It’s not that I thought stretching class was going to be a piece of cake, exactly. But whoa. Like, seriously, whoa! Let me put it this way: stretching class is a lot like therapeutic massage or physiotherapy. You go there to suffer miserably through most of it, but you leave it feeling ever so much better, and not just because it’s finally over.
I went to Jay’s poledance studio on Monday. It really works out perfectly with modern class: I just need to fall out of one door and into the other. I don’t even have to put on my shoes.
The studio is exceptionally well-equipped. Besides such essentials as poles (duh), yoga mats and yoga blocks, it also has some handy torture tools, such as foam rollers and something called a yoga wheel. At the beginning of the class people started piling all this stuff up next to their preferred spot. The wheel, a rather broad, sturdy ring of about 30 cm across, confused me and one of the other girls, so we asked the person next to us what the hell it was for. She gave it the innocuous introduction of «Oh, that’s for your back».
After actually trying it out, I am convinced that being «for your back» is missing a key word. For example «for torturing your back», the yoga wheel’s main calling being a medieval interrogation device and maybe also an exorcism tool. I studied it closely afterwards and was surprised to find no occult symbols inscribed on it. Maybe they were concealed by its rubber coating.
To use this infernal contraption, you place it behind your back while sitting upright and then sort of lay down on it, while pulling your arms behind your head and your shoulderblades together. This has had a number of interesting effects on me. First, I felt my back really bend, beyond the meagre extent of my pathetic cobra pose. Second, all the muscle knots and tensions which I’ve carefully honed through years of diligent hunching over various books and devices started screaming bloody murder. And finally, on my way home after class my upper back felt straighter than it has been in a long time (or possibly ever).
Other than the diabolical mortification of the flesh by the means of the
demonic circle of death yoga wheel we did quite a lot of other exercises, most of which hurt because that’s stretching for you. The flexibility level of the people in class was quite varied so I was in that comfortable spot where you are neither the best nor the worst and therefore draw the least attention. Jay sorf of spoiled that by telling me to do the grand-battement-ish warm-up without holding on to a pole. People stared for a bit, but forgot all about it once I completely failed to fall over, grow a pair of antlers or do anything exciting at all.
I really enjoyed the class, especially once we were finished with the darned yoga wheel. Jay is a good teacher with an eagle eye for corrections. She’ll sidle up to you when you’re just about convinced you’re going to die now and say something encouraging like «You can come forward a bit more, you know.» And you find out that you actually can and that discomfort is a very relative term because it can always get worse. But throughout that discomfort you will suddenly realise that you’re even closer to the front spilts than last week. The lower part of my front leg was actually resting on the ground! (Disclaimer: I am in possession of
enormous well-proportioned calves, so there’s still a bit to go until a full split is achieved.)
And after all this torture, I just got up and walked out of there on my own two feet. Not only that, today I woke up and continued walking. I’m experiencing a sligtly increased amount DOMS but no further ill effects which is amazing, considering the stuff I did. This is why I think going to a proper stretching class was a great idea.
That is also why I’m going to quit the splits challenge. I’ll definitely continue working very hard toward the splits but removing myself from the challenge would be fair towards the other participants. Not only was I already ahead when we started, I’m using professional help now, so there’s really little honour in winning.
I still want those splits, though. Before the challenge deadline. Heh.