Yoga to be Kidding: My G-Spot is not between my Y O and A-Spot
Far be it for me to question a several thousand-year-old practice, currently lauded and revered by the masses, but every time I step onto my rubber mat and hear the words “now, close your eyes and focus on your breath” I feel as though I’m stuck in the middle of a modern-day version of the emperor’s new clothes.
Before I incite the inevitable ire of lululemon’s limber Lycra-clad devotees, and likely the entire population of Santa Monica, I must point out that I’m not your average downward dog dilettante, criticizing from afar. To my credit, I have tried every kind of yoga available in my area. Repeatedly. To no avail. When I say I tried every kind of yoga, I mean every kind, including Pre-natal, Laughter, and even Horse.
I barely made it in the door of the Pre-natal class when my pregnant friend outed my lack of fetus for all to hear, “she’s not really pregnant, you know.” From then on, the class was largely made up of “now girls, focus on your babies…and Sara you can….” Though I was humbled and in awe of the ease with which several of these heavily pregnant women maneuvered their way through the poses; it was, in hindsight, one of the worst yoga experiences I’ve had simply for the fact that it only managed to enhance my lack of connection with the practice, the instructor and my fellow classmates.
Disconnection was also front and centre when I attended my first Kundalini class. Instead of minding my mudra, I couldn’t help but fixate on the fact that I had unknowingly walked into the diner en blanc version of a yoga class. My black ensemble, and soon to be outlook, contrasted greatly with the ethereal all-white turban clad Kaurs radiating a disconcerting inner calm, which belied what was to come. After surviving the breath of fire, whereupon I chased detoxification, while panting like a dog, my dignity was in tatters. I went in search of some much needed levity.
Laughter yoga though deceptively simple in theory, is anything but. First, one must consider the fact that if you manage to convince a friend to come to class with you, it is highly likely they will never speak to you again, or at the very least your friendship will be changed forever. Second, keep in mind that the term yoga is used loosely to describe a room of adults engaging in embarrassing and sometimes ridiculous behavior in an effort to incite laughter in themselves and each other. Based on the premise that the brain can’t distinguish between real and fake laughter, practitioners hope to reap its benefits, ranging from increased happiness to reducing stress. While I love a good fart joke as much as the next person, the “pretend you’re in an elevator and someone just tooted” exercise had the opposite effect, causing me undo stress as I cringed inwardly for everyone in the room. If you manage to get past your embarrassment, then authentic laughter shouldn’t be very difficult as you watch your friend shoot you looks of death through a crowd ha ha-ing to the tune of “row, row, row your boat.”
In hindsight, far funnier than fake guffaws was how I managed to find myself at a weekend horse yoga retreat in Stowe, Vermont. There’s a good reason this practice doesn’t appear in the Yoga Sutras. The solely contrived creation is less ashram and primarily about doing it for the ‘Gram. While the majority of the classes were done on an outdoor deck overlooking the horses’ paddocks, the titular event involved each of us climbing onto the back of a stallion named Pegasus and attempting various awkward poses. Deservedly so, I fell off his back while doing a downward dog and into the arms of the waiting spotters. It would be safe to say that Pegasus likely wished for a trip to the glue factory rather than being complicit in our pathetic posturing.
In no way am I denying that yoga has benefits. It is without a doubt a workout and then some. All my aching muscles will attest to that after any Power class. It is, however, the absence of something else that is far more noticeable: the lack of a spiritual experience, or anything remotely close to it. Overall, my frustration stems from the fact that yoga is touted as a life-changing practice: body and mind. I do not take personal offense to Pilates or Spinning because they promise no more than a tight tush. But yoga does. It holds out the proverbial carrot of spiritual enlightenment and well-being. Devotees far and wide claim that it “changed their lives.” Who wouldn’t want some of that? I certainly did.
The lululemon manifesto states that, “children are the orgasm of life. Just like you did not know what an orgasm was before you had one, nature does not let you know how great children are until you have one.” It was the very possibility of my missing out on an orgasm of life that led me to throw myself into yoga whole-heartedly. What if yoga was intangible in the exact same way? I continued for several years to cling to this notion, thinking I simply didn’t get it because I hadn’t experienced it. Thinking slow might be the way to go, I tried Hatha. Nothing. Faster. I tried Flow. Faster. Faster. Don’t stop. I tried Ashtanga. Still nothing. Maybe Hot Yoga. It’s sweaty. Maybe Anusara. It’s Tantric-based. Nope. Nada. Maybe it was the instructor. I tried a man. I tried a woman. It became overwhelmingly clear that my g-spot did not seem to lie between my y o and a-spot.
Could the craze be partly placebo? Could it be heat stroke? Could it be all the blood rushing to everyone’s heads? All of these theories eased my mind temporarily. Admitting defeat once and for all, I refused to idly wonder what all of these yogis with their jewel-toned mats had that I didn’t, and instead reminded myself that all the Lycra in the world wasn’t going to make the emperor’s new clothes fit.
Sara Kinninmont is a writer, non-practicing slut, outdoor unenthusiast, and yoga hater based in Vancouver, Canada. Her book The Bucket/F*ck It List was published by Clarkson Potter in 2019. When not writing about food, sex or travel, she can be found keeping a running tally of strangers who tell her she “looks just like the chick from Weeds.” Currently, the self-described hedonist divides her time between creating a TV show with a local director and tirelessly advocating on behalf of maligned Scorpios everywhere.