Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I (Eye?) Yoga

Rather than spend all of our time just "seeing" things while here in India (and eating...), we thought we'd try to get into actually "doing" things as well.

This may be a decision we will regret for a while. We're not sure yet.

I attended a yoga class around the corner this morning. I'm not a yoga expert by any means, but back home I was attending Ashtanga yoga classes twice weekly and really enjoyed the physical challenge; more importantly, I loved the way I felt after I was done. When I found an opportunity to attend classes in India, I couldn't forego the opportunity.

I showed up at the yoga studio near the end of a class and was allowed to participate in some of the simpler exercises, which suited me fine. The head, neck, and shoulder exercises were pretty straightforward. It got a bit strange when the instructor had us "stretch our eyes", which involved looking up and down, then side to side, and corner to corner, numerous times without blinking. She even had us cross our eyes and sit like that for some time. It got even stranger when she had us sit on all fours and then moan loudly to stretch our throats. Then, at the end of class, we sat with our legs crosses, took a deep breath, and laughed out loud for no particular reason at all. And then again.

When I had my private class, we spent most of the hour working on breathing exercises, like holding a deep breath and puffing our cheeks out, or breathing in and then flapping our stomach muscles in and out very rapidly, or plugging our ears and then saying, "mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" for a long breath. We did a few poses, so I think I'll go back tomorrow for another class -- at least it's interesting, and I did actually come away from the studio feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Our second foray into the "experience India" campaign of BG and Val involved going for an Ayurvedic massage. Really, we should have known when this was suggested to us by our good friend Deep, followed closely by a snicker. (Not a Snickers.) We had side-by-side massages with a curtain between us, but post-event discussions have determined that the same things happened to both of us:

1. Being told to strip naked while the "therapist" is present. This is quite a bit different from our normal Canadian experiences, where the therapist leaves to allow you some dignity and privacy, not to mention a topsheet.

2. Being helped "into" a muslin loincloth. Said therapist ties the loincloth around your naked waist, then grabs the cloth hanging between your naked legs and pulls it up behind and covers up (kind of) your naked butt.

3. Being told to get up on the table and lie down on your back, and then being completely drenched in warmed oil. Did I mention being naked? Also, the muslin loincloth is removed when you flip over to your front so they can have more access to your gluteus maximus.

4. Having said warmed oil being rubbed all over your skin. All. Over. Your. Skin. Again I mention the naked.

5. Being rubbed briskly with dry, rough towels to remove the oil; this is followed up with a rubdown with really hot water and more rough towels.

6. Leaving the massage parlour with very little dignity remaining.

We left the clinic feeling that India had maybe experienced as much of us as we had experienced of it today.


Charms said...

Wow, Val, that sounds like some kind of massage!

I love reading your stories. Keep them coming!

Jen Shepard said...

Yeah--I had a similar experience in Peru--the oil was so hot I thought the lady was going to burn my skin. And the nakedness..well, yeah. Same thing. Does that make me old? Or just a typical American prude... ?? :)