After @TheFrankFlyer came home from his first ever yoga class a few weeks ago, enthusiastically describing how great it was, I considered joining him to discover what exactly was so wonderful.
Last night was the first Wednesday I was both free and not suffering from a horrific cough and the sweats, so we pootled along to the 8pm class in a nearby studio. I have to say I was a little nervous. Not unlike visiting a country for the first time, I wondered what kind of mistakes I’d make and just how many people there would judge my obvious ineptitude.
I also worried about clothing and equipment, but @TheFrankFlyer explained that I should just wear something comfortable and that everything else would be supplied. Still, on the ten-minute walk to the yoga studio, I wondered just how bad an impact I could make on the equilibrium and calm of a pre-existing yoga class…
I needn’t have wondered. Firstly, the class was very small – there were only seven of us in the spacious studio, which was a relief. Everybody seemed friendly. Secondly, the teacher was amazing. So welcoming and friendly. We had time for a quick chat before the class, so she could check in with me and ask about injuries etc.
I replied that I had nothing to worry about except hamstrings that are like cables of steel (from the running, I expect) and a distinct lack of muscles where my abs should be. She laughed and said that if everyone was flexible, there’d be no need to come to a yoga class.
We eased into it. She started off in a very gentle way, explaining that we newcomers (the guy next to me was new, too) could do just as much as we felt comfortable doing – and to use the various cork bricks available if needed. This bit puzzled me, as I didn’t see how they could be in any way helpful. Boy, was I wrong!
Within minutes, I was a lot warmer and on the verge of perspiring. What? Wasn’t yoga supposed to be relaxing?! I’d say the overall impact of the class was a sense of calm and relaxation, but on the way to that, I had quite the workout – discovering muscles I didn’t know existed.
My lack of abs became very apparent when lying on my back and bringing my knees to my chest. Hands-free. We then had to ‘wiggle’ our knees in a circle, slowly. Yes, there was a formal name for this, but I’ll remember it as the absent-ab knee wiggle.
On the other hand, I discovered that my back is reasonably flexible and I can twist at the waist like a pro. Plus, my balance on one leg is surprisingly steady.
All of the various moves were explained slowly and helpfully, so I could ease into it. But with only 30 minutes gone, I felt like I was in the middle of a fairly tough workout. But an enjoyable one. Her calm and helpful approach took all the stress out of getting things wrong.
The cork bricks? Ah yes. Mine came in handy when it became very clear that there was no way I was going to be able to touch my tose from a standing position – or any position, frankly. So the brick sat between my legs, giving me something to touch and then lean on, a good four inches higher than floor level.
However… after another ten minutes, I was able to touch my feet! What is this witchcraft? Some amazing stretches and breathing exercises found me in a position I haven’t been able to attain since I was about ten years old.
The class was only supposed to be an hour long, but she added on another fifteen minutes of guided relaxation at the end. I left the class feeling great. I could sense I’d had a workout, but I also felt relaxed and calm from the session at the very end.
I’ll definitely be going back next Wednesday. And the pay-per-use option is great for me, owing to the amount of travel I do. I hate signing up for things and having to waste half the classes. I’m sold and hoe to continue learning with her.
So, now I do yoga.