Yoga Newbie

Confession: I ran a half marathon on October 9, and I have run exactly twice since then for a grand total of 6 miles.  Though I run, I still don’t enjoy it.  And unless I have a race I’m training for I tend to not do it often.

I have good excuses for not running.  (Well, *I* think they’re good.)  They include being sick, my back acting up, and it suddenly becoming winter – including 8 inch snowstorms, coldness, and darkness.  And I’m just not hardcore enough to run in the dark.  In 32 degrees.  On ice.

A friend of mine with back pain (including surgeries) swears by Core Power Yoga.  Since there’s a few locations in my area and they offer one week free to new students and I love free stuff,  I decided to go claim that prize.

The only things I knew about yoga – other than that it can help back pain – are that it involves a lot of stretching and super comfortable pants.  Having done years of dance when I was younger, I wasn’t sure how stretching could be considered a workout.

My first ever yoga class was yoga 2.  Yep, a harder one; that may have been dumb but it was the best time for my schedule!  As I walked into the room I understood for the first time a major contributing factor for sweating during yoga: it’s HOT in there!  As I was getting checked in, the instructor mentioned that they keep things about 95 degrees.  Yikes!  This wasn’t even a “hot yoga” class like I hear Katie talking about, and this temperate-temps-loving Colorado chick was not so thrilled.

The room was packed and I was very intimidated.  Others spritzed their mats with water bottles (isn’t your sweat going to lubricate it enough?) and had fancy mat-sized towels (smart! I can get behind that traction idea).

The instructor started calling out poses and I was grateful that the room was so packed because I had no idea what any of them were but I could just look at the other people – who clearly were not novices like me.

I learned that while there is a lot of stretching and balance in yoga there’s also isometrics involved, that is, holding a static pose that engages your muscles.  Like if you were to hold a weight motionless at arm’s length.  Not easy!

I found that I liked the breathing rhythm.  Inhale to this pose, exhale to another, inhale to a third.  It was also pretty effective to clear my mind; I often wish my thoughts would just shut up and it was a treat to have them do so.  And when we were called back to focus on the spirit, I spent that time saying a little prayer to God.

The only thing I didn’t like was the HEAT.  How do those hot yoga people do it?  They must all hail from warmer climes.

Always one to take full advantage of freebies, I went back five more times for my free week.  (Yup, every day but one!)  That first class must have been a thermostat anomaly, though, because as I went back for more yoga 2 and yoga 1.5 classes they were each probably ten degrees cooler.  It’s crazy when *I* think of 85 degrees as cool.  This place must have messed with my internal thermometer.

One thing the class reinforced was that I have ZERO upper body strength.  Several classes called out the “crow” pose (below) and it was all I could do to keep my arms from collapsing while me feet stayed on the floor.  I was envious of those around me all managing to get their feet at least an inch off the mat.

The class also let me know that running has sapped a bit of my flexibility.  Stretches I used to do easily were now a bit more challenging.

Overall, I found yoga intriguing.  Easy?  No.  But hard?  Not really – well, not like running a half marathon.  Was I awesome at it?  Definitely not.  I can see how it takes a lot of practice and strength to master.  I have a lot of respect now for the instructors and students.

Something that has never come naturally to me is athletics.  Running and this yoga experience have opened my eyes to another world.  I’ve been learning more (even at the ripe age of 30!) that God has given us all different gifts and talents, and we need to celebrate those that are different from our own.

I’m not sure if yoga will become a regular part of my life.  The instructors were pretty awesome, but the cheapest class (unless you get one of the unlimited packages) is more than a movie ticket.  But it might become an occasional treat.  🙂

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