My legs hurt today- not the normal hurt… this is different. There are muscles on the sides of my legs, muscles I wasn’t aware I had. They ache. My hamstrings are burning too, not the beefy main muscles, but the stands that lay underneath. And the muscles on the front of my shins are screaming.
My sister has been begging me to take yoga for years now. “It will help with your anxiety,” she keeps telling me. I even got a yoga mat from her for my birthday last year. My sister loves me.
I attended my first yoga class three weeks ago. There were four of us –the instructor, two women, and another gentleman. “I’m a beginner, should I be in this class?” “You’ll be just fine,” the instructor assured me.
I rolled out my yoga mat for the first time; and watched as my classmates did the same. I wasn’t sure what to do next, so I glanced at the instructor- she was sitting with her legs crossed. Trying to imitate her, I drew one leg over the other and immediately developed an embarrassingly painful Charlie-horse. I threw my legs out in front of me to help relieve stinging- thankfully no one noticed. The two women that sat across from me had their legs folded over one another- their spines were perfectly straight.
We began with stretching exercises- shoulders first, then the spine. These movements weren’t difficult- enjoyable actually. After the warm up was over, the real work began. We were instructed to bend forward, hands to the mat. “Your knees can be slightly bent in this position…” Mine were bent at a severe angle, but my hands were on the mat. I looked over my shoulder at my fellow students and instructor- their postures were beautiful, and seemed effortless. During the hour we did many poses- downward dog, child’s pose (my favorite thus far), half-lotus, warrior, tree-pose (is this really an intro pose? I kept losing my balance), and triangle.
Admittedly, I don’t remember much about that first class- I was too busy trying to keep up. When the hour was over I was relieved… and tired. The biggest error I made during that first few sessions was not paying attention to my breathing. Each pose coincides with a breath- these breaths are an integral part of the postures and equally important. I’ve learned that synchronizing breaths with poses is essential to being a successful and effective Yoga practitioner.
My third yoga class was much different from the first. I paid careful attention to form and movement- I released a breath with each pose. My mind wandered only a few times- other than that I was totally present. I’m finding that’s my favorite part of yoga thus far-escaping stress; letting go of the day and existing in your body at that particular moment.
I’ve been to four classes so far. Each week I get a little more proficient, but am very aware that I have only begun to understand the philosophical practice of Yoga.
In the weeks to come I will continue to practice yoga. I will be present, work diligently, and try not to hit my head. This is the beginning of a very important journey- one that will provide many amazing and exciting discoveries.