So we have all seen friends post photos on Instagram of them doing headstands on the beach or in the Grand Canyon. This has then caused you to pursue the art of yoga. You want to see what the craze is all about. I mean, how hard can it be, right? Just holding poses and listening to your breathing. Well what they did not tell you was: THIS IS HARD. Here’s a list of things you will find to be true with your first yoga class.
- The Fellow Yoga-ers
When you pull up to the yoga studio, you get a quick glance of the other people going inside while you mentally prepare yourself. This is when you first start to reevaluate your idea of starting yoga. The people strut in, chins held high, tight yoga pants and tank tops revealing their overly toned bodies, and their professionally rolled yoga mat under their arm. Then you get out of the car in tight-ish yoga pants, a t-shirt and no mat. Thank God you remembered water, right?
- The Price
When you enter the studio, you walk up to the counter where a very kind person welcomes your warmly. You have to pay for a single class. Then they ask you about a yoga mat, which you need to rent. Then they ask about renting a towel. You pause to answer but slyly look around at everyone else and decide to rent one of those, too. GOOD DECISION, especially if you are taking a hot yoga class. This all adds up and about $20 later you are ready for the class to start.
- The Clothing
You go to put your extra belongings in a cubby before entering the yoga room. While you do this, you slowly, inconspicuously size up the rest of the people going into the room. The attire is in a whole fashion category of its own. And you are way out of style. The brighter and more eccentric the pattern is on the yoga pants, the better you are. The tighter the tank top, the more professional you are. Just a sports bra? You’re a yoga-goddess.
- The Class
So you have now checked everyone out and realized what you are up against. As you walk into the yoga room, you get blasted with a wave of heat hotter than the dessert (for hot yoga people only). People have rolled their mats out in a perfect pattern on the floor as close to the front as possible, so you strategically place yours toward the back.
- The Stretching
It makes sense to stretch before starting an athletic event, so you figure you will casually stretch before yoga. You look around and see people in strange yet intense poses, and then you see some just laying on their backs, eyes closed. How the heck is that stretching? What you don’t know is that the pose actually brings you centered and focused on your muscles. So you decide to just lay down and hope for the best.
- The Lingo
Now is the big moment: the instructor has begun class, set the calming music, and starts describing poses in a peaceful tone. You hear words and see movement but you have no idea what is happening. You try to copy the people around you but a lot of the poses require your head down, so instead you end up doing a strange looking version of everything with a kink in your neck. You hear strange things like: “uttanasana” and “urdha mukha svanasana” and “pigeon pose” or “upward facing dog”. Don’t panic, just keep moving and breathing, you will make it.
- The Work
You start to rethink your original thought that this was just a stretching sport. You also start to rethink your athleticism. You are beginning to feel really weak and pathetic. The strength and core it takes to hold a pose is definitely more extreme than just running on a treadmill. You feel muscles that you did not know you had. Or you feel muscles being used more strenuously than you have used them before. You contort your limbs into odd shapes and feel stretches that you have never felt before. It’s magical, really. And just a little painful.
- The Fellow Yoga-ers (again)
As you get a grip on your physicality, you feel venturous enough to take a quick sweep of the room. You thought yoga was a girl thing but you start to notice how many men are in that class. Cheers to you, fellows! So much for not having to worry how you look. Some even practice yoga without a shirt, sweat glistening off their muscular bodies. Now you have to worry about falling over from the distractions. Great. You also notice middle aged people in the class, who are doing way better than you are at your ripe age of early twenties. How embarrassing.
- The Last Pose
This pose is literally translated to “corpse pose” and you lie on your back, feet out, palms facing up and eyes closed. Now you understand those who were laying like this at the beginning of class. This is your final resting pose to help clear your mind and get you prepared to face to world again. It’s only now that you realize how much stress was relieved in this 60-75min class. You start to feel very at ease and loose, like a limp noodle. More like a limp noodles that’s high. You feel strangely calm, and your body is still in one piece. This is fantastic.
- The Car Ride Home
You walk out to your car slowly and dazed, as if you just witnessed something beautiful. You feel a strange peacefulness inside of you, one that even makes you unable to crack jokes about how you feel like a high hippie. You feel nothing. Or everything. But it is okay. You keep your radio off and speak in only whispers for a good while after.
And then you go back to yoga over and over… and over. This strength-centered, calming, total body practice has got its grips around you. Now it all makes sense.
If you have not tried yoga yet, read this and prepare yourself. It will make the transition easier. These are real experiences I have had, learn from me, take my knowledge, and most of all…STRETCH.