Sunday, April 14, 2013

Yoga for a beginner

If you're like me, you have a working knowledge of yoga solely informed by funny critiques and news, such as a Craigslist posting advertising the sale of a used mat, those see-through Lululemon pants, and the meme-based video "S*** Yogis Say".

I thought it would be a laugh to try out yoga. And maybe relaxing. I was right. And oh-so-wrong.

I laughed at the thought of myself in Lululemon see-through pants as I put down my mat last Thursday night. Internal laughter at my shaky feet through the warm-ups. A little chuckle at the thought of the huge stained glass window Church patriarchs watching me sweat in yoga pants.

And then tears started spilling from my eyes -- not from chuckles, but from sudden, searing pain. Why? I had unconsciously moved into my first downward-facing dog ever, mimicking the much-more-limber ladies nearby. I made it to the pose, but my own body rebelled -- crying out with creaks and pops: "That. Isn't. Meant. To. Bend. That. Way."

At that moment -- and many after that -- I regretted my front-and-center placement in the class. I couldn't cry in a corner at the stunning pain flooding my hamstrings. I was right in front of the instructor, too proud to slink out the church's back doors.  But you better believe I thought about leaving my soggy mat soiled and alone.

But, you know, now that I think about it, more than self-respect kept me in place and moving during the class: the stretching and breathing -- you actually notice your body isn't some kind of thing that comes along with your brain. And the pain is kind of good after a while. Sort of.

The instructor at the Brooklyn Heights 1st Unitarian Church Community Yoga Class is a charmer, too. She said things about yoga that I have wanted to hear about exercise for a long time; things about receiving rather than giving all you got (I can do that the other days of the week on the running track); about getting centered and balanced; and then there's the touching-your-toes-thing-without-pain thing she could do that looks and sounds really cool.

After class, I knew I'd come back. I might not understand all the terminology or the poses or the philosophy behind it all, but I loved it. Sometimes something comes along exactly when you need it.

And a word to all: If I begin to use the word "Namaste" more than three times in a conversation, invest in Lululemon stock, or throw back wheat grass shots on a regular basis, you have my permission to taunt me.

1 comment:

  1. from my yoga experience, I learned that they're very learner-centered... the yoga teacher I had always showed modifications, and they always say just do as much as you can thus not forcing your body to do something that it's not ready to do YET... I share the same inner chuckle you had when I first started, nonetheless I too kept returning whenever I get a chance... I enjoyed the humor and the challenge... one of my most favorite pose is "child's pose" whenever I can't do downward facing dog or other pose, I just do child's pose... doing the balancing poses is graceful... practicing yoga inspired some stories and food-for-thought for me... good luck in your practice, and congrats on being a bride! :)