Alison Berkley: Ah, nothing like soothing yoga |

Alison Berkley: Ah, nothing like soothing yoga

OM, excuse me, I think my neck is broken.

Or at least it feels like it after I attempted my first yoga class. Yoga is very hip these days. Everyone talks about how great it is, from my massage therapist to the sales girl at Pitkin County Dry Goods to my roommate’s goofy friend. Everybody just loooooves yoga.

I decide I will try it and become hipper and prettier and taller and skinnier. I will stretch my bones and elongate my spine, like the young girl who hangs from a pull-up bar to try to make herself taller or does push ups chanting, “I must, I must, I must increase my bust.” With a little effort, I might hit 5 feet 2 inches.

I will wear hip yoga clothes, tight sweatpants with bell bottoms and halter tank tops that come midway up your back. I will cleanse my kidneys and all those other internal organs so that all that drinking I did this winter would be OK. I will connect with my world through my breath and hope that it doesn’t smell bad. I will get in touch with my spiritual

side. I will come out of the class feeling as relaxed as if I’d just swallowed 50 milligrams of Xanax without a prescription.

So I go to the class that everyone told me to go to, even though no one mentioned it was an expert-only contortionist’s club where the skinny people go instead of eating lunch.

I quickly learn that our teacher can tie his lithe body into a little pretzel while standing on his hands. He does this simply and effortlessly, without shaking even.

The other skinny, long-legged women in the class can do it, too, which convinces me that I am absolutely too thick and too short to be able to twist my limbs around like that. I learn in that hour and a half that I am, in essence, a beach ball with arms and legs. I am a weeble-wobble that can fall down. I am a penguin trying to be a gazelle. I am in a class that is way too advanced and it’s way too late for me to do anything about it.

Xanax would not be strong enough to numb the pain I feel from head to toe after an hour and a half of “cat in heat” and “upwardly mobile dog” and “cross-eyed bunny” and all these other ridiculous positions that would’ve been fun had I been playing Twister with some hot guy and doing shots of tequila at the same time.

Thank god I don’t know anyone there. For starters, I wear the wrong outfit. My tank top has this way of sliding up over my beer belly every time I lean over to contort my body into “bull without legs” or whatever that pose is called.

My pants, normally quite baggy, synch up so tight and high around my waist during “armless dragon slayer” that I’m sure they’re going to rip open any minute from the sheer power and torque of this wedgie. I constantly pull and tug at my top and pants, even though the teacher keeps telling us not to look in the mirror except to correct our posture, not to compare ourselves to the person next to us.

Yeah, right! Like I’m not going to notice that the Yogaista to my right has legs that come up to my waist and is probably married to some gazallionaire so she has time to practice yoga all day long? Whatever! Doesn’t he know what happens when you throw a bunch of women into a room full of mirrors?

“Pay attention to your breath” the teacher coos, instructing us when to exhale and inhale. I normally don’t think of breathing as a complicated process, that is, until he points it out to me. Breathe in, breathe out. Inhale, exhale. Wait. No. Exhale, inhale? Find your breath. Where’d it go? Slow it down. It’s speeding up! I’m upside down and I can feel my face filling with blood, I’m definitely going to have a heart attack and die right here in this swanky yoga studio. I can feel pins and needles in my brain. It’s like the opening to a “Six Feet Under” episode. Fade to white. “ALISON BERKLEY 1970-2003.”

Luckily, the teacher comes over to “correct my posture” and distracts me from ensuing panic. He ever-so-delicately pushes down and pulls up and straightens this and turns that and I can almost hear my ligaments snapping one by one like old guitar strings.

The fun part comes when we get to lie on our backs with “one hand on our heart and the other on our 47th shakra” to take a little nap. This is great until the teacher comes around to “correct my posture” again because my hands slide off my round belly and to my sides and I’m pretty sure I drooled, which is not out of the ordinary for me after I fall asleep.

We conclude the session with a little meditation, which is cool except my ADD kicks in the worst whenever I try to focus, so it’s a bit squirmy for me. Then comes the big inhale where everyone’s nostrils hiss like snakes, and the big exhale, accentuated by everyone singing “OMMMMMMM” at the top of their lungs.

The room vibrates with the sound of everyone’s OM that goes on and on and on, like the kid who can swim like three laps underwater without coming up for air. I last for like five seconds, my voice straining into a pathetic wheeze. It goes on for so long that it becomes funny to me and I have to do everything under my power to keep from laughing out loud, which is almost as uncomfortable as the yoga postures were in the first place.

Stretch, smetch. I liked Yogi better as a bear.

[The Princess understands that yoga takes many years of practice, discipline, and very long limbs. Yogites who can’t take a joke can e-mail their complaints to]

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