Cheerleading is about as opposite of yin yoga as you can get. I contemplate this as I lay swaddled in blankets, supported by blocks, a beanbag resting heavily on my eyelids and bolstered on boosters. (Or is it boosted on bolsters? Very confusing.) I’m holding a stretch for 3-5 minutes in order to target the deepest tissues of my body. Unlike hot yoga, this room is chilly. I screw up yet again, and wear a tank top and bare feet, toting a towel in the event of excessive perspiration. Everyone looks like they’re heading out for a brisk fall walk. I look like I’m on spring break. Which is why I’m thinking about cheerleading.
Co-ed cheerleading and half-naked, drunken high-school students running amok in tropical climes are closely related. How do I know this? I was a cheerleader. Sorry mom and dad but here’s the real story. I was a member of one of the worst co-ed teams in the history of crowd-pleasing squads. We rarely cheered a game, our routines were pathetically executed, our pyramids often collapsed, and our safety record was worse than the rugby team’s. (Ultimately our excessive injuries were what shut us down). But we had a blast attending competitions—an excuse to party on the school’s tab.
I still remember my partner Tim downing a two-four and trying to lift me over his head the next morning during our performance. A body builder, his arms were so thick that forearm and bicep barely touched. But his mind was so foggy that morning, he dropped me right on my butt. Unlike yoga, our cheerleading practice was mat-free, rarely included a warm-up and never involved any type of reflection prior to doing something completely idiotic. We stood outside in the cold with stiff muscles, flew through the air with limited prep, yelled at the top of your lungs and were definitely not chasing a mind-body connection—unless it involved a bad decision and a six-pack (not the kind you drink).
This is what I ponder in the dim light, enveloped by new-age tunes, as my muscles elongate and fascia softens. I find that meditation takes me to some weird places: my teens and pom-poms? How do you refocus from that point? Eventually, deep breathing gives way to a snooze on the mat and I wake just in time to rush to Little C’s preschool. I’m getting old. I could get used to this. It’s a midday nap. No, it’s exercise. No, it’s a nap….
For more on yin yoga check out EkhartYoga.
The good thing is meditative yoga takes my mind off food. There are only so many beans and greens a girl can eat. Turns out I have a big family event on the tail end of this challenge that I hadn’t accounted for. I figure, how hard can it be? No need for planning ahead. Bring. It. On. Ha! All you vegans out there are laughing your plant-based heads off, right?
My exchange with the server at the first set dinner went something like this:
I scan the menu: Matzoh ball soup. (Basically egg dumplings floating in chicken broth. Two strikes.)
“Do you have a vegetable soup I can have instead?” I inquire.
“Our soup of the day is mushroom.”
“Oh, but it’s a chicken-stock base.” She purses her lips. “You can have the salad though.”
“Sounds good.” I look at the menu. “Um, it’s Caesar. That has cheese.”
“I can bring you a garden salad?’”
“That’s fine.” No soup; one bowl of rabbit food. “Oh, and no onions, please.”
No particular reason other than they don’t agree with me. She nods.
“Oh, and balsamic dressing is good–on the side.”
“Of course,” she notes it on her pad.
I glance at the menu again.
“Ahhh, I can’t eat the salmon or chicken…. Well, I can eat them,” I smile awkwardly. “I’m just choosing not to right now…” I feel increasingly self-conscious and ridiculous. “I’m normally not vegan. It’s for a blog…”
“…. I went without meat, and then fish, and now dairy. I usually—“
“How about pasta?” The server offers up a polite smile.
“Oh, okay, yeah pasta,” I nod apologetically. I am that person: that annoying, fussy customer. Keep in mind, this is all following the allergy talk and detailed directions I have given about my kids. I so don’t want to be the kooky mom—especially when my kids’ restrictions are serious and mine are a whim.
“How is mushroom and spinach?” She prods me along. “It’s in its own vegetable broth.”
“Oh, that’s great. Perfect. Just perfect.” If I nodded anymore I’d be a bobble-head. I add: “No Parmesan though.”
“Of course,” she turns to leave. I turn back to my wine. What a pain in the ass. I’m a pain in the ass. I have to do this all weekend. Then I remember. Shit.
“Excuse me!” I call after her. She turns back and kindly masks an eye roll with raised brows.
‘Can I get that pasta gluten-free?” It’s my only legitimate request since I’ve been gluten-free for awhile.
Did she just swear under her breath?
Veganism. Good times.