Privileged Pain

I’ve been taking a lot of yoga classes lately. In these past few months, I’ve learned to invert myself in ways I never thought possible. I’ve stretched my hamstrings deeper than ever. Heck, I even bought one of those yogi-toes mats that I thought only dedicated yogis purchased.

I’ve become accustomed to different styles of yoga, different levels of spirituality that instructors infuse into their practice, and varying class intensities. I’ve lost pounds of water weight after hot yoga classes, refueling promptly afterward with wine, a hearty meal and a frozen cupcake or two. I’ve also tried to throw a little running into the mix, which resulted in 3.3 miles on a treadmill at a nearby gym I faked interest in joining, followed by the return of a few old aches and pains (welcome to my snow day Thursday).

Upon reflection, I’m becoming one of those yoga people I never thought I’d mirror in any way. Here I am, buying deals for studios all around New York to get my yoga-fill as often as I can. I make time for this newfound outlet in my life, but only when it’s fun and doesn’t get in the way of my silly food and drink adventures. But I’ve got a complaint (shocker, I know). A major one that’s been nagging at me for weeks, that’s only stirred by listening to incessant teacher appraisal.

So often I’m told during a yoga class that I should congratulate myself for being here, for being present and showing up to a yoga class on any particular day. For surviving the heated room, for sweating out Saturday night’s alcoholic binge at 10AM the morning after, for pushing myself to the max.

But wait a second… I’m here because I chose to be here. Because I’m a privileged, upper-middle-class white chick who can actually afford (with the help of groupon and livingsocial deals, of course) to take a class after my standard, nine-to-five job that allows for a wondrous social life outside of work. Or in my case, mommy and daddy’s bank account and a part-time social work internship that leaves me feeling overly privileged when I’m told to pat myself on the back for surviving an $18 yoga class.

Not to say that hot yoga, a tough track workout, or any type of exercise is easy. As my running blogger-friend Sarah describes, “running is about suffering a little bit.” But us fitness-focused-folk seek out the pain because we want end results, be it to become a faster runner, hold really cool balancing postures such as this, or attain an overall sense of good health. And the fact that this luxury is afforded to us – the ability to choose what in our frame of reference are a few moments of excruciating pain – makes us extremely lucky.

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Filed under random musings, yoga

8 responses to “Privileged Pain

  1. Sofia,
    I think that one of the most important things to remember is that by choosing to be there and to be present, you are taking care of yourself, which is absolutely necessary if you plan to be able to take care of others (which I know you do). By choosing to spend that time nourishing your own body and soul, you are finding a place of balance that enables you to be the best version of yourself. Right? And doesn’t that in turn benefit all those you come in contact with? I think so. Yes, you are extremely lucky, but you aren’t taking it for granted and that’s what’s important. It’s all about intention.

    • you know, you’re totally right. i guess i’m so into the social-worker-touchy-feely-be-nice-to-yourself-and-in-turn-to-the-world thang that i forget that some people simply aren’t in touch, in tune and aware of their actions and how they affect others. maybe all this yoga has made me a “better” person on some level, and i’m sick of hearing the same babble over and over again? or maybe i’m still kind of a jerk and just don’t want to hear it, inside or outside of yoga class?

      you’ve left me with some questions to ponder. oy. thank you :)

      • You’re just too in tune with yourself, haha. Love it. I think they say it for those of us (like me) that sometimes need to be reminded that it is okay and in fact, smart, to take time to care for ourselves.

      • too in tune = a bit too self-focused sometimes. that’s probably more accurate :)

  2. Very astute observation my friend. Whenever I find myself getting whine-y about exercise hurting, I remind myself that I am lucky to be able to do this. I’m lucky that I have $15 to pay for a track day pass, lucky I have the free time to run, and lucky I have a healthy body and two legs to keep me goin’ :)

    See you oh so soon!!

  3. OH man, I so feel you. I could probably write a novel on this topic but I’ll restrain myself and just say that this kind of shiz always makes me roll my eyes at yoga studios, even ones I love and respect. I agree that loving and appreciating yourself is important, but I really don’t want to hear it from a yoga teacher. That’s the kind of thing I think is best heard from your mom or your boyfriend. Not someone you pay.

    • maybe that’s what bothers me about it – it makes sense people that know me should tell me i’m awesome for doing what i do, not a yoga teacher. i’d prefer them to be themselves and not act as if they tell me i’m great i’ll come back for more. it’s the monetary aspect that could make it seem disingenuous.

  4. you are so right! It’s easy to forget how lucky we are to be able to do the things we do because we’re so wrapped up doing the things that we do. Taking a step back, we realize just how good our lives are. Thanks for the reminder :)

    yoga sometime soon! and cheese/whine/wine(?)

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