“Wow, you must have really trained last night.
What was different?”
– My Handsome Man asked.
“I tried yoga.”
“You’re that sore from yoga?”
I tried yoga for the first time on a Tuesday night in August 2009.
I wish I knew the exact date, because I would celebrate the anniversary!
I had recently established somewhat of a routine for myself at the gym. I went on certain days, at certain times. I was running and walking on the treadmill. I dabbled with some weight training machines. I was still getting my feet wet with the whole non-sedentary lifestyle.
Each week I witnessed the same group of people filing in and out of this regular Tuesday night yoga class. The schedule posted outside the group exercise room labeled it simply as, Yoga – All Levels. The description said the class was appropriate for beginners, intermediate and advanced.
I noticed that both men and women attended this class. Different ages. Different shapes. Different weights. Different backgrounds. I noticed the teacher. She was on the shorter side – maybe 5 feet tall. Middle aged. She had wild and curly hair. She had bigger thighs. No makeup, but certainly a glow. I decided this wasn’t an intimidating environment and made up my mind to give it a try. I knew nothing about yoga, but I could tell these people looked forward to being there and none of them were pretzels.
I walked into that first class early. I grabbed a purple mat from the stack and laid it down in the back corner of the room near the exit. As other students took their places, I noticed that some got right on their backs. Some sat cross-legged with their hands in their laps. Others rounded themselves into child’s pose. Everyone seemed comfortable as they settled into their space. I just sat there awkwardly, didn’t know where to look and waited.
The teacher entered calmly, floated through the room, dimmed the lights and sat herself in front on her mat. She seemed relaxed and confident. She had a lovely smile.
She greeted us with a bow.
The group responded in unison as I observed.
I’d heard it before, but what was Namaste?
Was it a religious thing?
Can I say it too?
OK, I’ll just do what they all do and try to blend in.
…and then there was Om.
That was different. Nice. We started slow. We rolled our shoulders. We closed our eyes. What was it about closing my eyes in public that made me feel so strange and paranoid? I peeked… just in case everyone else truly had their eyes open and were all staring at the newbie in class.
We were told to breathe.
Wasn’t I already breathing?
Focus on the breath.
Equal parts in and out.
We came to our hands and knees and stretched our hips.
Piece of cake.
This is probably a waste of my time
but I’m here
so let’s take advantage of the hour to relax.
My first “oh sh*t” moment came with a lunge.
Warrior 2 set my quads on fire.
OK, so getting here is ok, I can lunge, but now I’m holding said lunge.
For how long?
Forever, that’s how long.
Now I’m holding my arms out straight, parallel to the floor.
Too stubborn to use a block. Modifications? Naw! Not me!
I broke a sweat, felt the beads forming on my forehead…
watched them drip onto my mat.
This was actual work.
I started to clock watch.
It was difficult, but it wasn’t painful.
It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad.
Pockets of relief and bliss.
How on Earth is this woman holding up her entire body with just her hands with such ease?!
Lift my knees up into my armpits?
I had misjudged the ability of the teacher by tenfold. There was no way I was leaving in the middle of that class, but it was a challenge to stay. The challenge was completely unexpected. I changed my tune. Thank goodness for modifications! I was soon drenched, even more so than from an hour on the treadmill.
We were welcomed to sigh as we practiced. We were encouraged to inhale deeply through the nose and let out a loud exhale through the mouth. “Aaaahhhh.” I felt me eyebrows arch in surprise with the sound of exaggerated and collective breath.
“Alright, let’s have some fun tonight.”
Our teacher said, as if she were about to suggest something naughty.
“Let’s do Lion Pose.”
After seven and a half years of regular practice, I’ve only come across Lion Pose on 3 occasions, this being the first. For some, this could have been a make or break situation and I would have understood if they went running. If you don’t already know what Lion Pose is, I’m not going to explain it. I’m just going to show you…
Well, everyone else was doing it! Sometimes it’s good to be a follower. Instead of being weird it was funny. All the griping I’d been doing in my head from those damn lunges was forgotten and replaced with laughter.
Finally it was time for the cool down.
Back to the floor.
As the teacher guided us through corpse pose, she asked us to be present in the moment and read a short poem. We eventually wiggled our fingers and toes and made our way back to a seated position. Hands to our hearts. We ended that class the way we began.
Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.
Peace. Peace. Peace.
As we rolled up our mats and put our shoes on, each person I made eye contact with smiled. I left that class unsure of what happened. That was different.
Did I like that?
I think I loved that.
The next morning I woke up and realized muscles that had never been used, were screaming. I needed more yoga from my yoga, and thus the cycle began. I was more sore from that one class, than I had been at any time in the previous months I’d been regularly going to the gym.
So I went again, and again, and again….