I tried a yoga class for the first time last night. I must admit I have been curious about yoga for most of my adult life. I've often been tempted to purchase a yoga mat and try it at home but then I remember: "The dogs will step on my head." At our service auction at church last week, I (apparently caught up in the festive spirit of the 60s-themed event) signed up for a "yoga party" to be held in January. A few days later, I decided to check out the yoga studio's website to see what I'd gotten myself into. The first introductory class is free - well, that's an offer I can't refuse. The site did a good job of making me feel like beginners would be not be shunned, so I decided to give it a try.
I have a few reasons why I've wanted to try yoga. For starters, the mind-body connection continues to elude me. I seem to suffer from what the Buddhists call "monkey mind." My brain is full of distracting worries and I do not know how to quiet them. Inner peace is a foreign concept to me. But, I truly, truly want to get there. Plus, yoga provides numerous physical benefits and since I'm expecting to need this body for at least a couple more decades* I should probably try to take care of it. I do belong to a gym and actually show up there fairly regularly, but I feel like maybe I need both - the calorie-burning workout at my gym and the strength and flexibility-building of the yoga session. Maybe yoga will also help me to be more self-aware, to be able to stop myself in those moments when I find myself standing in my kitchen with a handful of cookies (usually some variety that I don't even like all that much). I eat too much, I probably drink too much . . . yes, I have been relegated to the status of a walking Dave Matthews song.
I showed up at the studio about ten minutes before class, not really sure what to expect. The lights were low and I caught the vague scent of . . . I guess I'm not sure what. It was akin to the aromatherapy scents you find at a spa when you get a massage (and since I've had three massages in my adult life, I think you'll agree that I'm an expert on this). There was a sign on the desk that read "bare feet only after this point." I peeked around the corner and found the instructor, who helped me get set up with a mat and other equipment (a strap that is used for certain poses, a blanket, and a cork block that looked like an over-sized brick). I was relieved to see that it was a small class. I knew I'd feel self-conscious regardless, but if I have to look like a dork, I'd rather have as small an audience as possible.
As soft music played, I did my best to keep up through the series of yoga poses. The instructor called it "your practice" as in, "you may want to add inversions to your practice." I inherited bad hips from my mom (thanks again, mamacita!) and struggled with a bit of discomfort on a few of the poses, but mostly I did manage to get my chubby limbs into something vaguely close to what was expected. I noticed that I was the only one in the room who broke a sweat, but also knew that the other students had been coming for quite a while. Oh, and get this - it turns out that "downward dog" is a legit pose and not just some made-up thing you say when making fun of yoga. At the end, we laid on our mats and the instructor handed each of us a cooled eye pillow (filled with flax seeds, I believe?) There is a multi-syllable term for this meditative period, but I forget what it is. I really enjoyed it. I did feel, for just a second there, like I was truly at rest - physically and mentally.
After class, the instructor told me that I'd done well (and didn't even add "for your first time"). I definitely plan to go back. I also need one of those eye pillows, I think. The things I won't be able to see! Naked Barbies on the floor of my home, glitter from art projects all over the couch, a sliding glass door perpetually smeared with with dog slime. I may just strap that tiny pillow to my head full-time.
*My daughter apparently does not expect me to be around that much longer because she keeps starting sentences with, "Mama, when you're dead . . ." A few weeks ago it was, "Mama, when you're dead can I have your marrying dress?"