Say Ommm

12 Nov

Sitting in an uncomfortable pose in a dimly-lit room while a middle-aged Greek man moans and groans is not my idea of a good time.  Maybe it’s yours, in which case I apologize for offending you.  But really, it’s not mine…at all.  Unfortunately, I am forced to endure this experience every Monday and Wednesday for the next few months, an hour and a half at a time.

Part of my fellowship program requires that I enroll in two classes at the night school offered on campus.  We’re technically here on student visas, so we have to somehow prove we’re students.  One of the classes is Beginner’s Greek, which I’m fine with.  I don’t know Greek, and they’re offering to teach it to me for free?  Sounds like a sweet deal to me.  The second course is a class of our choosing.  But there are stipulations.  One stipulation to be clear.  All the other classes are taught entirely in Greek.  And this is how I end up taking Yoga.

I thought I’d like yoga.  In fact, I do still think I’d like yoga.  What I’m taking every Monday and Wednesday is not yoga.  Yes, we are in strange poses.  Yes, we are focusing on our breath.  But let me reiterate: this is not yoga.  I’m pretty sure somebody told my middle-aged heavy-breathing yoga instructor that yoga was simply putting your body in weird positions, and then sent him on his way.  Many of our poses are not in anyway related to anything resembling yoga, and none of them ever flow fluidly into the following pose.  Transitioning from one pose to the next usually involves jumping, completely twisting your body, or literally moving body parts with your hands to switch, like when you attempt to move your contorted foot from Red to Green in Twister.  All the while (and an hour and a half is a looonnnggg while) the instructor is telling us to relax and concentrate and let the world around us melt away.  This would be fine, if he did not breathe like he was on a ventilator and didn’t moan and groan every five seconds.  How many times can I hear “mmmmmm”  “oohhhhhh”  “aahhhhhh” “mmmhhhmmm” before I vomit my spanikopita?  One time, I even heard an “oh yeah.”  I thought this was yoga.  When did I sign up for the New Age group sex class?

Which brings me to my next point.  The music.  He plays music during every class.  This music is not the water-dropping bamboo-drumming I-feel-like-I’m-in-an-upper-middle-class-resort-spa-with-white-people-wearing-kimonos Asian music you’d expect.  The class tonight featured the New Age music that brings to mind men with long, flowing, gray hair wearing tunics, linen pants and jewelry, not relaxation.  Last week, we stretched and contorted to what I can only imagine was the soundtrack to Schindler’s List.  As I told my friend, it was like watching The Pianist with my eyes closed.  Or an old lengthy Russian film.  Take your pick.  Whichever you choose, I’m hoping you’ll agree that neither lends itself to soothing yogic instruction.

Last class I tried to have a good attitude.  I gave it my all, only held in laughter twice, and only fell over once.  I was improving.  We were in the middle of the intense airplane pose.  You know, the one where you stand on one leg, with the other behind you and your arms out to both sides as you lean forward?  I was having great luck with the whole balancing thing, and was trying to focus on a stationary object ahead of me for the remainder of the pose.  Sadly, the woman in front of me was having trouble staying up, as her DDD boobs kept pulling her down and causing her to tumble.  Let me tell you, it’s pretty damn challenging to hold a pose when an overly-endowed Greek lady is falling and flopping all over the place right in front of your stationary object.  Tonight, I didn’t sit by her, and we didn’t do the pose.  I think I’m getting better.  I didn’t fall over, and I only laughed once.  I did fall asleep though, and possibly snored.  How does that factor into my success rate?

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2 Responses to “Say Ommm”

  1. Jillian Levi June 26, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    You completely answered one of my biggest questions! I’ve been wondering how the visa process works and now the student visa thing entirely makes sense!! How long did the process take before you left do you remember?

    • Allyson June 30, 2011 at 2:32 am #

      Hi Jillian,
      Glad to hear that you’re enjoying my blog! I’d be happy to answer any questions you have, and I can promise that you have a wonderful year ahead of you! In terms of the visa application, I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork and then head over to a local police station to get fingerprinted, and then had to take everything to the Greek consulate. It was a slightly trying process but after the consulate visit, I think that was it. They just mail back your passport with the student visa, if I remember correctly? As for applying and getting a residency permit and everything once we got there, I’m not sure we ever actually got approved or denied. After the first month or two in Greece the process will be complete on your end, however it ends up taking the government so long to process everything on their end that I’m pretty sure they get back to you regarding your status after you’ve already left. If I remember correctly, the previous year’s fellows got their approvals/denials a few months into OUR fellowship year. So it really only affects anyone who is staying a 2nd year. Does that make sense?

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