(Disclaimer: the names of the yoga teachers have been changed and the yoga studio remains anonymous to protect the parties from, well, not sure what. Although this is a true story, it is in no way meant to disrespect AntiGravity yoga. There are many styles of yoga and what’s good for one, isn’t always good for all. This is written in tongue in cheek fashion so read with an open mind and a sense of humor. If not, get yourself to a hammock immediately!)
Noah may have been dancing all week but the only thing dancing in my head last Friday was a vision of me plopped down on a nice comfy hammock. Yup, after a long, hard week doing nothing (see “Pass the Epsom Salt Please), I could hardly wait to get myself to an AntiGravity restorative yoga class.
Here’s how the AntiGravity website describes it: “AntiGravity Yoga: Restorative is the gentle, healing side of AntiGravity Yoga. This powerful method focuses the mind…as it floats the body through a series of gentle gyro kinetic motions, deeply opening the entire spine, hips, and connective tissues of the body… This therapeutic method offers accessibility to students with physical limitations, but is loved by all as a portal into deeper spinal flexibility, and mind/body connection.” Ok, I admit it: I didn’t read this until AFTER I took the class, but I do know that restorative yoga is the relaxing form of yoga, the yoga of “non-doing.” I mean, although I had never done AntiGravity before, it was restorative so how hard could it be?
This is what I had in mind
I walked the five blocks to the yoga studio and eagerly showed up for the class. I asked the woman at the front desk, “This is relaxing, right? It’s fine for someone who hasn’t done this before, right?” While I asked these questions, I thought of my husband Joel on our last vacation. He immediately staked out the hammock and there he stayed, for hours on end. Now, this is what I was looking forward to! The front desk yogini smiled, pointed in the direction of the studio door, and said, “You’ll love it.” Ok, that was the only confirmation I needed. I walked into the studio and stared at these parachute-esque bright orange hammocks hanging on large hooks from the ceiling. I was the first one there (talk about eager to relax!) and was told by the assistant teacher to select a hammock. So I did. Right near the window. Then, she came over to me (let’s call her Jane) and said, “Have you done this before?” I said no and then she asked me to move right in front of the teacher as this way the teacher could more effectively help me. So I did. As Jane was adjusting my hammock and releasing it from the large ominous-looking metal hook, she looked at my engagement and wedding rings and asked me to remove them. “Remove them? Why?” I asked. “They will snag the hammock so you’ll have to take them off and put them on the floor in the corner,” she said matter-of-factly.
It took everything I had not to blurt out, “Are you kidding me? You might as well be asking me to stack a wad of hundred dollar bills in the corner. Do you really think I can close my eyes and practice yoga while thinking about my wad of hundreds laying on a floor in the middle of New York City!” But I didn’t say this. Instead I politely said, “I would rather prefer to keep my rings on. I’m not comfortable taking them off. I can turn them around, plus they don’t have any prongs that will snag the hammock.” She looked at me arrogantly and bluntly said, “Well then, you will need to go ask the person at the front desk for a Band Aide to put over your rings.”
At first I could not believe she was serious. But she was. In disbelief, I walked out and got a bandage and literally bandaged up my rings. My serene evening was off to a great start. Completely agitated and stressed out, I walked back into my so-called relaxing yoga class. By this time, the hammocks had started to fill up and class was about to begin. The teacher, let’s call her Donna, was smack in front of me and I had a feeling she didn’t like me very much (I’m thinking Jane told her I was difficult while I was out bandaging up my rings). She asked if I was a beginner. I told her I practice yoga regularly but have never done hammock yoga before. “What a great way to start. This class will be wonderful for you,” said Donna, enthusiastically. Ok, that’s two confirmations. Let’s go. The ring thing is now in the past.
The one by the window was calling my name
First up: we wrap ourselves up into little alien pods and stay there for a while. I don’t know, maybe it was only a couple of minutes but it felt like forever. It was pretty claustrophobic in here and certainly not relaxing. As we emerged from these pods, Donna explained how to go upside-down but I think I was the only one who needed explanation as everyone was already hanging out there. I clumsily made it into this inverted position by looking at the position of my next-door alien’s feet, but apparently I was doing something wrong as Donna asked me to come up from upside-down. So I did. And there I sat right side up, swinging on my hammock while everyone else was still upside-down. I thought Donna or Jane would come over to me and explain how to get back into that crazy-looking position. I mean, it didn’t look relaxing but it sure looked like fun. But I just sat and sat some more, wondering why they were not helping me out (I mean I was two feet in front of Donna. I did give up my prime window seat for a little bit of help, or so I was told.). Frustrated, I jumped out of the hammock, left the room and went to the ladies’ room just to kill some time. I re-entered the land of so-called relaxation just in the nick of time for the next pose. Donna came over to me, a little too late, to ask if I was ok and I honestly responded that I left out of boredom and because I had no clue what I was supposed to be doing next. Donna apologized for not explaining that apparently my hammock was positioned wrong. She said she thought I might prefer to come out of the pose. Hmmm, not sure where she got that idea but, whatever.
I considered bolting but I knew I should stick it out. We did a few other forward folding and back-bending positions in the hammock which I would call awkward instead of calming. All I could think about now was, “Do we at least get a savasana (final relaxation pose)?” This class was stressing me out, big time. Finally, it was time for savasana. In the hammock. Except that we were huddled in fetal positions while Donna talked about visualizing being born and how it felt to be alive on your first day on earth. Now, I’m sorry but do any of YOU remember your first day on earth? And is this what you would want to be thinking about while trying to relax? All I wanted was a little time to think about nothing and de-clutter my mind. But no such luck.
Finally it was over. Hallelujah! I practically jumped out of my hammock, collected my stuff and high-tailed it outta there. Back to my apartment to de-compress. I laughed to myself the whole walk home. It may not have offered the relaxation I was looking for but it sure proved to be comic relief.