When anyone asks my religion (a rare occasion, I admit), I always answer “Yoga.” It’s a joke, but not really. Yoga is the closest I can get to dealing with issues of mortality and suffering, and my “faith” has survived some pretty grueling road tests. Yesterday, however, since it seemed to mean a lot to the ‘rents to have me go with them to church, I gave Unitarianism another try. But sitting still on a hard bench for an hour and a half, listening to unnatural rhetoric enunciated in affected cadences, made me long for the mat.
So in the afternoon I attended a fairly pedestrian gym-club “fusion” class, with none of the liturgical trappings that yoga classes often feature, and even in that bare-bones forum, I found what had eluded me on Cathedral Hill: patience, fortitude, attention to the moment and a renewal of good intentions. And that was without inversions!
But then, I’ve maxed out on inversions this week: this week I’ve attended three “antigravity” yoga classes, which use nylon hammocks hung from the ceiling as props to enable you to get deeper into poses. You insert various body parts into the sling of the hammock, which steadies you and perfects your alignment. For inversions, you gather the fabric into a thick rope and monkey-wrap your legs around it and suspend the rest of your body in inverted free fall. It’s like traction, only better. Your blood and all your other fluids flow to your head and rinse it out. It’s a little dizzying—like going through the spin cycle of a washing machine—and the pressure on your legs and sacrum can make you feel as if they’ve been put through a ringer, but it’s thrilling, and cleansing.
I didn’t get that from church.