A Yoga Skeptic Tries Yoga

by Roo on December 2, 2013

in healthy living, storytelling

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.

A Yoga Skeptic Tries Yoga

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. :)

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

kelsey December 2, 2013 at 11:28 am

k… seriously…. you are doing a head stand after 2 months of awkward yoga’ing. Is there a yoga for dummies book that I missed reading? Never mind your inflexibility, you are AMAZING!!

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Roo December 2, 2013 at 11:43 am

This is literally the only thing I can sort of do. My downward dog is sad, sad, so sad.

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Jil December 2, 2013 at 11:43 am

I was thinking the same thing Kelsey! And then called Roo a bad name that ends in itch in my head. ;)

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Roo December 2, 2013 at 11:45 am

Hahaha, don’t lie, you said it out loud.

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Kelsey December 2, 2013 at 11:47 am

Kelseys think alike, because I was thinking the exact same thing. I can’t even do a full bridge, and I’ve been doing yoga off and on for 11 years!

Keep at it Roo! And if you want a good yoga butt kicking, try Bob Harper’s yoga for the warrior dvd.

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Desiree December 2, 2013 at 11:55 am

I third the headstand comment, that is so boss! It took me forever to do a headstand and I’m impressed! Good on you for sticking with yoga! I’m a yoga fiend but I’m seven months pregnant with my second and I know it’s not the best idea, but I give myself permission to take it easy during pregnancy. The pregnant Crossfit mom I am NOT. Plus, I don’t care what they say, trying to do a down dog with a giant belly doesn’t make you more zen, it makes you feel more gross. So I’m holding off until this little one is Earthside and then I will get back to my practice, because you’re so right, it’s a great escape and it’s very therapeutic.

So, congrats on sticking it out!

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Roo December 2, 2013 at 6:39 pm

I think maybe all of you think it’s way harder than it actually is! Try it against a wall. You will loooove it.

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Ashleigh December 2, 2013 at 11:32 am

I haven’t tried any hot yoga yet, but I kinda like regular yoga. Meaning, it’s growing on me. I have forced myself to start taking classes at my Y so that I actually get a workout in. When I was on the treadmill and there was nothing on TV, I would be like “Okay, workout done”. If you ever see a class called “WillPower + Grace” check it out…it’s a yoga, Pilates, cardio mix that I’m obsessed with…plus the name is awesome. So jealous that you can do a headstand…

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Roo December 2, 2013 at 11:43 am

WillPower and Grace, that’s hysterical.

I haven’t actually tried regular yoga. I like hot yoga because I’m always so cold that it takes awhile for me to warm up. Two minutes in a hot yoga room and I’m feeling toasty. :)

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MissCaron December 2, 2013 at 11:33 am

YAY for yoga! I love it. I wish I could afford classes but right now it’s not in the budget so I’m stuck doing it at home. Totally not the same. Keep it up… you’ll be happy you did.

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Roo December 2, 2013 at 11:45 am

It’s wayyy more expensive than a gym membership, for sure. But it’s sort of less expensive than therapy, and I feel like my hour break brings a little sanity to my life. I think that’s how I’m justifying it, anyway. Haha!

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Jill December 2, 2013 at 11:47 am

Oh, and I totally agree that down dog as a resting pose is BS. “Take a deep breath here and center yourself” Um, sure. But my arms and wrists are killing me and I can’t push my tailbone any higher. :) But, I love it!

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Roo December 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm

“We’re going to hold it here for five breaths.”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

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Melissa December 2, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Yay for you! Even if you decide it isn’t your bag of chips, I’m excited that you are really giving it a go! (yoga has saved me from a herniated disk and many heartbreaks) Note: not all studios have mirrors. I practice in a place without mirrors and teach at a gym with mirrors and they freak me out too still. *shudders* Also, some good spandex (I like Old Navy yoga clothes) that are a little thicker material can make a difference, almost like spanx feeling, but not so… squished.

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Roo December 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I like my spandex just fine until I have to bend. Then it’s like.. woof.

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Cassie December 2, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Are there any fatties in your class? Fat woman here getting ready to start yoga… I struggled with anorexia in middle school and high school and when I finally felt like food wasn’t the enemy later, I decided it was my bff. Add two pregnancies to that and a host of lovely other health problems that come along with being overweight, and I’m struggling to figure out where to start. I enrolled in a yoga class at school for 2.5 hours once a week and am looking into yoga and pilates classes at the local YMCA (small town- no actual studios here :( ) because they’re supposed to help with the health issues…. but I don’t want to sit around in class feeling super self conscious :(

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Jacqueline December 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm

It’s all in your head Cassie. I won’t say that NO ONE judges (but if they do, screw em!) but that’s not what yoga is about and not what people are there for. Were all there challenging ourselves to push further and become our best. And whether you have some weight or not, whether you’re flexible or not, whether you’re tall and awkward or not, you’re still welcome there just like everyone else. There’s too much good in it, not to share.

