By Christina | May 30, 2009
There is arguably not a bigger advocate for yoga than me. I have always said that the perfect exercise routine must include cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, balance, and flexibility. A good hot power yoga class fits that bill for me, in this regard. Actually, there is a place in my world for most types of yoga, even gentle yoga. I took a yoga class the other day, though, that caught me completely off guard and consequently had the opposite effect of the “zen ass-kicker” workout that I usually crave.
In the middle of hot, sweaty yoga the instructor out of nowhere announced we would be breaking up into couples for the remainder of our yoga practice that day. Now mind you this was not Valentine’s Day, Bring Your Lover To Yoga Day, or Matchmaker.com Hot Yoga. This was me sweating like a pig in a room full of strangers who were also sweating like pigs. I first felt like I was in the middle of a bad PE class from grade school where I was scared that no one would pick me to be their partner. Then that feeling was immediately replaced with ‘which person in the room is the least disgustingly sweaty and the least physically unappealing.’ I should have run for the hills like Dorothy at this stage, but I convinced myself that there had to be some wisdom and physical gain behind partner yoga or the instructor wouldn’t have insisted that we partake in it.
The thought behind couples yoga is that by using the body resistance of somebody else, all of your stretches can be deeper and more intense. It is supposed to be an excellent way to enhance flexibility and add resistance to your poses. This may all be well and true, but the kama sutra has more in common with couples yoga than the merely stretching with partners that it purports to be.
The bottom line is that couples yoga, at least in the way that I experienced it, is a more intimate act meant for real couple in the privacy of their own homes. My partnering with a sweat-drenched hairy stranger in a yoga studio wasn’t quite what I had in mind.
I have space issues in the best of times with people I love and procreate with. You can only imagine me being in ‘child’s pose’, when all of a sudden a stranger who I’m sure is a lovely man, but admittedly in this situation I found to be slightly repulsive, draped his entire sweaty body on top of mine in order to add resistance to my stretch. The list of thoughts I experienced in that moment are too many to detail. Put it this way, I wanted to cry like a child while in child’s pose to “Get the hell off of me immediately.” Because this was yoga, a contemplative zen type environment, I refrained from being insulting and offensive. However, when sweat was trickling down my neck and it didn’t belong to me, it took every fabric of my being to think about stretching deeper into my stretch!
In this time of swine flu when people are afraid of public places, let alone swapping bodily fluids with strangers, I think couples yoga should be left to the bedrooms instead of the yoga studios. The practice of yoga connects the mind and the body. The only thing couples yoga did for me was make me mind that someone else’s sweaty, smelly body was on me.