Scandal erupts as rumors about an exercise class spin around a small town. Two middle-aged women....heretics? Or just trying to work out a few kinks?
Wreaking Havoc in the Presbyterian Church Basement.
Nearly four years ago, my friend Bea and I decided to start an exercise class.
We were both in withdrawal since our regular aerobics class had gone defunct and I was determined NOT to go through another winter without exercising. I was getting old and stiff and mean and crotchety.
Bea would teach aerobics, toning, free weights and kick-boxing and I would teach yoga, which I have been doing (sporadically) for more than 30 years.
We put up our shingle and got a good response.
The exercise class was held in the basement of the Presbyterian Church, which I attend. Not long after our first class was held, one of our students approached me and said that she'd been confronted by two women who had warned her that she shouldn't be coming to our class. These women insisted that we were doing something diabolical, that we were....altering minds in the Presbyterian Church basement.
Bea and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Such an allegation! Heavens, if we were capable of doing that why were we limiting ourselves to a church basement in rural Ohio with 25 middle-aged women as our market? Could we NOT make a mint if we had THAT kind of ability? We might end up on the cover of TIME magazine or, better yet, become charismatic rulers of the world.
Technically speaking, any time you exercise you alter your mind because you're altering your body chemistry. The brain releases endorphins when you work out which is why you feel and look better after you've exercised and why some people get addicted to exercise. They like the feeling they experience. And, obviously, one of the objectives of exercising is to alter the body: To make it thinner or bigger or firmer or stronger or more flexible.
However, the mind-altering allegations that were made were based solely on the fact that we were doing yoga. Aerobics was acceptable. Yoga was not.
Yoga was something mystical and foreign and suspect.
Of course, the women who made the allegations had never attended our class nor had they ever done yoga, I suspect. Their alarmist comments were made out of sheer ignorance.
In our yoga class, we do not preach any sort of religion. We don't aspire to become yogis. Most of us are content being Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists. However, we DO aspire to be healthy and agile and strong. We DO aspire to be calm, peaceful, well-balanced and mindfully aware of ourselves and our surroundings. We do want to eliminate stress from our lives or, at the least, learn how to better cope with it. And...our exercise class helps our students do just that.
Our most devoted student is Ruth, who is 70 now, and has been in the class from the start. Ruth is a former missionary. She is about as mainstream as they get when it comes to religion. Not only does she NOT object to what we're doing, she's convinced that our class, particularly the yoga, enables her to keep up with her four, young grandchildren whom she babysits.
Well, so much for altering minds in the Presbyterian Church basement.
Bea and I still get a chuckle out of that.