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Roo December 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm

There are men and women of all sizes in these classes, but the people who have been doing it regularly are in super amazing shape (which says a lot about practicing yoga, I think!). Don’t sit in class feeling super self conscious, close your eyes if you have to, and be proud of yourself for investing in your health.

I think in general everyone is really encouraging. On Saturday, we were doing this thing called a bind and I couldn’t reach behind me. The woman next to me (a mom, in her 40s, yoga for almost a decade) reached over and helped me out. Super nice. Being jerky and judgy disrupts that happy yoga flow, I think.

All that said. Go on, girl. Serve it.

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Megan December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Yoga kind of intrigues me. I would like to try it (I’ve done some really really basic yoga in theatre classes in the past, but I don’t think that really counts). If the yoga on my Wii Fit is any indication, I will fail horribly. How can it tell what I’m doing anyway? Stupid balance board.

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Roo December 2, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Haha you should totally try out a class, Megan!

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Deb December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm

That was a great post. You are the opposite of me in a way. I want to love yoga, but I find myself too ADHD to relax. That being said, I’ve only taken 1 class ever. I suppose I need to add that as something to try this month, and maybe do a 1 mo challenge.

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Roo December 3, 2013 at 6:32 am

You should totally try again, Deb!

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Jacqueline December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Aww Roo this put a big, childish, awkward grin on my face. I think this means I’m happy for you and you’re new found love for yoga. That feeling after your class 9, is the feeling you’ll almost ALWAYS get after a class, especially when you find what kind works best for you. One day will you come to one of my classes in Canada, PLEEEEASE!? That would be super cool. I’ll make you do handstands lol And maybe I’ll make it a baggy pants class.

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Roo December 3, 2013 at 6:34 am

Okay okay “love” is a little bit of a strong word, Jacqueline. ;) I would totally come to one of your classes!

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Alicia December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Good for you for sticking with it! And don’t feel too self conscious about how you look, I’m pretty sure everyone feels that way. Honestly, I think people are too self-centered to pay attention to how anyone else looks, chances are they’re only checking themselves out and not noticing how good/bad you might look if that makes you feel any better. And to Cassie, I’ve seen people of all shapes and sizes in yoga classes so go for it!

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Roo December 3, 2013 at 6:29 am

You’re probably right. I’m like “inhaaaaaale omg no one look at me exhaaaaaale I said no one look at meeeee.”

I’ll get over it. :)

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Diane December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Stick with it! Never mind how you look in spandex… it’s not nearly as bad as you think~ and really, no one else cares anyway. Seriously.

And give up the diet Coke, no matter what! That’s one of the best things you can do for your health. That stuff is BAD for you. I’m a reformed Coke lover (the real thing, not diet!). I’ve gone from being a 2-3 coke a day drinker years ago, down to 1 a day, then 2 a week and finally 1 a week on our pizza date night. About 3 months ago I decided it wasn’t worth the calories and I gave it up altogether in exchange for water with lemon. It was tough at first, but now when I taste coke it just tastes weird… and I don’t even miss it!

I know you’re drinking diet, but there are studies claiming that diet coke sabotages your diet by making your body think it’s getting sugar (because of the sweetness) but since you really don’t get any sugar it causes you to crave it more and eat it in other forms. Plus, that artificial sweetener is totally bad for you!

So stick with the yoga if you can, but definitely give up the coke. Your body will thank you! :-)

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Roo December 3, 2013 at 7:29 am

I prefer the taste of Diet over regular, but yes, I toooootally need to give it up!

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Dalton December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm

You may not be flexible; but, that headstand if definitely evidence of core strength! Unsolicited advice – get a real natural rubber mat. It will make you feel like you really know what you’re doing – even if you know you don’t look like you do :). I swear, the extra grip does make downward dog a l m o s t resting.

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Roo December 3, 2013 at 7:30 am

Hahaha the one I ordered has great reviews, so hopefully it fits the bill!

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KIRBY December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm

WOOT, WOOT, YOU GO GIRL!!!

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Roo December 3, 2013 at 7:30 am

THX BOO!

