So like I said the other day: I am going to try one new thing a month. This month’s new thing happened to be yoga.
I was asked by a friend of mine to attend a free yoga class yesterday, but my work schedule didn’t allow for it. The idea sounded good though, so I opted to sign up for one of the free yoga classes at my gym. This is actually the first class that I’ve ever taken (and they offer several free ones) after being at this gym for a year now. The person who signed me up for it said, “Way to go, trying something new in the new year!”
So tonight was my first yoga class. I was very nervous going into it since I didn’t know what to expect. I haven’t really done a lot of yoga. I know a couple of poses simply because of their benefits to different areas of the body that I’ve had trouble with. I’ve read a little bit on different running websites about poses that are supposed to help runners as well. I’ve never really tried many poses though, so I was going in pretty blind.
I arrived for the class about 15 minutes early and introduced myself to the instructor and told her that I was new and had never really done yoga before. She advised me not to sit at the front of the class (where I was incidentally placing my mat at that very moment) and also told me a few other things like how she uses a lot of contemporary music, that it’s pretty cardiovascular, that I would want a towel, etc. The most important thing she said to me though was that she wanted me to focus on my breath, despite whether I could keep up with the class. That little lesson didn’t really kick in until about halfway through.
After talking to the instructor, I laid out my mat at the back of the class and followed suit with others who were taking off their shoes, stretching, etc. I got a towel, drank some water, and waited anxiously. Once everyone was settled, it was right into the poses. We started with a sun salutation (much like you can see here). I realized quickly that it was going to be a lot harder than I expected. Things moved a lot faster and I found myself pretty distracted with trying to keep up and not focusing on what I was actually doing. The other distraction was the sweat. Ha! I had not expected to sweat so very badly. My feet and hands felt like they were going to slip off the mat, especially when the instructor came by and tried to move my legs into a better form. Again, something I had not anticipated. Isn’t yoga about relaxing and stretching or something like that?
As things progressed, I recognized more poses and got more comfortable with making modifications so that I could do some of them. SO MANY DOWNWARD DOGS! I also started to get focused on my breath at some point and started to actually understand what the instructor had been getting at and how I could do it without getting so distracted with keeping up. By the time that we were winding down, I was feeling pretty awesome and almost like I was getting the hang of some of it.
The class ended in corpse pose, the lights turned out, and the instructor coming around to each of us with a lavendar lotion that she massaged into the backs of our neck, shoulders and then did some crazy thing around our eyes and head. I have no idea if that’s a normal practice in yoga classes, but it was probably one of my favorite parts.
(Another favorite part? The music. She wasn’t kidding about contemporary. I wasn’t always paying a lot of attention, but when I did there was some Florence + and the Machine, Fleetwood Mac, etc. So good!)
After the class, I felt awesome. I talked again to the instructor who asked how I liked it. I said I would definitely be back. She advised that I do some work at home and definitely get down the sun salutation. Good advice, as I think if I could get into it and focused by doing things I knew, I would be in the right mindset from the start and not so worried most of the way through.
So, my first attempt at something new was decidedly awesome. I think yoga is going to become a regular thing if it has me feeling this good afterwards. I am already planning to sign up for next week’s class and I’ve invested in some handy yoga socks so maybe I won’t feel like I’m going to slip and fall off the mat when I start to sweat next time. If you have any other handy yoga tips or advice, I would love to hear them, especially about how best to incorporate it into an already pretty full exercise routine.