Namaste, y'all! Happy Friday!
Today I made it to the gym at 6:20 a.m.; this week I was right on time for the 6:30 hatha yoga class at the gym. It was my first; all I really knew about yoga going in is that it's good for flexibility and that there's something called a "downward dog" involved. (In other words, I am pretty much totally ignorant about it.) But from the brief bit I've read a bit about it, there are many levels to yoga. This being a gym class, though, the emphasis was mostly on the physical practice, rather than the other aspects of the practice. (For example, in the class I took, maybe about 5 minutes at the start and 2-3 minutes at the end were spent on the breathing aspect, no meditation or other instruction.)
The instructor took some time at the beginning to get me orientated: helped with equipment (mat! blocks! straps! blankets! oh my!), suggested a place to sit near one of the regulars, and said to feel free to ask if I needed alternatives to the various poses. During class, he was very good about explaining what we were going for in the various positions, and he took time to circle the room, checking how everyone was doing and correcting form.
We started with a sitting position called the "hero pose," and I felt less than heroic. My ankles protested mightily, and I thought to myself, Oh good heavens, this is only the *first* pose??? (Note to self: Next time, ask instructor before class for a variation for making this work better for me. During the peaceful, starting chant/invocation didn't feel like the right time.)
The rest of the class involved assuming and holding a variety of poses (asanas), and I found that I was really using my muscles as well as stretching them. (And good heavens, have I been neglecting the flexibility!) I don't know all of the terminology, so I can't really describe it in a lot of detail, but I felt interested and challenged by the class and look forward to learning more. (Such as: it's "downward facing dog," and this pose is my new friend.) The most difficult items for me were the inverted poses: I felt a bit fearful of falling on my head when we walked up the wall with our feet (what??? smudge those nice, clean mirrors?). I was not able to do the handstand, although the instructor encouraged us to "play with it" and showed some intermediate poses if we couldn't do the full handstand. (Hey, I also learned why people wear those tightly-fitted tank tops to yoga class. Thank goodness everyone else was busy with their own poses! Note to self: Wear something under the t-shirt that looks less obviously like girly underthings.) I also felt the burn on the pose where you kneel and put your hips up to the wall, then bend backwards. We did that several times, and oooo, that was a toughie! I wasn't the only one grimacing and gritting my teeth (and trying to breathe properly and not gasp), so that was encouraging.
After class, the gal next to me and I chatted a bit. (The yoga people seemed much more interactive with each other than my BodyPump classmates...I get the impression that there are a lot of regulars.) She's been practicing for a year and a half, and she said that our instructor was great because he takes the time to make sure everyone is in proper alignment. She mentioned other good instructors, and I said this was the only class I could take, with my schedule. "You can't just do it once a week," she chuckled, and we talked home practice and DVDs. Hmmm...where to fit *this* in?, I wondered to myself. Will I be a regular on Fridays? I may need to try another week (when our schedule has resumed its normal craziness) to be sure.
Your turn! Do you practice yoga? Do you have any favorite resources (books, DVDs, web sites) that you go to? (The links in this article are from my 5 minutes of Googling, I'm a total yoga newbie.)
P.S. Here's a fun link: About.com's "What's Your Yoga Type?" I'm definitely mellow, so I guess I was in the right place.
P.P.S. Oh yeah, my other adventure, with Mary Lou! Today I was down 1.5 pound from my starting weight (slightly different clothes...the digital scale said I'm up .2 lb today), got the applause, and Mary Lou suggested that I try a combo of sparkling water and fruit juice instead of soda. Good idea, but for now, I think I'll stick to my chia powder and green tea..."slimy, yet satisfying!" as Timon and Pumba would say.