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Erin December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm

It took me a good two months or so to actually get into yoga, sort of like your experience though at some point it just clicked and now I’m a full blown addict. And spandex is for the birds!

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Roo December 3, 2013 at 7:32 am

Oooh that’s awesome, Erin. How long have you been doing it?

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Laurie December 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I had a similar experience a few years back when I started a brutal kickboxing/strength training class. One morning I caught myself thinking, “Oh good, today is abs day” and IMMEDIATELY followed up that thought with “WHO just thought that?”

Then there was the dreaded day when I woke up and thought, “Oh good, today is Saturday so I can work out as long as I want.” and then I knew something was permenently broken in me.

When you find the exercise you like and that makes you feel good, you start to say crazy stuff. It’s really weird.

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Roo December 3, 2013 at 7:34 am

Hahaha, we’ll see if I’m still talking crazy in a couple of months. :)

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Jen December 2, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I love vinyasa and prefer a studio without mirrors (that was one thing I really disliked about bikram). I can get way more into the flow if I don’t catch those unflattering glimpses of my scrunched-up self!

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Natasha December 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Ugh. I haaate working out in front of other people-it’s honestly what stops me from going to classes. I feel so self conscious :/
But, hubby and I pinky swore that when number 4 joins us, we’re joining the Y. So here goes.
Also: your headstand rocks. I haven’t done that since I was like, 16

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Roo December 3, 2013 at 7:40 am

Ooooh you will do great! Maybe we should all just take classes blindfolded.

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Anne Taite December 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I’ve had an on-off relationship with yoga for years. When reflecting back on my “on” times (including now – I’m in the middle of a 4 month prenatal kick), NONE of the studios had mirrors. I don’t think that’s a coincidence!

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Roo December 3, 2013 at 7:39 am

Oooh, so interesting. I actually like the mirrors for the purpose of checking my posture and alignment. :)

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Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 December 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I shake when I do Downward Dog. Chatarangas are HARD. I did bikram once and thought it would kill me. The only real resting poses are child’s pose and savasana. The End.

Going to the right yoga class (with people who don’t scare you) is key. I’ve done yoga primarily in two different places where I live. The first is a fancy, expensive gym, and I swear to you it’s only 90-lb college students and trophy wives with fake tans and boobs who own stock in Lululemon. Totally intimidating when I’m lucky if I’ve shaved my pasty legs and everything I wear gives me a belly roll when I stretch (I’m also a healthy BMI). The second one is people in tshirts who kick off Birks and don’t wear make-up. Sometimes they fall asleep during savasana – maybe even snore. It’s like…humans. SO MUCH BETTER.

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Roo December 3, 2013 at 7:42 am

Your comment makes me want to get a fake tan and breast augmentation. Kidding!

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Anna December 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Good for you, Roo! I go through phases with yoga that go something like, yes, Yes, YES, NO NO NO NO nonononono. Maybe.

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Roo December 3, 2013 at 6:33 am

Hahahaha, that is exactly, 100% spot on.

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Jenn December 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I love this post! I recently purchased a deal that gives me access to hot yoga for a month. I’ve done about 6? now (5 Bikrum and 1 vinyasa) and I like it! I definitely feel stronger in the class and I feel a little better about myself now that I can deal with the heat. I even think all of the sweating is kinda cool- it’s an 90 minute detox I can actually see. (I’m weird.) My biggest issue is finding something to wear that doesn’t stick to me. I only have one pair of capris that really work for the hot room and I don’t know if I want to invest in another pair just yet.
I’m SO impressed with your headstand! My vinyasa class wasn’t that badass, I guess….Although I shouldn’t complain since my whole upper body was in pain for two days afterwards.

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Amanda December 3, 2013 at 7:00 am

That feeling after your 9th class is the reason I drag myself to class every week. I’m so glad you stuck it out! :) This also makes me want to try hot yoga (not sure if I can find it around here) – I spend about half the class cold.

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Roo December 3, 2013 at 7:44 am

Oh definitely look into one, Amanda! I hate being cold while working out!

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Peg December 3, 2013 at 9:48 pm

I’ve dabbled in yoga but never stuck with it, too hippy-dippy. In the meantime I’ve gotten pretty into running and am overall pretty fit. While reading your post I thought “gee l’m gonna just get down with some poses lets see how I do.” I couldn’t even do downward dog! I COULD NOT DO DOWNWARD DOG. My hamstrings were crying. Now I understand why people do yoga.

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Leigh Ann December 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Ugh I’ve been waaaaaaanting to get into yoga with no motivation. I need more flexibility, and I know it will help make me stronger in conjunction with my running.

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