For years I’ve had people tell me I should do yoga. Everyone has said that I would really enjoy it, what with being an intellectual, slightly hippie-dippie lover of comparative religions and all things Indian. So many people have said it is just the thing for mind and body wellness. But what most of these people don’t understand is that I am not exactly athletic, nor am I in the best of shape, and I have never, ever been sporty. But then I got a flyer in the mail for adult evening classes run by my local township. For $50 they had a beginners yoga class that runs for 10 weeks. $5 a class for beginners yoga run by an adult evening school program? Sign me up!
Tuesday night was my first class. Classes are held in a gym at the local middle school. It was an exercise of a whole different kind winding my way through the institutional-strength hallways plastered with posters with such captions as “Bullying: Rise Above It!” and “Embrace Your Changing Body”. Ah middle school! I’m so glad I made it through in more or less one piece, although I did require therapy.
Once I made it to the gym and rolled out my newly-purchased, plastic-smelling yoga mat I sat back and watched people trickle in. And as I’d expected, I was the youngest one there (except one other woman roughly my age) … by about 20 years. Yes, community-offered adult evening school beginners yoga classes are populated mostly by people in their 50s and 60s, mostly women. However, as I was soon to discover, this is awesome!
Our instructor is a nurse in her 60s with a thick Philly accent. She’s awesome. I introduced myself and explained that I have never done yoga before, and she said not to worry, they would go slow. Once everyone in the class had arrived, and we’re talking 60 people here, she explained her background, her method of teaching the class, gave a pep-talk about doing your best even if it seems hard to get into and maintain some of the poses. And then she informed us that it was not uncommon for people to pass gas while doing yoga and that she always laughed at it.
I knew I had found the right yoga class for me to learn in. And let me tell you, it doesn’t matter how unbendy and uncoordinated I am, I am one of the most nimble people in that class. And I rule at some of the poses we learned.
The Corpse Pose: This pose involves lying on your back with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides, about a foot from your body. I ROCK a that pose! Things got a bit dicey when she added the “Now point your toes” instruction, but I managed to pull that off.
The Volcano Pose: In this posture you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold your arms above your head, palms facing and about two feet apart. This should also be called The Touchdown Pose, or for the cricket fans out there, SIX!
From the Volcano Pose we moved into Standing Mountain: Standing the same way you bring the palms of your hands together over your head, arms at your ears, take in a breath and stretch up. I am awesome at this pose!
From the Standing Mountain we moved into Half Moon Right and Half Moon Left. This involves arching to the right or the left while keeping your hands pointed and together over your head. I really felt that one.
The Butterfly Posture: This was a little trickier. It involves sitting on the floor with your back straight and your knees out, the soles of your feet touching. In theory you’re supposed to let your knees drop as far as they can towards the floor. Actually, I find this pose really useful because of all weird things I tend to hold tension in my hips.
From the Butterfly Posture we moved into The Clam. Okay, this is genuinely squinchy. It’s where you lean forward over your Butterfly Posture and try to touch your head to your feet. Streeeeetch!
She also had us do The Cobra Pose. This starts off innocuously enough by lying on your stomach with your palms on the floor under your shoulders. And then you arch your head back and lift your ribcage off the floor and support yourself with your arms. Uh, I wasn’t giggling anymore after that.
However, the counter-position to that is The Child, which involves sitting back on your heels with your legs under you while bending forward and stretching your hands out in front of you. This should also be called the We’re Not Worthy! Pose.
There were many more poses and stretches that we did. I thought I had never done yoga before, but I actually have done a lot of those poses as warm-ups for sports and theater. And of course the instructor let us know that these positions were the basis that we will be building off of during the course. She did throw in one sneaky little yoga pose called The Camel. For this pose you kneel with your knees shoulder-length apart and arch back to grab your heels. Yeah, I couldn’t do it. It’s very hard to do while laughing, by the way.
So there it was, my first yoga class. I survived. Five people farted. Everyone laughed. I met some charming older people who I will be glad to see every week. I went home and slept really well. And I woke up sore the next day. What??? I didn’t do that much, did I? Apparently I did. My muscles were so happy that I finally moved them around that they have spent the last two days telling me all about it. And I can’t wait for next week!