Thursday, May 28, 2009


Today a group of us took yoga.

This is something that I've been saying I would do on this tour for well, the whole darned time.

And finally, over a year into it, I did.

*hold for applause*

I actually really enjoy it. And not because it makes me feel awesome, either. At least not while it lasts. With the exception of the corpse position (which is not nearly as morbid as it sounds; it's basically a dead man's float without the getting all wet and wondering if you are going to drown part), it hurts me.

But I really enjoy it for the challenge.

See, something that a lot of people don't know about me is that I am not naturally flexible. Just because I can split every which way, touch my foot to the back of my head, and kick my face does not mean that I didn't work for every inch of it.

I did.

I remember sitting with the soles of my feet pressed together with weights on my knees, forcing my hips to rotate; I would also stand against the wall and tell my pop to push my leg behind my head as far is it would go and just hold it there, trying to ignore the apologetic and horrified face he was giving me over the pain I was in.

While laying in bed, I would take one foot, hook it under the footboard and hook my other foot under the headboard.

And then attempt to sleep like that.

Um, let's just say that counting sheep didn't really aid in the sleep process that night. Pretty much the only thing that did was unhooking my feet and getting out of that inverted split position.

But I worked and worked on being flexible. Ever since a ballet teacher told my class that flexibility was just a matter of deciding how much pain one can take, I made a decision that the exchange of pain for flexibility and therefore the ability to dance well was a deal.

A steal, actually.

Oh, and it didn't help that I come from quite possibly the least flexible family known to the human race. Really. I am not at all positive that all of us were even born with hamstrings. My brothers cannot even sit up straight with their legs in front of them and straighten their knees. I try to make them do it and they cry out like they are being eaten by wild dogs.


Anyway, yoga introduces a whole new challenge to me in terms of flexibility. See, I have stretched in certain ways as a dancer and have by now gotten the hang of it.

But yoga is a whole different animal.

The downward facing dog is purportedly the "resting position" but leaves you feeling as rested as Atlas must feel at the end of every day, holding up the earth like that.

It really hurts.

And everything in yoga returns to it. It's your haven, your place of rest. It's like base in tag. Only base never made my shoulders ache, my hamstrings scream, and all the while wonder why the heck my right achilles is so much shorter than my left.

No really, why is that?

Yeah, I don't know either.

But as crazy as this sounds, I really like yoga. I like how hard it is and the feeling of accomplishment I carry with me afterward. I like how it's so good for my body--basically no impact on my joints and perfectly complementary to dancing since it both stretches and strengthens you.

But I would suggest one thing.

Make sure you eat something--anything--that actually keeps you from feeling like your stomach is going to eat a lung if you don't throw something down the hatch in the next twenty minutes. Because a nutri-grain bar just doesn't cut it.

And maybe if you eat something substantial, then when you are told to do some meditative work and focus your thoughts, you might actually be able to mentally envision something other than a cheeseburger. Or pancakes. Or one of those delicious breakfast sandwiches from Starbucks that your friends ate before the class and that you are now deeply regretting the decision you made to pass.

So other than the temporary bout of extreme hunger and the pesky and habitual downward facing dog, I really like yoga.

And I'd like to be good at it some day.


The Husband said...

I suggest eating a couple of tacos, then drinking a glass of milk, followed by a glass of orange juice.

Nothing helps focusing your thoughts in meditation like desperately trying not to fart in yoga class.

kelley said...

yeah, i actually try NOT to eat much before class. but i don't have jess latshaw-style metabolism either. ;)

sherri said...


I honestly don't hink I could do it.

Cool beans that you have worked this hard and mastered it!

Karenkool said...

I remember working really hard on flexibiliy in high school gymnastics. Our coach has us work and work and work. I am not flexible, but I know that I have been and could be again if I wanted the pain of it. Nah! hahaha

Never have done yoga. Your description both cause me to want to run away fast and yet... intrigues me. I wonder if I will ever take a class.

You've definitely left me thinking about it.

Emily said...

I bet you are actually good at it, and no one watching you would know the pain you put yourself through. I am amazed by that - my pain threshold is really low. But , once upon a time I was flexible... I wish I had taken advantage!

peaj said...

As someone who has no hamstrings, I fell your brothers' pain.

Someday, I bet, you'll teach yoga classes, mere competence never being enough for you. ;-)

Jessica Latshaw said...


Kelley--my metabolism can be quite irritating and keeps me from sleeping because sometimes all I can think about is food!

Sherri--I'd bet a lot of money that you could do it!

Kool--take a class, I bet you'd like it! It's so good for you; in fact, I think Drew and I are going to take a class together at some point. YOu know, when we are actually in the same state;-)

Emily--I guess I am not terrible, but I'd like the class to not hurt quite so much. And I'd bet you could get your flexibility back pretty easily, since you already had it once!

Peaj--I feel for you, not having hammies and all. BUT, you can totally develop them--especially with your running! Don't you have to stretch them before and after? Oh, and I'd love to teach it sometime!

peaj said...

I do stretch, but it is pitiful how tough it is for me to stretch the hamstrings. I must be doing something right, though, because I am hardly sore at all these days.

Anna K said...

Please please let me know next time you're going and I'll join you!
I am so impressed with what you can do with your body; I agree with Emily that you're probably a lot better than you think you are.

Jess said...

Anna--I will for sure let you know; it'd be especially helpful to me to have you in the class since that'd be one more person I can follow:)

Anna K said...

Now that is flattering...I have a feeling we'd be at about the same level. But I do like having people to go to class with. It makes me more likely to get up and actually go!

kathiek said...

I can touch the floor with my knees while the soles of my feet are pressed together (I have always been able to do that, even without working on it), and last year, when I was working with Brian, I got to the point where I could lean over my legs and touch my face to the ground. I can't quite do that now, but I can still get very close. But do you know what? I am a total couch potato and have no strength in my core, no flexibility in my back and neck, and I am completely undisciplined, so what does it matter that my legs are freakishly flexible? You get out there and work your body, Jess, and train it and make it serve you, and it shows...that is amazing! I have never been consistently motivated to work/exercise my body, and it shows...not just in my weight, but in all the issues with my back and neck, too.