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Going to the Mat–Tale of a Yoga Newbie
My first yoga class transformed me into a clueless idiot in about two seconds. Actually, I felt like an idiot the moment I walked in the room when I spied all these folks decked out in fancy yoga duds and sitting quietly on their mats.
Either they were meditating or I had erroneously stumbled into a mime class. Since mimes scare the heck out of me, I chose to believe they were meditating. But once class began, I was yearning for those mimes.
“Tadasana. Adho Mukha Svanasana. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Bitilasana.”
Now I was sure I was in the wrong class since I had no idea what the instructors were saying. But that could have been because I was too busy comparing my hair, outfit, yoga mat color and pedicure to all the other students around me. I knew I should have polished my toenails.
When I did quiet my mind enough to listen, I heard the instructors say they would use both the Sanskrit and English names for the poses. Tadasana was simply Mountain Pose.
I still felt inferior. Small. I wondered what the Sanskrit terms for those words were. I knew I’d be exposed as a fraud, only pretending to know yoga since all I learned thus far had been from videos and books. At least I couldn’t screw up the Mountain Pose, one of the most basic.
I was wrong.
One of the instructors was making a beeline in my direction. It gave me the same panic in my gut that used to hit when I saw those flashing police lights in my rearview mirror.
They’re coming to get me. I’m doomed.
Instead of slapping me in handcuffs, the instructor instead gently repositioned my pelvis directly above my legs, moved my feet closer together on the mat closer together and helped me round my shoulders up and back to open my chest muscles and correct my posture.
She walked away without even giving me a ticket.
Then I noticed the instructors were correcting other people’s poses and no one was getting a ticket. I also began to notice that my chest had expanded to the capacity of a rooster. I could breathe about 52 times deeper. My feet were solid and stable.
Now the name made sense. I felt like a mighty mountain.
Downward-Facing Dog was next, a pose where you bend forward with your butt in the air to produce a large, kickable target. It could conceivably look like a dog stretching, provided the dog had been raised next to a nuclear waste dump.
I glanced around to compare my abilities. The rest of the class looked like stretching dogs, too. Except they were graceful Great Danes and show-quality shih tzus. Mine was a junkyard mutt.
Teacher once again was heading in my direction. This time I knew I’d go directly to yoga violation jail. Not so.
She instead made small adjustments that transformed my junkyard mutt into an adoptable mixed-breed. Once again my chest opened up, my breathing grew deeper and energy surged throughout my entire body.
By the end of class, my head was spinning, my body was tingling and my limbs were filled with some kind of strange vibration. I was sure it was the flu. Then I realized the feelings were awesome, albeit strange, and came with a term that described them.
“Are you feeling the yoga buzz?!”
The yoga buzz rocked. So did the confidence, flexibility, strength and friendships that started at that very first class. Continued yoga practice brought relaxation, relief from my chronic anxiety and depression, and some kick-butt core muscles. I can now balance on a moving subway train without even holding onto one of those strap things.
My first yoga class was a terrifying but necessary step that opened the door to a new way of thinking and living. Inner peace has become a bigger priority than fancy yoga duds or perfect pedicures – or at least it can be when I remember to do my yoga.
Thanks, Ryn, for sharing your yoga experience with the Mamapedia Community!