Fitness Friday – Yoga

I decided this week to take a yoga class. One of the suggestions I received last week was to go to a class and review it (I figured the first suggestion I took should be from my biggest fan). Before I review the class, there are two common misconceptions about yoga that I would like to mention:

  1. Yoga is for extremely flexible people. You have to be able to twist yourself up into a pretzel and stand on your head while holding your legs in the Indian style position. If you can’t do that, then you can’t do yoga.
  2. Yoga is just stretching. It’s easy and there isn’t a lot of strength or muscle building involved.

These are both ridiculous.

The first time I did yoga I was ten years old. It was the first time in my life that I was sore. My ab muscles were so tight that I thought I had a stomach ache. I stayed home from school, convinced that I was sick. My point? Yoga can and will strengthen and build muscle.
As for flexibility, I would say mine is average. I can’t do a headstand or a split but I can touch my toes.  The great thing about yoga is that everyone can do the poses as easily or as challenging as they want. Yoga is not competitive. The only people in the class that matter are the instructor and you.

I have been to Blue Dog Yoga before (because the instructor happens to date my dad) but I’ve never taken a yoga class during a “fit” time of my life. The class started at 5:30pm. I brought a change of clothes and my yoga mat with me so I wouldn’t have to go home. At a quarter to five I realized that I packed a tank top to work out in. I hadn’t shaved my armpits in God knows how long and I did not want to spend the whole class wondering if people thought I was participating in “No Shave November.” I rushed home (very un-yoga like), changed, shaved, and sped over to the class.

I walked in the door and was greeted by the smell of essential oils. All of the lights were dimmed and there was soft meditation music playing in the background. It was like stepping into a spa. I walked down the hallway to the yoga studio and I instantly panicked; there was a man in the class. I’ve never liked the idea of taking yoga with men. There’s something about all the bending and downward facing dog that makes it seem inappropriate. It was too late to make an exit; he had noticed me and politely nodded. I put my mat on the other side of the room, as far away as possible.

I have never taken a rejuvenating class before. It involved a lot of self-massage (again yoga can seem very inappropriate) and stretching.  To my surprise, this is exactly what I needed. It felt great after months of weight lifting and hardcore cardio videos to do intense stretching. Within fifteen minutes I had forgotten about everyone in the class, including the man. Lisa can verbally describe each stretch and position so well that you rarely have to open your eyes. However, I opened them when we used tennis balls to rub our own backs (I couldn’t explain this if I tried).

Shavasana is my favorite part. This is the end of class, when you lay on your back and have essential oils put on your hands (or on a cloth on your face) and meditate. Lisa walked us through Shavasana, instead of having a silent meditation. I’m glad she did because my mind could not stay focused. Her instruction to take deep breaths and stay in the moment helped me to not think about work or bills. It didn’t stop me from wondering how close my feet were to the girls head in front of me though. The soft bell rang three times and we all sat up. She directed us through our final stretches. At one point she said “now tilt the corners of your mouth up, creating a soft smile.” Only Lisa can make smiling sound like a yoga pose. I’m glad she did, I needed the lift.

Afterwards, there was this wonderful sense of calm, similar to how you feel when you get a massage. I was relaxed. I was in a meditative state. All was right with the world. I arrived home. I walked to my door while carrying a travel mug and one of my cats ran under my feet. I dropped the mug, it smashed on the floor of the carport and coffee went flying onto my workout pants, all over my leg and down into my shoe. Just like that, I was pulled back to reality.

Thank you Lisa and Blue Dog Yoga! I will be back.

If you are one of those people that thinks yoga would be too easy or too hard for you, I beg you to give it a try. I can guarantee you will be surprised!

As for other updates, I’m up to 110lbs for dumbbell squats, 80lb dumbbell bench press and THIRTY push-ups!!!!!!

Thank you to everyone who gave me ideas last week. You will be seeing more and more of them show up in the blog. Hopefully the other posts will have photos. There are a lot of different settings where I will pull out my phone and take a selfie but yoga class isn’t one of them.

Until next time!