Geometry And Yoga

I took remedial Geometry in 10th grade.  I’m not sure how they knew this was a terrible subject for me, but they did.  Having just come from, and loved, algebra, I wasn’t very concerned about Geometry.  Imagine my surprise when it just didn’t seem to take.  Apparently I am missing the spacial awareness chip, so angles and visual distances are lost on me.  I escaped the class with a C, which I’m guessing was a combination of the teacher feeling sorry for me and him not wanting me back in his class again.  The only thing I ever learned about geometry is that I’m really bad at geometry!


Fast forward 30 some odd years and I find that for the 1st time in my life, I actually need some of those skills!  And guess where I need them?  Not in my home improvements, not in my sewing, not in my landscaping, not in helping my kids with their homework, but in my Yoga Class!  Who knew?


There I am in Yoga, feeling extremely competent, strong and centered, when suddenly the teacher says “place your foot at a 45 degree angle”.  Panic sets in.  Which one is 45 degrees?  Is it a half turn, 3/4 turn, 25% turn?  Or is one of them 90 degrees?  And what does it mean to “do a 180”? I do the only thing I can think of – I cheat and look at my neighbor.  Sorry for the intrusion, fellow Yogi.   I find it is usually downhill from there, because the teachers who use this cue do so often.  As a matter of fact, now that I’m writing this, I might just start skipping those classes.  Nothing is worse then leaving your Yoga class feeling stupid.  (Well, ok, some things are worse……)


When I first started Yoga, it was in  a Repose class, which is a very gentle class designed for cancer survivors.   There were no references to angles.  I wonder if I would have continued, had my first class been full of directions including angles.  I might have felt so dumb I wouldn’t have returned.  Thank God that didn’t happen!


Isn’t it bad enough that we have to remember our right from our left?  Isn’t it bad enough that often a pose involves placing one part of our body to the right and the other to the left?  And what about the whole clock thing; you know, “put your hand at 2:00”.  Speaking of which, how do Millennial’s do Yoga with instructors who use clocks as a reference?  For the Millennial, a clock is digital.  The placement for 2:00 is to the left of the minutes!   I guess I better not peek at a Millennial when I’m at a loss.


And then there’s the whole space issue.  When the teacher says “place your hands 6 inches in front of you”, what does that mean?  What is 6 inches?  And, if that is going to be a reference used in Yoga, shouldn’t there be a ruler on our mats?  For that matter, why not create a mat that has both inches & feet marked at regular intervals, a clock to reference, and Left & Right written in each corner?  I would invent such a thing but I have this issue with space and angles!


All joking aside, I try to do my classes with my eyes closed.  This is very helpful in terms of not comparing myself to others and staying in my own head.  I often find though, when I open my eyes because I’ve been told 60 degrees and I don’t know what that means, that I’m in a completely different pose then everyone else!  Which is another compelling reason to keep my eyes closed.


The lesson here is if you find me looking at you in Yoga class, I’m not gawking, I’m just trying to figure out what the hell to do!

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