My First Yoga Experience

I did it.  I took my first-ever (and second-ever) yoga class.  I have always been hesitant to take a yoga class, not because I didn’t think it would be a great experience, but because the only yoga I’d ever heard about involved a lot of chanting, “om-ing,” (which, to me, just sounded like a lot of people humming together - not really what I want in my workout) and mental exercise that didn’t really work the body.  I’ve read great things about yoga, though, the main points being it’s a nice complement to an intense exercise regimen and it enables you to learn relaxation techniques to use in everyday life.  Don’t get me wrong, none of those are bad, but yoga just didn’t seem like “my type of exercise” if you know what I mean…

Well, I was proven wrong.  And happily at that - at least with the second class I took.  The first class, called “Power 1,” had quite a slow pace compared to the typical exercise classes I’m used to (cardio-kickboxing and strength training).  For that reason, I felt like I didn’t really get too much of a body workout from it.  I barely broke a sweat and certainly didn’t tax any muscles.  However, I can see how a class like that can calm the mind over time, and be a nice way to add some less-intense, but still active exercise into a weekly routine.  

THE FIRST CLASS: NOT REALLY MY THING (UNTIL IT WAS OVER...)

In the beginning of Power 1, the instructor had us talk to our neighbor (someone we didn’t know) and discuss our favorite movie.  I see what he was going for, but I wasn’t really a fan of that type of “meet ’n’ greet,” especially at the beginning of an exercise class.  I wanted to get on with the exercising, already!  He had us “meet him” in child’s pose after the movie discussion and walked us through some mental exercises using movie analogies from those mentioned earlier.  Again, when would we get to the exercise??  We finally started with some slow breathing techniques and various stretches, progressing into slightly more difficult moves like chatarunga and chair pose.  Each sequence was done at a slow pace to start, and increased speed once the instructor felt like the class understood what their body was supposed to do.  Toward the end of class, he had us lie down on our mats and close our eyes, guiding us through a visualization on how well we had done that day and how much better we should feel inside and out for having made it to class.  I DID feel good for having gone and tried something completely new.  I did NOT, however, feel like I gained a new awareness about myself or had any “spiritual awakening,” as his words suggested we should.

At the end of the first class I stayed after to take a few pictures and noticed one of the other students practicing headstands and handstands (which were both very impressive).  I asked him if he’d mind showing me how they were done (the "yoga" way, not the "gymnastics" way, which I'm used to), and he very kindly spotted me while I tried them…

Left &  Middle: Headstand Progression; Right: handstand, spotted

And for fun, he had me do this:

THE SECOND CLASS: MUCH MORE MY SPEED

The second class I took was WAY more intense and definitely more up my alley in terms of muscle groups used and exercises performed.  That class was called “Power Sculpt,” and it used hand weights to amp up the intensity of the yoga poses.  We had a new instructor, female this time, and you could tell she was pumped to teach.  Her excitement was palpable and really made me energized and anxious to get the class started.  She began with some easy, fluid moves just to warm up our muscles and then got right into the good stuff.  Within about 10 minutes of starting class we were already doing an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of 5 narrow-arm pushups, 5 burpees, and 5 squats.  I was feeling pretty good by that point and definitely had a good sweat going (oh, did I mention the room was heated?).  After the AMRAP, we progressed through some classic yoga poses (chatarunga, warrior 2, reverse warrior, triangle pose, chair pose, etc.) using the hand weights.  This definitely taxed the shoulders after a while, even using 3- and 4-lb dumbbells, and my god did it make you sweat!  Toward the end of class she had us calm our heart rate and breathing using the same relaxation techniques that the first class did.  She also waved a towel over us to cool us off slightly, which felt ah-maz-ing!  At the end when all was said and done, my muscles were pleased, I was absolutely drenched, and felt like I just completed a very difficult workout.  It felt great!

THE TAKEAWAY:

All in all, I liked my experience in both classes.  The first class was a good introduction to the practice of yoga, where I was able to learn the basic poses, lingo, and breathing techniques used in a more relaxed environment.  The second class was definitely more my type of workout: a little bit of strength training with the weights, a little bit of stretching and relaxation, and a LOT of sweat.  Bottom line: I'm open to trying out more yoga classes in the future, but for now, I think I'll stick with my usual exercise routine. :)

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON YOGA??

Are there different styles that you like or dislike?  Any poses that you love or hate or have yet to master?  I'm really curious about your opinion on the topic!!  Leave a comment here, or message me on social media!  Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

  Left : close up of all of us;  Top Right : Us in front of the studio mural;  Bottom Right : close up of my dad, my aunt and me.

Left: close up of all of us; Top Right: Us in front of the studio mural; Bottom Right: close up of my dad, my aunt and me.