I don’t love yoga

Not Me

I love to run. My feet gently tread the roadway or the trail. My relaxed gait allows me to absorb the scenery, focus on breath, and wander my brain. Running, every time, instills a sense of peace.

I love to ride my mountain bike, primarily on the road, too many crashes in the woods last year sapped the joy from trail riding. The rolling hills surrounding Gettysburg offer the alternating thrill of grinding climbs and heedless descents. Bike rides leave me comfortably spent.

I love spin class, the pounding music, my sweat dripping, the instructor shouting out drills, the camaraderie of suffering as a group. Spin, for me, includes an element of showing off. I leave class wrapped in a wet blanket of achievement.

I don’t love yoga. Yoga hurts. I restarted last week after a thirteen-year break. Early in my tenure of working for the YWCA, I slipped out of work two mornings a week to meet Susan for a seventy-five-minute class. I got pretty good at yoga. One woman in the class even said so. “You know, you’re pretty good at yoga.” My status as the only man in the room made me comment-worthy. But yoga disrupted the workday, and my boss glared at me when I returned to my office in shorts, a t-shirt and bare feet, so I quit daytime yoga. I quit all yoga.

Now I suck at yoga. My body became brittle, inflexible, tight. I strain for every pose. As I struggle with form, Steph, the instructor, says “I’m coming ’round.” She walks between the participants. I’m sure many feel an air of validation as she walks by without comment. As she passes me, I imagine her silent tch tch tch, her imperceptible head shake, her eyes rolling in her head. “Relax your shoulders, everything in line with your body.” I’m the only one she corrects.

About those shoulders. Both are wrecked: The left one rebuilt after crashing my bike into a minivan. The right one, dislocated countless times, most recently and the worst to date just eight months ago. I can’t relax my shoulders and they never line up. I align my arms and shoulders to the edge of pain and stop there. I shoot for a rough approximation of sloppy yoga form.

Two classes in two weeks. My back hasn’t felt this flexible in months. I restarted yoga because it hurt all the time. My leg and hip muscles, always tight from running and riding, pull my sacrum out of alignment. This manifests as disabling back pain. A couple of months ago, I got out of bed in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. I couldn’t stand up. The pain in my back caused my legs to give out. After numerous tries, I gave up. I crawled to the bathroom.

As part of my job as the finance director of the county’s library system, I support the Friends of the Library fundraising group. We collect tens of thousands of donated books each year. We sort them, box them, and sell them at a massive book sale every July. Because most of the group is retirees, at sixty years old, I’m the youngest person associated with the organization. Everyone knows I run and bicycle in my spare time. I look fit. But I can’t lift a box of books without blowing out my back. During book sale set up, I’ll bypass a box of books that needs to be moved and let the seventy-one-year-old woman behind me pick it up.

No, I don’t love yoga, but I’m doing it. All forms of exercise can’t be as fun as running. Right now, I view yoga with the same resignation as when I gut down my daily iron pills. When I do that, I know I’ll feel sick, but suffering through low iron is far worse. I’ve put off correcting the tightness in my legs, back, and shoulders for too long. If I can regain my flexibility, maybe I’ll start to love yoga too.

35 thoughts on “I don’t love yoga

    • I think if I stick with it, the pain of yoga will lessen and the tightness will recede. It will be a win win for me. Plus, I’m don’t more with my gym membership that one spin class a week.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I feel your pain. I’m 61. While on vacation I ended up in the emergency room (via ambulance) because of the excruciating lower right back pain making me cry. I’m thinking pinched sciatic nerve but was diagnosed as strained lumbar. The pain was way too intense for a “strained lumbar” in my opinion. I was on pain killers, muscle relaxers and steroids the rest of my vacation, unable to do anything with wife and grandkids. 2 months later and no reoccurrence, but I’m always scared to move or pick up something that could cause that pain again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I think I’m going to recommend yoga. When I had that midnight event where I couldn’t stand up, my doctor pilled me up good. It helped quite a bit but it made me feel pretty lame. I’m glad I’m (trying) to do something about it.


