I don’t like young yoga instructors. And it’s not because they can twist their lithe bodies into pretzels while I will never get into crow (I swear it's an abnormal torso to arm length ratio and not a fear of falling on my face).
Youthful yoga instructors annoy me because when I’m juggling a full-time job, a child, a marriage, a cross country move and expanding age spots on my face, I have a really hard time relating to a 20-something whose biggest challenge is to finish all her term papers by the end of the weekend.
Case in point, last Sunday after a particularly brutal week, I went to a great vinyasa class. I was digging it and the instructor until she showed us a pose and told us how we could use it to wow people at our next house party.
A house party? I don’t know about you, but I haven’t guzzled beer at a house party in nearly 20 years, which is what I said to the woman next to me who apparently didn't find the house party comment nearly so weird. Maybe I misjudged her age. For me though, with that one comment, I lost my Zen and my ability to take the teacher seriously.
It was the same “yeah, whatever” feeling that I had when I watched Barbara Walters interview Drew Barrymore when she was about 22. Drew was nauseously full of wisdom and soulful experience. Since she was only a smidge younger than me, I found her to be completely annoying and pretentious. In fact, I refused to watch her movies for more than a decade—not a huge loss, I know. Now I can look back and acknowledge that maybe with her crazy childhood she really was wise beyond her years. Maybe I was just a clueless 24-year-old who didn't want a younger actress to sound smarter than me. Maybe, and it's a big maybe, I was a little envious of her composure and sense of self since I still had no idea who the hell I was or wanted to be. Maybe "The Wedding Singer" was even a funny movie. Maybe.
Perhaps these young teachers are wise beyond their years as well. Maybe they live with roommates who started meth labs in their basements, are drawn to boyfriends who treat them badly or have parents who are alcoholics. Maybe they've learned tough life lessons because of those experiences. Or maybe they're want-to-be chanters who grew up in the beige suburbs and like to spend a lot of money on yoga pants and sun tattoos.
The point is that I don’t know their stories. The second point is that their stories shouldn't really matter. In yoga class, I should only be focusing on my story. These teachers, however naïve they seem to be, are supposed to be my guides to finding the peace within myself. If I can't find it, it's certainly not their fault.
Even though I didn't reach inner wisdom and peace in class that day, I did learn something. Should I ever decide to buy mass quantities of Solo cups and rig up a beer bong in my basement, I have the perfect trick to awe and amaze—just as long as I don't throw my back out doing it.