Yoga and Tap: A Tender Trap


By Marla Boone

Contributing columnist

This started out being about both tap dancing and yoga. I’ve written about tap dancing before. This is something my neighbor never lets me forget. Twenty years later, she is still laughing about it, which might say more about her sense of humor than it does about journalistic longevity. In any event, trying to squeeze both topics into one column isn’t going to work any better than the double eagle yoga pose, so named, one assumes, because you have to be almost double jointed to perform it.

Yoga is touted as a “spiritual and ascetic discipline,” which as good a definition as any. It’s a wonderful way to keep limber and flexible. It’s also supposed to be relaxing although I’m usually trying so hard not to fall down I don’t relax until we do the corpse pose (I am not making this up) at the end. This pose consists of lying on your back with your eyes closed. I might stink at the double eagle, but I am aces at the corpse pose. Yoga is also very good for your balance, and this is where it is going to tie into tap dancing. Stay tuned.

One of the most entertaining parts of yoga is the name of the poses. Aside from the aforementioned double eagle and corpse, we have the warrior series, the bird dog, up dog, down dog, cobra, and sun salutation just to name a few. Just to be aesthetically disciplined, we do the sun salutation even when there is no sun to salute. There is a lot of bending and stretching, which leads to a lot of creaking and groaning. Perhaps I have not yet reached the stage of enlightenment and oneness with the universe or with my body because I always ask the instructor if we’re going to begin standing or sitting. I’d hate to have my avoirdupois already settled on the mat and then have to rise again to start. The guy next to me refers to this as a “wasted get-up,” and there is no one over the age of 60 reading this who doesn’t know what he means.

One thing we do almost every class is to sit cross-legged (or as near to that as a room full of titanium and plastic knees will allow) and turn our heads halfway up to the left and then rotate halfway up to the right. It feels good and is no doubt releasing all sorts of neck tension. It’s designed, again, to be relaxing, but it’s hard to relax when your neck is making the noises my neck is making. It sounds like the Tin Man before Dorothy caught on and gave him a couple of squirts of oil. My neck sounds as though it could use a case or two of 10W30 applied liberally and often.

A yoga practitioner should not be gawking around the room to see what other people are doing. A yoga practitioner should be focused and serene and coughing just a little to cover up the awful sounds her neck is making. I try to do yoga with my eyes closed because I read somewhere that enhances my balance skills and my balance skills need all the enhancing they can get. But occasionally my discipline slips, and I sneak a peek and am gratified to see I’m not doing much better or much worse than anyone else.

Except for one. In the defense of all us old fogeys, this one is about one third our age. Her calm and serenity are nearly visible although calm rays actually shooting out of your body is probably an oxymoron. She can do all sorts of complicated poses with barely a bobble and she is calm on the rare occasion she does wobble. After class one day, she was talking (calmly, of course) to the instructor, and I was shamelessly eavesdropping. This woman has young children at home and was no doubt being a superb, calm mother but her four-year-old was being a four-year-old. My own parenting abilities consist of shrieking at misbehaving children but her peaceful demeanor never left. She mentioned the girl’s wanting to “establish her own identity” and “assert her independence” when all the woman really wanted was for the kid to get in the car. She referred to her Zen zone. Well, I didn’t know I was supposed to have a Zen zone, and I wasn’t really sure where to get one. This woman was trying to create a Zen zone with her four-year-old, which is probably another oxymoron. Full disclosure: I admitted I was eavesdropping and told this woman she was definitely going to be in the paper. She remained calm.

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