What do I wear? Do I need shoes? I don’t own a mat! Do I need a mat? Should I bring water to drink? Do I need to cleanse my aura before I arrive? These were just some of the questions I asked the yoga instructor/owner before attending my very first class yesterday so that I could come prepared (OK, I didn’t ask her the last question). Still, she probably thought I was some kind of nut-job but hey – I’m a planner, and we planners need to know these things so we can worry about other, more important things!
I cannot begin to tell you how nervous I was. Remember what it was like in high school when you had to give a speech in Public Speaking class? Yeah, it was that kind of nervous. In fact, the only reasons I didn’t back out was because I had pre-paid for a month of classes, and because I told all of you that I was taking Wednesday’s class. Turns out, money and the thought of disappointing others are great-big manipulators! lol
As I walked in, there was another beginner who was filling out some paperwork. Whew! I thought. I’m not the only newbie here! While Liz, who was our instructor (as well as the owner) was checking the other gals in, her mother Tina led me to a series of cubbyholes where I was to put my shoes. She then led me into the studio which was dimly lit, with mirrors on one end of the room. Soothing music was being played in the background. Along one wall were a series of mats, bolsters, blocks and long, black straps. What on earth do we need straps for? Just what kind of class is this? I thought, as I quickly grabbed the closest mat and went to pick out a spot. I unrolled my mat in the center of the room, sat down, and waited. Soon, the room was filled with about 10 students, ranging in ages from late 20’s to late 50’s.
I’m going to stop here for a second and tell you that I had three major reasons for deciding to take yoga classes. First, I wanted to reduce my anxiety and bring a sense of calm to my life. Second, I wanted to strengthen my lower back which as most of you know has been giving me grief for years. And third, I wanted to meet new people. Now that my first class is over, I should mention something I now know: if you’re looking to socialize – yoga class isn’t the kind of place where people are chatty. As people filed into the studio, I looked around to make eye contact with several students and even attempted to make a little small talk but quickly realized that everyone was busy preparing their minds and bodies for the class and didn’t want to be disturbed. Some people started stretching, while a few others sat on their mats cross-legged with their eyes closed, and even a couple of people laid on their backs while listening to the music overhead. I probably should have expected this, but honestly, I had no idea what to expect so I have to plead ignorance on this one. I commenced with stretching and tried to look like I knew what I was doing.
The first 20 minutes of class consisted of learning about the proper way to breathe, the proper way to sit and the proper way of holding poses. It was at that time I started thinking to myself, ‘Why am I paying for this? I could get a DVD and do this at home.’
It wasn’t until I was over half way through class before I started truly noticing the benefits of being in a class environment. The room oozed with relaxation because of the lighting, the calming voice of the instructor and the soothing music. While focusing on my breathing and holding my poses, somewhere within that timeframe the outside world just disappeared.
The last 5 minutes of class we were instructed to lay on our backs with our eyes closed. Liz lowered the lights to near darkness and encouraged us to focus on complete relaxation, beginning with the tip of the head all the way down to our feet. It was here, she said, that we would reap all of the benefits of that day’s class. We’d walk out feeling relaxed yet energized. She was right. When I left class I felt calm and focused, and what’s remarkable is, that feeling lasted for hours.
I also realized that I was wrong, too. For me personally, I’d never have that kind of benefit by doing yoga at home. In class I didn’t have the dogs begging for attention; there was no phone ringing; no distracting thoughts like, I should really be doing laundry instead; no anticipation of a disruption. Within that studio was my time. For me alone.
So there you have it. Comfort Zone Challenge Operation Yoga was a success. In fact, I signed up for another class this evening called Gentle Yoga. I was told that as a beginner I would fit right in.
And before I end today…a BIG thanks to all of you for your encouragement in helping me see this challenge through. Your words are carefully read and reflected on when they appear in the comments section of my posts, and I want you to know that your support really helped me make that first step through the door.