    • If I don’t stick with it, please give me a very hard time. With Eli graduating high school, I’m doing some reevaluating of what’s important. Flexibility is near the top of the list.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to own a CrossFit gym… I went to a yoga class taught by a friend, and I told the teacher I was going to make a t-shirt saying “I do CrossFit because Yoga is Too Hard”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cheering for you, Jeff. I don’t currently yoga, but you are reminding me that I should keep an eye out for summer discounts. I didn’t take to it initially, but found my enthusiasm improved a little when I took hot yoga (after I adapted enough to stop passing out). The sweat made it feel “real.” (a runner thing, I think). Or maybe I just needed the heat to relax my tight muscles : ). Love that picture and caption. Had me cracking up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm, maybe a soak in the hot tub before yoga will help me. I think the sweat factor is part of why I like spin so much. The other night the spin instructor got off her bike in the middle of the class and pointed a fan directly on me. I’m a really sweaty guy when I exercise. I call it my hyper-efficient cooling system.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t yoga but I should, I think it could help my middle aged body. Yoga seems solid and serious, I gave respect for it. I don’t do pickle ball and have no desire, sometimes when something gets too popular I go the other way and want to reject it, a lame attempt at rebellion. When I got sober I discovered that some of people who get sober, also get certified in yoga yoga teacher training. Both take a lot of hard work and determination.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not surprised about sober people wanting to get seriously into yoga. MANY of the people in the ultra trail running community are former addicts. I think we have a tendency to do things all the way. Drink, exercise, pray, etc. With my OCD meds, I’ve broken away from that single minded focus, but I definitely understand it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My husband hates yoga. I love it. What we hate our body needs. I introduced our son to weight training in the past month. He hates that I can lift so much more than he can,. I made a point of telling my men I hate shoulder work. I have found using straps, bolster cushions, and blocks can help correct posture and form.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hmm. I should get back into it. Everything hurts all the time, no doubt because they’re no longer limber. Stick with it! All those strong, bendy yogis in India, hardly aging- it’ll be worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s not for everyone! I can’t do yoga anymore as my joints are too loose (a condition I have) so instead I go for walks as it’s gentler on my body. I figure, to each their own! I used to love spin class, by the way!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well, with an extra week of yoga under my belt, It’s definitely helping my body and it seems to be improving my running. Last night’s class was almost enjoyable at times. I think I’m going to stick with it. My wife and I go for walks together a lot, and once or twice a week, I walk to work. Walking is very relaxing for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I really love your blog. Enjoying reading them regularly. Would you like to contribute a post to my blog LEKH Magazine as a guest author? Let me know. My blog has international traffic that would help you get more traffic to your blog. Talk about books, recent ideas and much more. I promote author bio in each post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Would the post need to be something new and unique or could it be something already published on my blog. I’m really having a hard time carving out writing time right now. I definitely wouldn’t want to commit to writing something new. Probably not what you have in mind, but man, I’d love it if you would post https://jefftcann.com/2023/03/28/torque/. Tourette Awareness month starts on Monday and I’m trying to spread the word as widely as possible. Let me know what you have in mind. Generally I’m fine with people reposting my stuff if they give attribution. A website called the Good Men Project does that every week.


  9. I’m with you. Years ago I subjected myself to a 2 week ashram stay in the Caribbean featuring two hours morning and two hours afternoon yoga. Barely made it out of the first few days — like boot camp. It’s true that I became more limber by the 2nd week and felt more oxygenated what with the sea breezes and the vegetarian food all day.

    But I had zero inclination to cotinue with the exercises once I got back home 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s been four or five weeks since I restarted and it’s getting easier. I doubt it will ever be my favorite activity but I love that I did yard work last weekend without back pain. Thanks for reading.


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