4364884538_4c1db42a25 I am now taking the kind of yoga class my younger self would have considered not efficient enough (sure, relaxation, but no “real” workout), a class that I would have deemed vaguely for pussies and the elderly. Clearly I am one or the other or both. It’s a gentle stretch class, in which we do, well, gentle stretches.

And you know what? I still managed to pull something incredibly painful in the arch of my foot. Probably karma for judging people for taking what I deemed in my 20s to be yoga for the weak.

I didn’t start out being a a yoga bully. Like an idealistic law student who vows to be a Legal Aid attorney but winds up a soulless corporate drone, I was in it for the right reasons. Before I had kids, I was a big yogahead. Not, like, learning Sanskrit and doing that little prayer-hands namaste bow when greeting people at the coffee shop big, but I loved it and practiced a few times a week. I was one of those people for whom yoga was truly transformative—it made me rethink my approach to the world and myself:  Yoga class was the first place I was told that it was OK to be wherever I was that day, instead of pushing my body and my standards beyond what felt comfortable for no good reason.

New Yorkers: You know how when you’re in a cab stuck in traffic and the TV starts back at the place it was when you got in the cab, with the Sandy Kenyon and his snarky movie reviews? And you’re all, “Geez, I’m hearing this again?” I had a similar loop of repetitive blather in my head, all self-criticism, all the time. Yoga was better than Prozac (which I also practiced) for turning down the volume on that.

But then, somewhere along the way, after I had the girls and so had less time and more angst, I started doing “power” yoga and going to harder and harder classes–I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to get a serious workout out of the time I put in. I started measuring my flexibility and strength against the other women around me, and trying to do stuff that was plain too hard to prove to myself that I could (probably because I wasn’t so sure I could be a parent, so I goddamn well had to be sure I could put my foot behind my head!) I started wishing the yoga teachers would shut the f*(& up with their ancient prayers and chanting and just get to the poses already. My mind raced, even in the relaxation phase at the end of class. It basically sucked.

So I stopped. Six years later, am back at it, again for the right reasons, and an appreciation of all that is therapeutic and noncompetitive about yoga. I trundle off to my deep stretch class and find it challenging in its own way. I don’t judge anyone–showing up seems like an achievement in itself now that I’m a Formerly with two kids and a job and a book to promote. It’s amazing, and I feel like I’ve found a favorite piece of jewelry that I thought was gone forever.

And then…the agony of the feet. But you know what? I’m still glad to be back. Oh, ouch! My back!

Photo by Lulumon Athletica CC