January 11, 2012.
Today was my day off, but I got up and took my butt to the gym because my blogger friends have been praising yoga lately and I thought it was about time I tried an actual class for it. I was intimidated before I went because of my lack of flexibility. I thought for sure I would look like a fool sitting in on a beginner class with a bunch of fit yoga-goers. I arrived minutes before class, took a peak in the studio door to determine what equipment I would need, obtained a mat and walked confidently into the room. Then I noticed that the room was packed - this was clearly a popular class. There were at least 30 people in the room already of all ages and fitness levels (which made me feel more like I fit in), but the only spaces available were front and centre, placing me near the teacher and directly infront of the wall to wall mirror - ugh!
I took my place crosslegged in the centre of my mat and made eye contact with the only other plus sized girl in the room (also arrived late so was front and centre with me and her very fit friend). We shared our unease and returned to these glances at a few points throughout the 1 hour and 15 minutes of scheduled classtime. I hadn't even started and I was already worried I wouldn't make it through the 75 minutes.
We began with some breathing exercises to get to know our bodies. I found this extremely informative and helpful. I've noticed lately when working out (especially when running on the treadmill) that my body is pushing for more, but my lungs are not filling to what I think their capacity should be. I think yoga will help change this because by the end of class I was getting more air into my lungs by being aware of drawing it into my belly, my diaphragm, and my chest, then back out in reverse. I also noticed that my flexibility is worse than I thought because sitting cross-legged with my back straight was difficult. I felt how weak my back muscles were at holding me up and elongated. I felt the stretch in my back and my legs and my neck and my shoulders. I was surprised that it required effort for me to do this.
At this point we began a series of body movements - twists, bends, stretches, etc. of which there were too many to remember the names of, but they were all easy to follow. The instructor (Sasha) was amazing. I found her helpful with her tips that came at just the right time. She gave variations for level of difficulty and body shape and always stressed that there was no wrong way to go through the movements as long as you were aware of your body and were listening to it. Ie. if you felt something interesting you should explore it and linger there, discover your tensions, feel your stretches, make note of where your breathing changes or becomes laboured.
There were very few times where we held a pose that I thought I wouldn't be able to support for the duration - palm tree and downward facing dog come to mind, but I breathed through them and made it for the most part. The only poses I really struggled with were ones that required you to touch your toes (or near them) with straight legs, but Sasha always advised that bent legs were acceptable to allow you to ground your hands - it just made it more difficult to support my weight on bent legs and relax.
We ended with a mediatation at the request of the "regular yogies" as Sasha called them. The meditation involved becoming aware of your breaths in and out of your nostrils. It also involved blocking one nostril with your fingertip while breathing out then in the other, before switching to block the other. This taught me that I do not breathe the same amount of air through both my nostrils. I get far more air from my left one and at times found it difficult to get a deep breath through my right. It wasn't very meditative for me, but it was intriguing nonetheless.
I made it through the whole class and surprisingly only looked at the clock once around the halfway point - more out of curiosity than my usual need to determine how much longer I have to suffer through a class. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and will definitely be going to this class regularily. I look forward to more benefits and awareness.
Today I am totally loving the gym - but only because it houses yoga class.