Saturday, January 14, 2006

My First Yoga Class

Actually, Thursday night was not when I had first tried yoga. My first yoga class was when Husband and I went on our dream getaway to Big Sur. We had decided, on a whim, to try a morning yoga class in a yurt. We were two of three people in the class. Our teacher was zaftig, perfectly juicy I remember thinking, and clear-skinned. She glowed an energy that demonstrated probably how she lived. I fought urges to smell her because I had made bets with myself that she smelled woody with amber . She was also patient and not particularly kind, but calmingly neutral. Afterwards, Husband and I had felt unexpectedly -- we didn't know what to expect -- refreshed, revitalized. This yurt yoga experience was what first piqued my interest to pursue yoga regularly.

Before Thursday night's class I took my book, which had collected dust, to a sushi spot that overlooked the ocean. I ordered a seaweed salad, green tea and then I tried to special order a vegetable roll, but my waitress cut me off and said, "Oh, we don't do that." Which pissed me off kinda because isn't that guy behind the bar with the sharp knife an artist? Wouldn't he possibly want to try to make it? Or do they just run pre-made rolls down a shoot now? Breathe, Madness, it's Yoga Night goddamn it. I was a little amped on that second cup of coffee. "Ok, regular veggie rolls, please." But still, I had the ocean, seaweed and a book on Mami Thursday. I felt bursting joy in my heart.

At the Yoga Spot, I became nervous as I waited for class to begin. A candle flickered in the dimly lit room floored with beautiful light wood. The air was warm and heavy from the previous class. I felt in over my head. Everyone waiting looked so yoga-like and fresh. Startled, I thought, wait, are you not supposed to wear all black to yoga? I looked down at my black dance pants and my black Post Punk Kitchen tshirt. Maybe all the black blocks something, energy or some shit. I don't want to block something. I shook this off and just did what the others did. I grabbed a mat. I grabbed a folded blanket. Why I was grabbing a blanket, I had not one clue. The teacher walked to the front of class. She was a sub for the regular teacher, and she had a strong, lovely Irish accent. I thought, Ooo how great that I get to listen to this for an hour and a half. Later, I would find it kinda funny how certain instruction sounded. Like, "go ahead and bend your knees from soide-t-soide." Chuckle, chuckle. This also brought me private bursts of joy.

Here's what I learned:

1. The blanket you can tuck under your butt while doing certain sitting things. I found this uncomfortable so I tossed the blanket to the side. You can also cover yourself at the end of the class. I didn't do this either.

2. If you're a dancer, the transition into yoga may be easier than for other beginners. Dancers constantly think of the alignment of body parts. Which always reminds me of my favorite I Love Lucy episode where Lucy takes a ballet class and Madame Lamond rattles rapidly, "Back straight, hips under, shoulders back, chin up ---" and Lucy makes adjustments like a rag doll.

3. You can make yoga much harder than it looks if you really concentrate on these adjustments and elongating and such. I was digging that.

4. Beyond trying to adjust, the breathing and the flow of movement felt . . .universal and connected. Are all yoga practitioners saying "DUH" as they read this? How late am I to this party? I'm just saying, I could feel this right there in that first class. I could feel it because I was not self conscious about diving into this whole-heartedly. Is this another "DUH" statement? Or "doi hickey" as we used to say in middle school?

5. DUDES! I didn't know there was nap time at the end of yoga! We didn't do this in the yurt. How great is that though? Three times during these ten wonderful minutes, I consciously thought, "I'm meditating, yo!" I was giddy by this point and still I was able to empty myself -- except for the couple "I'm meditating!" outbursts . I felt huge, looming over the room, and I felt I had disappeared. I felt like I didn't need to breathe. I felt like I wasn't. I felt completely alive/awake and I felt I was in a dreamstate. I felt weightless. I felt I had melted to my mat.

I felt that Yoga was going to be another decision to enhance my life beyond what I was capable of understanding, even in that all and nothing state.


Green Whale said...

The nap at the end of yoga class -- shavasana -- is the best and most important pose there is! (I'm only half kidding.) I love how purely tired you feel then and how doable it seems to clear your head of jumpy thoughts. It's so wonderful that you were able to relax and enjoy the class. It took me a long time (years) to let go of the achievement-oriented thinking (and stop feeling bad about being the chubbiest girl in the class) and just focus on feeling good.

yolie said...

congratulations! you're so hooked!
And congratulations (belated) on taking yourselves to Post Ranch, you both looking stunning. What a place. That whole area is magic I think.

Rebel Girl said...

Woo hoo.

Good for you.

Now - off to my own yurt for shavasana.

liz elayne said...

this is good. and that you learned all of this in your first class. can't wait to hear about class 2.

madness rivera said...

Shavasana! Ok, cool. Thanks GW & RB.

Yea, Yoli, the Post Ranch was amazing and magical like you said.

Liz, I didn't realize you were a yoga instructor! HAHAHAHA. I feel like an ass with the naive discoveries among experts. It is not lost on me, however, how hard it is to get even near a state of emptiness. This obviously cannot be learned in one class of anything, but my mind was very primed for the idea because of a million reasons, and I accepted it whole heartedly. Yoga will take it to another level, I know it.

andrea said...

girl, I poo-pooed yoga for years. and years. and then one summer while I was studying dance, I was sort of 'forced' to do it. I was taking five different dance classes each day and the first one integrated yoga into the warm-up. at first, I hated it. and then when I realized how much it kicked my butt and how GREAT I felt afterwards, I loved it. and I swear, after I had ava, I was so shocked-- my body had changed so much. I didn't know what to do but yoga saved me (ha, that 5-10 minutes alone at the end of class saved me from losing my mind).

yes, the dancer in me loves the cerebral aspect of yoga. thinking about the mechanics, the connections. I love how I can feel space in my spine when I walk out of class, I love how I feel like I can breathe just a little deeper, like there is space in my body. I think a really good yoga class feels like a fantastic massage. you're going to love how it makes you feel better and better each time you go. you're going to dig it. yay for you!

poppy said...

so cool this sounds! look forward to hearing how it goes, as i still haven't done the yoga thing....

Marigoldie said...

I'm not taking yoga right now, but I do love it. My problem with classes is that I never know what type of yoga is best. It overwhelms me, which is probably a disappointment to yoga teachers everywhere! Right now I just do some poses at home, and that works OK.

Good luck with it; I can imagine a new subhead on your blog called Mad Yoga Related Posts.

dani said...

oh god you're reminding me why i feel so guilty that my last yoga class was almost 5 months ago. yoga is awesome, and weirdly, i wear all black too- dance pants and daggy t-shirts. what style of yoga are you practising?

madness rivera said...

hi Dani, well, in my mind I'm pretending it's Ashtanga, but I think it's just a basic "Level 1-2" class to get really familiar with the poses.

Nicolas Ervin said...

It seems like you learned a lot from doing yoga! And I’m glad that you decided to make it a habit. I know for first timers that this practice can be a little uncomfortable. I, too, had some hesitations before doing some yoga. But when I got to master the method, it became easy and a lot more enjoyable. Yoga helps me in a lot ways. I feel relaxed and sleeping after every session is a breeze!