Tuesday, May 13, 2008

missing the point

There's a yoga studio in the shopping center behind where I live. They seem to be well-established; they've been there a while and the center seems nicely up-kept. I don't do yoga myself, but if I did I'd probably go there.

The other day me and my Sparring Partner went by the hardware store and as we left, noticed the yoga place had a big banner out front.

"YOGA BOOT CAMP!!" it said.

We looked at each other and shook our heads. "Only in America," he said.


We're down to five or six students in kung fu again. The SP said to Sit, "See what happens when you start teaching the tai hui stance?" He was kidding.... sort of. People do tend to poop out when they get put in that stance. It hurts. It's intimidating. It's kind of unnatural. And suddenly you realize what a big expectation is being put on you--Oh shit! This isn't easy anymore! I may actually have to practice!

Last Saturday there were only four student, but two of the regulars were missing and I figure they'll be back. Yoga-boy is still hanging around. He's been coming for about 18 months now, is now attending both classes (kung fu and tai chi), and while he's having some trouble with body control (relaxation, like everybody), he's making an effort and tends to be prepared for class. He certainly tries hard and keeps his mouth shut, so I think he'll be around a while.

The soccer mom who was coming for a while has vanished. She was around long enough for me to get used to her, but for some reason most women don't last past the first form. I think a lot of it has to do with other demands on one's time, but I know she was feeling insecure. She asked if the SP and I would watch her form and critique it, but we gently demurred, explaining that it was better to just practice the basics and get feedback from Sit at this point. I hope she wasn't insulted, because she dropped out not long after that.

However, she was a self-admitted Type A results-based personality, and I think that was her downfall. I think that's the downfall of most of our dropouts. I think they get focused on a goal--whether it's fabulous flexibility or instant health or the ability to kill a mugger with a single well-placed pinky finger--and they give up when they see how much work is involved. They forget that the work is its own reward.

Sure, I get down on myself sometimes because I should be more skilled than I am, and because I don't practice enough, but I can't deny that there have been benefits from my slow, persistent progress. I'm more fit than average. I'm strong and flexible. My mind is generally at peace with itself. I do have some self-defense skills, even if the best part of those is merely knowing my limitations. And I don't see myself stopping any time soon. I am fairly sure that I'll continue to progress, even if I don't know yet what form that progress will take.

But yoga boot camp? C'mon. That's just setting yourself up for failure.


Lisa said...

I've been practicing Yoga for eight years and sometimes re-learning how to breath can feel as difficult as boot camp must be. It's probably just a marketing gag to pull in people who want a good workout, and hope that some of them find out it's much more than that.

Yoga, just like you've described with your own Kung Fu/Tai Chi practice, is an ongoing decision, it's not a one-time results-based thing. At times it's a moment-to-moment position in the middle of a pose, to just stay there for a minute longer is a conscious decision.

But that's what I like about it. For a competitive person like me, it's the one area of my life where I'm not competing, so it's a break.

Holly said...

>Yoga is an ongoing decision, it's not a one-time results-based thing.

Bingo, Lisa, I knew you'd get it.

And I hope you're right about it pulling in new students; however Sit has done twice-yearly community college classes since I've known him, and I have yet to see any of them return for more than a second class.

You know, there are times when I'd like to do a retreat from the world and just study tai chi for a week. That's part of the reasons I enjoy competition, because there are seminars and workshops and networking surrounding the big tournaments. I'm going to house-sit for my teacher in a couple of weeks and I'm thinking ahead to the time as a sort of tai chi retreat. There won't be normal household distractions for me, while I'm in someone else's house.

Holly said...

...so maybe this "boot camp" will be more helpful for the ongoing students than for the newbies.

But I still object to the juxtaposition of those two concepts. :-P

Lisa said...

It is contrary to what Yoga is all about, just like the phrase "Power Yoga" is.

AJ Milne said...

(Cackles at 'yoga boot camp')

Somewhere in the world there's a course on learning the value of unstructured time... Available in two thirty minute sessions. On-site sessions can be arranged for busy professionals. Call our toll-free line for class timetables...

And, sadly enough, it might even help them. A little, anyway.