I'm about to draw parallels between comedian Louis C.K., my favorite Victorian character Jane Eyre, our Saturday Hatha Star yoga class, and camels. Hold on...Read More
Yoga Is Always There For You
It’s been about five years since I started practicing yoga on a somewhat regular basis. As much as I enjoy the act of doing yoga and the after-effects, my practice goes in waves. When it’s obvious that I really need it—either from my stress level or how my body feels—it’s not too hard to commit to a schedule. But I still have resistance to the idea sometimes. One of the truly lovely things about yoga and meditation is that they’re always there, waiting for you. I’m in a phase right now where my daily meditation and every-few-days yoga practices feel especially rejuvenating and delicious. One of the things I’ve learned is that although the history and practice of yoga deserves respect and a certain level of seriousness, actually doing yoga doesn’t need to be fraught, fussy, or intimidating. This post is from the first time I went to a yoga class, and it’s pretty funny.
I hope you like it and that it inspires you to connect (or reconnect) with a yoga practice.
Yesterday, I went to my very first yoga class. Ever.
I know that probably sounds kind of shocking, but (1) anytime I’ve tried yoga, it’s been at home with a DVD and (2) I tend to be put off by the (perceived) grooviness, so I’ve avoided it. Fair or not, I had a preconception about the music, the potential for incense, the possibility of overly-hairy or overly-smelly classmates, and I have limited time for training. Given a choice, I’d much rather spend an hour listening to some butt-shakin’ music and throwing around some heavy things.
But I’m trying to find a new balance in my life.
I’m meditating every day. The TV is off. I’ve completely eliminated caffeine. I’m remembering to breathe in and out through my nose when life throws a curveball. And I recently read some articles on how yoga can help with stress and adrenal fatigue.
Yoga is the next step on my path to becoming a lean, centered superhero.
My Favorite Part Was The Grooviest Part
I am a big ol’ hypocrite because my favorite part of the lunchtime Vinyasa class was at the end, when we sat with our eyes closed, held our hands in prayer position (a.k.a., Anjali Mudra), and gently touched them to our heads, our lips, and our hearts. It was really beautiful. DAMN IT!
Also, I was kinda digging on the relaxing music. Double damn it!
So, there you have it. I’m a convert. Some observations from my yoga mat:
1. I got really sweaty.
I knew I would get warm, but I thoroughly underestimated how much I was going to sweat. I WAS DRENCHED. Halfway through the class, my hair was completely soaked and all of my makeup had been washed off, except two wide swathes of black eyeliner and the remnants of my mascara, which had migrated from on my lashes to under my eyes.
2. I could do ‘happy baby pose’ all day long.
After doing about a million Downward Dog to Cobra—with a bunch of challenging static poses in between—we did lovely things like holding our knees into our chests and Happy Baby, which is now my favorite way to lie on the floor. It’s ridiculously comfortable. Go ahead, try it… I’ll wait.
3. I can make an ocean sound when I breathe in and out through my nose.
Our first move was to lie on the floor and become aware of our breathing: in through the nose and out through the nose. We practiced creating a pause at the end of both the inhale and exhale. Love that! Plus, it sounds like waves rolling in and out if you do it right. Again, I wholeheartedly encourage you to try it. No equipment necessary!
4. CrossFit has really prepared me for some yoga poses. CrossFit has really not prepared me for some yoga poses.
If asked, I would assert that I have excellent balance and good core strength. Yesterday showed me I have OK balance and some core strength. This is going to be an excellent complement to my CrossFit WODs and strength training. Plus, it’s the kind of thing you can do for your entire life and still learn stuff.
5. I’m even more impressed with Estelle Parsons.
Way back in July 2008, I wrote about Estelle Parsons and her enviable yoga handstand. At the time, she’d been practicing yoga for 30 years (!) and was also swimming and lifting weights to condition herself for a demanding stage role. She’s now 84 years old and still working in plays on Broadway. Presumably, she’s still kicking my ass in the free-standing handstand department, too.
Do you yoga?
Are you a yoga person? Share a story or two in the comments. I’d love to hear your experiences, good or bad. (And a special shout-out of love to my pal Stacey for going with me to yoga class. I don’t know if she knew it, but I felt really awkward and nerd-rific… it helped so much to have a friend in the room.)