Monday, April 13, 2009

hang your head

I’m in a beautiful, modern house, shaking on a mat – one of ten purple and blue mats, laid out neatly in two rows on a wooden floor.

Or at least, my leg is shaking. It’s telling me that it’s not used to me placing demands on it in this way.

It’s a yoga class. People think Madison is a yoga kind of town. Is there anyone within six miles of the isthmus who has never done yoga? I’ve certainly dabbled in it. Really, most everyone has.

But forty or fifty years back, you could not find a decent yoga class here. That's what Nicky Plaut tells me. She moved here from Belgium to marry a Madison man. She came with a love of pilates ("since I was six!"), dance and yoga.

Fifteen degrees in! Your other foot needs to be at that angle, she tells me now. Nicky is tough. Nicky wont let you slouch. And by the way, in three months, Nicky’ll be celebrating her 80th birthday. Last month, she left Mounds Yoga (after 26 years of instructing there) to open her own business from her home. Ah, the entrepreneurial spirit: it can strike at any time. ("I don’t have to drive to work in snow anymore!") Many commute a long way to get to her new studio. Me – I’m barely half a mile down the road. And I’m a brand new fan.

Hang your head. Let it go now…

Nicky wants me to hang my head, but I want to keep my eyes focused on her. So nimble! How does one get to be so nimble at that age?

Is there any doubt? After class, she shows me her own quiet space upstairs. This is how she begins her day…






Release between the shoulder blades…

We are in the final minutes of the 90 minute class. A pillow under my head, a warm wool blanket covering me (“you can’t relax if you’re not warm…”). Nicky talks about relaxing different parts of the body. It’s like a complete mental massage. But so much cheaper! All this and a nimble body for $10?

The class is not easy. She holds us in position for a long time (“you should release if it’s too much!” Maybe you should, but I’m too competitive; I’ll hang in there until my muscles scream). But at the end of class, I am completely mellow… at peace with pretty much everyone and everything.

Drippy cold rain outside... Nice... It’ll make the flowers grow.

[If you need to be inspired, stretched, relaxed, call Nicky at Hill Top Yoga – 233-8406. Tell her I got you to pick up the phone.)