yoga versus crosstraining

by haywardhelen

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I’ve been to the same yoga studio, with it’s one yellow wall and wildly disproportionate female to male ratio, since coming to Hobart five years ago. I know the Indian terms for most of the poses, I’ve heard them so many times, though I wouldn’t be able to spell them.

I go to yoga because it gets to bits of me that other things don’t reach. During school holidays, when I can’t get to class, I know it not from the tightness in my lower back but from my impatience at home. Going to yoga twice a week after school drop off isn’t a great use of my time. I should be doing proper work at this time, I tell myself, not spending precious brain time doing downward-facing dog. But the benefits are real, as much for my peace of mind as for my range of movement, and so I keep going.

A year ago a cross-training business moved into the studio across the corridor from the yoga studio, where a carpet warehouse used to be. The music started blaring immediately, a heavy thump-thump that made a joke of the dividing wall between our studio and theirs. At first the yoga teacher made light of it. Rather than being distracted by our monkey minds, we were being tested by heavy metal workouts across the way.

I did my best to stem my righteous annoyance, the opposite of the calm I was supposed to be cultivating. Then one morning after class, unable to contain myself, I went into the cross-training studio to complain about the music. I could see the frowns on their faces even as I opened the door. After a couple of civil minutes, they agreed to adjust the volume down, and I left the studio feeling mixed.

For a few weeks things were better. Hooray, I thought to myself, pushing into a pigeon pose and holding it for a few minutes. Just at that moment a woman’s shrill voice, not unlike a drill sargeant, barked orders against loud pop music. Again I held off for a couple of lessons before asking the cross-trainers to turn the volume down. Again the two owners frowned as I entered the studio and frostily agreed to ask their new teacher to tone it down a little. Again I felt mixed – vindicated yet wrong – on leaving their studio.

Months passed. We were like the Muslims and the Christians, I told myself. No amoung of negotiation could heal the divide between us, the cross-trainers and the yoga people. And yet we arrived at the same time for morning class, we left our shoes in the same corridor, and we all left our classes ready to tackle the day.

Luckily for us, the yoga people, cross-training sessions are over quicker than yoga. When we finally lie down on our mats for bridge pose and a final meditation, the cross-trainers are putting their shoes on sweaty feet and leaving. Quite possibly were it not for this difference – I find meditation challenging enough – I’d have found another yoga studio months ago.

A few weeks ago I was walking down the lane outside the yoga studio after a Friday class, wondering what my day would bring and feeling completely relaxed. At that moment one of the owners of the cross-training studio walked up the lane, barely visible beneath two jumbo packs of toilet paper. ‘I’ve read your book,’ she said. ‘I really enjoyed it. You covered lots of interesting people’. ‘Thank you’, I said. ‘You’re a great writer’, she added. ‘That’s very kind’, I replied, knowing how far from Balzac and Tolstoy I’d always be, even while I knew that her use of the word great wasn’t at all the way I’d heard it. Perhaps, I thought to myself as I came out of the lane, yoga people and cross-trainers aren’t so different after all.