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An exercise of will

I haven't taken yoga for a long time, and I expected my first foray this afternoon to be difficult-to-impossible, especially since the class was at a posh downtown studio where Real Yoga People go.

It was, indeed, difficult-to-impossible. I'd have loved to be all ace and awesome at it, but life on a bike and in a few Zumba classes a week does not a yogini make, and wrist and knee discomfort soon slid over the line into pain.

Out of respect for my own (hopefully temporary) limitations, I bowed myself quietly out after a few minutes, and watched from the back of the room, joining in at a couple of points where the movements were easier for me.

What follows might not mean much to you if you're not a dame d'un certain âge, so grain-o'-salt, younger folks. Grain-o'-salt.

The teacher called for kartari mukha, and made a reference to Richard Nixon (who famously used the two-finger peace gesture a lot). "I bet you remember that, don't you, Anne?" he said to me.

Well, yes, I do, though as a method of making me feel included this left something to be desired.

After the class, he came up to me and without preamble began explaining that he couldn't make the instruction appropriate for someone who's never taken yoga before (he didn't ask about my prior experience, which was pretty extensive at one point), because it would be unfair to the regulars who expect a good yoga workout. When I tried to explain that it was specific wrist and knee pain, and not general unfitness, that had pushed me to the bench, he said that yes, his mother has arthritis, too, and that there might be some special classes...

Now, I started being age-dismissed by men twenty years ago, and I've become increasingly invisible to all human beings in the years since then, but I think this might be my first really genuine and obvious nonsexual age-dismissal. It was kind of unsettling. Through this man's eyes I saw myself as a little old lady for the first time.*

Thank you, Assumption-Man!

I'll try a different teacher next time, one who's willing (as most fitness leaders are) to offer lower-impact alternatives throughout the instruction. The few minutes of yoga I managed to do felt absolutely wonderful, and I'm not about to let some all-mouth-no-ears, apparently-unconscious-age-bigot stop me from getting more of that.

*I'd argue for just not getting old in the first place, except that a) it beats the crap out of the alternative and b) it really is mostly awesome.

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