The first time my friend, Marianne, dragged me to a yoga class, I had pretty low expectations about getting anything out of the class. Personally, I had preferred a more intense type of workout that was going to make me sweat, for example like spinning or BodyPump.
Arriving At Yoga Class For The First Time
When I arrived for the class, I quickly noticed the other students with thin yoga sticky mats, hoping no one would notice the thick, puffy workout mat that I had brought. I pretended to rummage through my purse as I watched trepidaciously out of the corner of my eye as everyone removed their shoes and placed their mats in the room. It was a large room with about 25 students so I chose a spot in the back, hoping not to humiliate myself.
During the class all the postures were unfamiliar to me, with the exception of Child’s Pose, Downward Facing Dog, and Warrior II. I spent much of my time looking at the teacher and other students. I remember feeling embarrassed that I couldn’t touch my toes and that many of the postures were uncomfortable, especially the twists. My arms felt short and my stomach felt big.
Trying To Think Of Nothing During Meditation
But then, something happened at the end of the class. Savasana: the meditation portion of the class. Students were given the instructions to lie down and think of nothing.
“Nothing? You mean no anticipation of what’s going to happen next? No multi-tasking? No worrying about what people might be thinking about my not-really-a-yoga-mat or that my poses looked awkward and uncomfortable? You mean my job for the next 5 minutes is to JUST BE?”
I savored the first 20 or 30 seconds of quiet mind bliss.
And then I heard some sort of siren outside. I began to wonder about my kids. “Were they ok? Was that ambulance for them? How much longer did I have to lie here and think about nothing? Am I the only one who can’t stop thinking?”
I opened my eyes and discretely looked about the room. Everyone else was just lying there, being still. I heard someone lightly snoring.
I closed my eyes and thought about my breath like the teacher had instructed if we were distracted. “Ahhh….yes. Focused breathing. I can do this…” And I did…for about 30 more seconds.
And then the thoughts came back. “How are other people able to keep their thoughts from happening? I think my nose is itchy. Should I scratch it or just let it drive me crazy?” And so on….
Five minutes later the teacher rang some sort of chime, indicating class was over. I shot right up, thankful to be released from meditation, but also noticing a calmer presence about myself.
Driving home I realized that I was relaxed, but peacefully energized – not the usual feeling of being tired and worn down following an exercise class. And so that’s how my yoga journey began.
Tips For Those Beginning A Yoga Practice
- Find out what type of yoga class it is. Look for a hatha, Iyengar or a class specifically labeled as a beginner class.
- Find out if you need to bring your own yoga mat or if they have some available. Some places will charge a rental fee to use their mats.
- Try to eat no less than two hours before class and limit water intake right before class.
- Use the restroom before class.
- Wear comfortable clothing that can stretch. Bring a sweatshirt to layer.
- Arrive early to talk to the teacher before class and let her know if you have any orthopedic issues or medical concerns so she can supply you with modifications if necessary.
- And most importantly –
Let go of expectations, self-judgments, and be present in the moment.