I am such a late starter when it comes to yoga. In all my 28yrs, and worldly travels, I really only started it a couple of months ago, when I randomly decided to try it out after reading an article in the NY Times called the Yoga Manifesto. It was one of the comments in the sections that really spoke to me. It basically was that you are the most important person in the yoga studio, and the most important thing to do in the yoga studio is simply be. It doesn’t matter if you can’t touch your hands the floor, or if your downward dog is more like an arthritic pug than a graceful whippet, but simply turning up, and focusing, is enough. If you think about it, that is incredibly powerful, and yet, takes away all the fear and trepidation a yoga newbie might feel. Simply be.
It is with this mantra that I approach each class with. There are some things I am good at (my upward dog is pretty damn good), and some I am not (anything requiring flexibility, standing on one leg, balance etc), but every single time I go to class, I can feel myself slow down, focus on the moment, focus on my body, my breathing, and simply try. In each class, I can feel myself growing taller, stronger, longer, leaner. I can feel my back strengthen, and the tension in my shoulders release. I can feel my legs literally become straighter, and my balance improve. Some days are good, and some not. Some classes are harder (my Thursday night sessions is a beginner intermediate rather than standard beginner, and it is haaard, but I keep going to push myself), and some easier. Some days will be more rewarding than others. But everytime I go, my body and my mind thank myself for taking me to class and focus my mind on doing something good for my body, even just for an hour.
I go to yogaworks, who have studios in California and New York. They have a range of classes and levels, depending on your ability. I am a solid beginner, and the beginner classes are focused on getting the form and structure of each pose right, now just in the pose, but getting in and out of the pose. YogaWorks focuses working through a number of related poses to build up your capabilities and YogaBlend has more emphasis on moving between poses at a greater speed. YogaBlend definitely gets your heart racing as you move between downward dogs planks, upward dogs, and the like. The instructors are clear in their instructions and offer many modifications for both easier and harder versions of the pose, and although the classes are graded by ability, there is usually a couple of people on each end of the scale. By the end of the class, I’m always feeling challenged and like I’ve worked my body in a very good, beneficial way.
If you had asked me 6mths ago about what I thought of yoga, I would have written it off as a thing that women with too much time on their hands and an excess of flexibility do. Now, it’s become a part of my regular routine and I literally count the hours until I get a chance to stretch back out on my mat and challenge my body and my mind again.