A little while ago I went to my first yoga class. I know that sounds odd given that I am a forty nine year old woman living in Vancouver. It’s practically unheard of really. I came from the school of “if I’m not sweating and breathing really hard it probably isn’t worth it” but my physiotherapist and every person I know had told me that it would help with my stiff and sore muscles. I also realized that I had an entire drawer full of yoga wear and that I never actually wore it to do yoga. So I agreed to meet my friend at the local studio and signed up for my first Hatha class.
Before the class my friend helped me pick out the appropriate props for the class. Two soft blocks, a long woven strap and a blanket. Yes, a blanket. I was encourage that a nap could be in my near future. At first I thought I had made a bit of a mistake. I gather that in the first few minutes of the class you are supposed to expel all the bad energy out of your body with a few big exhales. Some people it seems take this quite to heart and exhale rather loudly. Then came the ohm. Again a little loud and more boisterous than I was prepared for. I suppressed a small giggle that was building and inhaled through the nose and out through the mouth. My friend had assured me that most people had their eyes closed during the class so if I wasn’t sure of a pose I could watch somebody who did. Very good advice as I adjusted my toes for the first downward dog.
Hatha yoga consists of asanas, or poses, that you move through to stretch and strengthen your muscles. It is also designed to reduce stress. The instructor encouraged us to use the time in class to think about whatever it was that we were working on in our life. Patience, kindness, strength or softness? Really? All I could think of was “don’t fall over”. Things started out well and my confidence grew. The instructor was great and led us from one pose to another with quiet prompts. As the hour progressed the poses became more difficult and my limbs began to shake a bit. Hoping that everybody still had their eyes closed I soldiered on. At some point I suddenly realized that I was stretching, posing and breathing. Ohm……
I had no idea how much time had passed but the instructor was telling us to lie on our backs with our arms to our sides and breathe deeply. She turned the temperature down in the studio and I noticed some people pulling their blankets up over themselves. Ah, nap time. I lay down and tried to concentrate on my own breathing rather than that of the lady beside me. Easier said than done as her breathing was quite loud. In through the nose out through the mouth. And then it was over. I sat up and realized that I was indeed fully relaxed. That kind of relaxed I typically feel after a good massage. But also a bit sore. As a person who hadn’t thought that yoga would be “hard” enough, I was pleasantly fatigued.
As we stepped out into the sunshine my friend ask me “so, how was it?”. I thought about it for a moment and replied. “Great”. Not what I expected but exactly what I needed. Just the right balance between relaxation and strength. Just what I needed to get on track with finding the best things in life.