The Accidental Yogi: Winning a Year of Yoga Classes


The following was written by guest blogger Susan Heffern-Shelton, winner of our Facebook drawing for a free year of Yoga. Susan will be blogging here about her yearlong yoga journey with us.

Now, please don’t go getting all intimidated when I tell you this, but you should probably know that I do yoga five days a week. In fact — and again, try not to be too impressed — I teach yoga five days a week. Yep, before 8 a.m. each and every weekday for more years than I care to count, I have led a group of 20 fit, young yogis.

I know. Pretty amazing, huh?

I’m sure you can imagine what kind of condition I’m in after all of this. Go ahead. Imagine.

It’s possible I may have glossed over a detail or two here. Inadvertently.

I mentioned the young yogis, right? Did I mention how young?

*cough* Four. *cough cough*

Or that the classroom where I teach isn’t so much a yoga studio as it is a … Pre-K?

Hey, it’s not my fault you jumped to conclusions. If you need me to spell it out for you, fine. Here is exactly what my daily yoga session looks like:

7:45 a.m.

The school PA system crackles to life, “Teachers, please turn on your SmartBoards for the morning announcements.”

7:46 a.m.

“Okay, guys! Everybody up,” I chirp, walking to the front of the classroom. We stretch into our first Sun Salutation. “Hello, Sun,” we chant cheerfully.

7:47 a.m.

Aiming a knee toward the Housekeeping Center, we lean into Warrior. “Hold it.” Redirect toward the Block Center and repeat. “Good, boys and girls! Hold it.”

7:48 a.m.

Bored with Warrior Pose, “Okay, hands up and into Mountain.”

Come on with the announcements, already. What the hell’s the hold up, people?

7:49 a.m.

Wiping sweat from my brow, I face the unavoidable truth: We’re going to have to do Downward Dog. Not because I want to, but because it is literally the only other pose I know and those loser punks in the elementary school newsroom apparently can’t get their shit together. I mean, I know they’re only eight, but whatever happened to professionalism?

“Okay, guys. Hands on the floor, bottoms up.” Peals of laughter rise around the room. I said The B Word. I huff out a resigned breath, shoot the floor a dirty look, and enter my pose. And by “enter my pose,” I mean slump to the floor. (Did I mention I’m elderly and haven’t exercised since the Nixon administration? No? Weird.) Instantly, the blood begins to pool in my face fat like a water balloon held too long at the tap.

Half the class is now crawling around barking (I’m looking at you, boys) while the other half is giving it their most earnest attempt (thank you, girls). Small black dots swirl before my eyes; the aneurysm won’t be long now. I can’t see what the kids are doing anymore because my blood-engorged cheek fat is now completely obscuring my eyes. I would totally be a Bird Box survivor.

7:50 a.m.

Consciousness begins to slip away; I hear voices in the distance, “Good Morning, Fulbright Falcons. Please stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Well it’s about Goddamn time.

Now, I understand if you’re scratching your head right about now, wondering why a person who looks at five minutes of yoga like it’s hard time in a North Korean labor camp would even enter a contest where the prize is more yoga. No one’s more perplexed than me.

I mean, of course I want to be healthy. I want to be fit. I want more focus, more self-confidence, more inner peace and harmony or whatever yoga people have. But Sweet Baby Buddha, do I really have to exercise to get it? I won’t lie. My first words when I saw that I won were WHAT HAVE I DONE?!

Some of my favorite people are yoga people. I’ve always admired yoga people. I’ve always envied yoga people. I’ll even go so far as to say I’ve always wanted to BE a yoga person. They’re all so blissed-out and bendy, floating out of class like the Bhagwan and his buddies heading for a nice cup of hemp tea in Rajneeshpuram. Seriously, the Lululemon alone. I mean. Who doesn’t want to be a yoga person?

But it’s sort of like every time I see a jeep drive by with kayaks on the roof. Man, I want to be a jeep-with-kayaks kind of person. But the truth of the matter is, I’m not a jeep-with-kayaks kind of person any more than I’m a yoga kind of person. I am a Netflix-with-wine kind of person. I have a close, personal relationship with my couch. I do live in yoga pants, but that’s as close as it gets.

Yet here I sit, on my fluffy down couch—Cabernet in one hand, remote in the other—teetering on the precipice of A FULL YEAR OF YOGA.

What have I gotten myself into?

Y’all might want to start a little friendly office wagering on how this is going to play out. Your guess is as good as mine.

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