A month and a half ago, I took my first yoga class. My experience only solidified my suspicion that yoga and its tree-hugging ways simply were not for me. I polled my yogi friends, and they all agreed that I needed to try more than a couple of classes to really figure out if I like it or not. I (somehow? WHY?) agreed to taking two yoga classes a week for a month.
I sweated and grumbled my way through eight classes in heated rooms – two hot vinyasa classes, five Bikram classes, and then back to hot vinyasa. After each class, I went home looking like a drowned rat, and feeling completely out of shape and totally inflexible.
Class number nine – my very last class. The back row was packed when I walked in, so I had to put my mat in the front row (hnnnghhh) next to the mirrors (groannnn). Something strange and totally magical happened in that class. The flow started to make sense. Okay, downward dog to plank to that weird lower myself like a push-up thing then I’m pretending to be a snake or something and then I stand back up into downward dog. (Sidenote: lolololol @ the thought of downward dog being a “resting position.”)
I left class no. 9 feeling strangely.. strong and healthy and revived. Wait, am I smiling? Am I turning into a masochist, because my muscles hurt but that was kind of fun.
At the end of my one month challenge, I realized that Bikram was totally not for me, but maybe I could get into these hot vinyasa classes. Maybe. I don’t know. A friend asked me if I noticed any changes in my body over the last month, and after staring at her for a solid thirteen seconds, I was realized that yeah! I did.
In one month of yoga, I noticed that:
1) I’ve stayed solidly at my “lower weight.” For me (and I’m guessing a lot of you), my body generally stays within a range. If I work hard, I can get it to the lower portion of that range, but usually I can’t stay there for long. I’ve stayed at my lower weight without any fluctuating since the beginning of October, so that’s definitely a win in my book.
2) I can’t touch my toes, but I’m more flexible than I was.
3) My Diet Coke consumption has dwindled. Something about supposedly sweating out toxins makes me realize that putting Diet Coke into my body is kind of lame, even though omggg you know how I feel about Diet Coke.
4) Mentally speaking, it’s been a nice break. It’s an hour where I’m not accessible to the outside world. There are no emails. There is no work. There are no little girls wreaking havoc on my makeup bag.
5) I’ve also been doing weird poses around my house, to the delight of my children. Pay no attention to the wonky form, please.
Now what? Wellll, I’ve decided that I need to try it a little bit longer before I can give yoga a solid thumbs up or swift kick to the shins. I found a yoga studio in New Haven that I like (not Bikram, noooo not Bikram, and if you’re local and see me in a class, feel free to wave ,and I’ll try not to sweat in your direction), and I’m buying an actual yoga mat today, so I can guess you could say things are getting pretty serious (Napoleon Dynamite ref right there).
My biggest struggle with taking yoga classes is not that I am terribly inflexible and not because my arms shake every time I do a plank and not even that it’s an hour long (wuuut) investment of time. It’s the struggle to stand in a class and wear spandex and not feel self-conscious. Seriously. I’ll go out and hang out with whomever in normal human clothes all day long, but somehow putting my post-three-pregnancies-self in spandex in a class full of super sexy 21 year old sorority girls (and super sexy 41 year olds who are just total beasts at yoga) is pain-inducing. I’m at a normal weight, but when you’re in spandex (how many times am I going to write spandex) short and a spandex tank and you’re squatting and bending over and twisting and there are mirrors everywhere, it’s like.. okay, that’s a bad angle. Yea, that’s a bad angle, too.
I have to really focus in the beginning of class and just be like whatever, you’re here to get stronger and find balance in your life, don’t look at the mirror and seriously stop checking everyone out, you weirdo. And I can only assume and hope that I’ll gain flexibility and balance and strength over the next three months. My challenge started last week, so I’ll check in at the beginning of March and let you know if I’m like, lighting incense in my living room or if I’m chugging Diet Coke by the case, woooo.
Uh, namaste or something. :)