and transitions. It’s a great alternative to meditation for those of us who are congenitally unable to sit still. Plus, my back hurts way less than it used to. And I'm stretching parts of my person that I didn't even know were capable of bending.
But yoga is not about getting into shape! Or relieving pain! Or any of that crap! Yoga is About the Journey. It is Not About the Destination.
Thing is, it is way easier to keep your attention on the Journey when you are surrounded by other yogis of a similar demographic. This is my absolute favorite pose -- I could do it all day:
This, too, is a favorite:
I have achieved a rough approximation of this next pose once or twice, for about one and a half seconds (not long enough for anyone to take a picture of ME doing it); and while my Yoga Practice is TOTALLY About the Journey, it really is, I am quite proud of myself for my temporary layover in this particular Destination:
However, for Yogis of a Certain Demographic, the following will never be a good idea:
And if everyone around me is doing this:
I can be pretty sure that they are on a Journey for which I, personally, will never hold a ticket.
But how to find the right yoga studio in Downtown LA? While Downtown was dominated by Skid Row when I lived there in the early 90's, it's a hip and happening place now, full of high-ceiinged lofts occupied by the young, ambitious and svelte. Of course, yoga these days is a popular enterprise from coast to coast, and a quick web search revealed no shortage of studios in Downtown LA. Here's the site that came up first on the search. What do you think of this studio description?
If you have ANY opinion about this -- if you can read it at all -- then you are NOT a Yogi of a Certain Demographic. I crossed that one off the list simply because I couldn't read the address with my middle-aged eyeballs.
This next studio was very convenient to my hotel, just a short walk down the street:
As it turns out, YAS stands for “Yoga And Spinning.” It is a "Revolutionary Concept." The one yoga class on the schedule is Yoga for Athletes, promising to “help all athletes excel.”
But I, alas, am not an athlete, athleticism being far too Desitination-based for a klutz of a certain demographic like myself. And this woman --I think she's the founder of YAS-- does not look like her Journey is making her particularly serene:
I do not think she is focusing on her breath. I think she is focusing on how long she can let her hair grow without re-frosting the tips.
No worries at YAS, however, if I haven't brought my yoga mat from home! I can buy this one right at the studio:
Hmm. The starting point for this particular Journey may be convenient; but it's not at all clear that I will make it out alive.
I finally found my way to Yoga Circle Downtown, for a 9:00 pm Thursday evening class:
Yoga Circle Downtown is a beautiful, high-ceilinged studio in a funky old office building converted to lofts for the young, hip and ambitious. But these yogis are absolutely All About the Journey! Let me just say that they are likely to be on their individual Journeys for 20 or 25 years after mine has ended.
I mostly kept up pretty well, although at one point, near the end of class, when I couldn't quite follow the instructions about a twist, the teacher came over and asked, in the respectful voice one uses with the aged and infirm, "are you working an alternative asana, here?" before she gently untangled me.
From what I overheard in the preliminary chatter, many of my fellow yogis had plans to head off after class and whip up for themselves the nightcap of the moment, which involves a blend of Heineken and Boba tea.
The Yogis of a Certain Demographic -- that would be, um, me -- headed back to our hotel rooms for a cup of peppermint tea and some dark chocolate.