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Relax Your What?!


Sometimes I’m startled that I am as old as I am. Because despite the maturity that comes with age, I can’t help but occasionally revert back to juvenile middle-school behavior that I’d thought I’d outgrown.

In my attempt to be mature and worldly, I enrolled several years ago in my first yoga class. I needed to learn how to chill out a little bit, and figured being in touch with my inner Zen would help to center my balance, achieve yin-yang, and maybe I’d get a little feng-shui thrown in for good measure.

It was great. First class, I learned my sun salutation, stretched limbs so tight from lack of use that they deserved to snap like tree branches. My teacher, a former type-A New Yorker-turned-Yogaville devotee whose chosen Yoga name, Suraya, more closely resembled that of an Indian guru than someone from the Bronx, was very serene. His soothing voice tranquilized even the tensest of class members: me. In his calm coaxing tone, he encouraged us to rid our minds of any pollutants, to focus on our center, and be at peace within. Fine, I was on the same page at this point. I’d really started feeling that I could change, become a woman unfettered by the stresses of life.

The final fifteen minutes of class were devoted to complete relaxation. Cool, I thought. That is right up my Type-A alley. We all lay on the floor, eyes closed, focused on our own inner universe. The mesmerizing music on the boom box washed over me as Suraya talked us through letting go of whatever tensions remained. He began with the toes, worked his way up ever so gradually to calves, knees, thighs.

And then came the clincher.

“Relax your anal sphincter,” he said, as serious as an executioner, not even remotely cracking a smile.

What? That’s impossible. First of all, It defies the laws of nature. And secondly, even if we could, just think how nasty that would be! We can’t do that, I thought. Like a naughty kindergartener whose head is supposed to be face down on the desk during naptime, I snuck glances all around me. No one but me thought that was the funniest line ever uttered.

I could feel my laughter erupting, and from my unrelaxed belly it rose. I tried desperately to suppress it, but it was of no use. I cackled so loudly that the entire class opened their once-relaxed eyelids and glared directly at me. Even Suraya looked a bit uptight.

As the class drew to a close, the peaceful silence destroyed, I slunk from the room, somewhat embarrassed at my level of immaturity. But I actually felt more relaxed, having belted out a good belly laugh.

Yes, I realize I have gone from middle school to middle age, but isn’t it nice to know that you don’t always have to totally grow up?

Less than five months till Winging It wings into bookstores!
Less than five months till Winging It wings into bookstores!

Categories: exercise, Jenny Gardiner, News, relaxation, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me, women, women's fiction, yoga



  1. Francesca Prescott says:

    Ha! You’re definitely a girl after my own heart, Jenny. Once you’re past the relaxation part, there’s just something about “engaging Mulabanda” that doesn’t sound right! Just know that, had I been there, I’d have caught your sneaky glance and giggled with you.

  2. Sally V Johnson says:

    Freaking priceless story! I have to go to a yoga class instead of doing a video because I’d hit fast-forward too much. And yes, a fully-belly laugh is a marvelous relaxant.

  3. jennygardiner says:

    Oh I know, those home workout tapes are not always such a good idea because of the pause and FF buttons ;-) . Thanks for stopping by!

  4. sarah pekkanen says:

    Oh, girl, you’re killing me… that is hysterical! How could you not laugh at that?

  5. jenny gardiner says:

    And this is so why i don’t do hot yoga–I hear the emissions in there are noxious…can’t imagine once they’ve relaxed their, well, you know…

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