Just breathe, she said; reflections of a yoga newbie

I live a fast paced life. Mornings in my house are a whirlwind. I can usually be found grabbing bites of my breakfast (overnight oats) while simultaneously unloading the dishwasher, feeding the cat, cooking my children’s morning meals (waffles for one, eggs and toast for the other two), packing their lunches (none of them like the same thing), organizing dinner (crockpots are lifesaving) and prepping for a group fitness class or a client.

Within less than two hours of waking up, I’m out the door, dropping a child or two at school before zipping off to work to teach a class (or two), train a client (or three), workout myself and make a quick dash to the grocery store before retracing my footsteps and reversing the morning drill (lunch boxes unpacked, planners scrutinized, forms signed, dinner served, homework supervised and children driven to evening activities and lessons). If I’m lucky, there’s time for knitting and reading (and blogging; feeling a bit guilty here…) before bedtime. (Sound familiar to any of you?!!)

I’m not complaining. I thrive when I’m busy and activity and variety energize me. But, although my body is always tired and ready for sleep, my mind frequently races late into the night. I need a way to quiet my mind so I’m rested and refreshed for the next day’s busy-ness.

Enter yoga.

As I mentioned last week, one of my September intentions is to begin a yoga practice. In addition to helping me find clarity, focus and a quiet(er) mind, I’m hoping it will also help with my self-admitted lack of flexibility. Killing two birds, as it were (although that’s probably not a very yoga-y way to put it…).

Rather than attend a class at the facility where I work (there are lots of yoga classes and great instructors there), I decided to join a studio where (almost) no one knows me as an instructor or personal trainer. Kula Yoga is close to work and home and came highly recommended by several friends. Plus, the first visit is (was) free!

My first class was a 75-minute Hatha practice. I arrived about 20 minutes early to fill out ‘new client’ forms and have a quick peek at the studio. It was bright and airy and had a wonderful view of the mountains.

I panicked every so slightly when shown where to leave my shoes (recall my insecurity about the state of my feet), but a quick look at all of the other less-than-beautiful feet made me feel a tad less self-conscious.

Heather, the instructor, introduced herself and checked in with me throughout the session to offer encouragement and correction (which I needed A LOT of). Her teaching style was welcoming and friendly and she even remembered my name (as an instructor I know how important and difficult it is to do this with each newcomer to your class…).

The focus of the class was breathing. Sounds simple enough. We do it thousands of times a day without giving it any thought. Why is it then, that when someone asks you to pay attention to your breath, if becomes awkward? First slowing down, then speeding up as, in a panic, you feel like you’re running out of air? I can honestly say that my thoughts did not stray from my breath for a single second of that class! No to-do lists. No class planning. No mental knitting (yes, I knit in my head; don’t ask).

Click for source

I rocked the balance poses (at last, some concrete evidence of all the functional strength training I’ve done over the years!). I sucked at downward dog and butterfly pose (tight hip flexors and hamstrings; no surprises there). I particularly enjoyed the quiet meditation at the end and think that I may have found a pose I can use to help me defeat my periodic middle-of-the-night insomnia. (Don’t know what it’s called, but learning any new language takes time…)

My second class was taught by Alissa (who recognized me from the days when she worked at our local pharmacy; so much for anonymity!). Hatha again, but very different in focus and feeling than the first class. Both soothing and energizing at the same time.

Click on photo for souce

Alissa spoke less about breathing (which I still tried to focus on, but found difficult to do without constant reminders :)) and more about the heart. Lifting the heart to the sky during lengthening poses (what a wonderful visual cue!). Feeling our energy moving from heart to fingertips as we inhaled and exhaled. (I didn’t see the blue light, but maybe next time?). I found the poses easier to move into with her clear explanations of where to place hands and feet (mine were often far from where they should have been…) and was amazed at what a challenging workout Hatha yoga could be. I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to try another of Alissa’s classes (which she tells me are different every time).

Very different from the fast-paced spinning classes and high energy weight room that I so love, but, I think, exactly what I need to balance out the rapid pace of the rest of my week. Yin and yang. Order and chaos. Yada, yada.

I’ve committed to (and paid for!) one class per week for the next 12 weeks. That’s one intention I don’t think I’ll have trouble fulfilling. As for my goal of spending 30 minutes a day cleaning house? A heck of a lot harder than bow pose! (slinking off to wash the floors now…).

Do you practice yoga?

What’s your favorite discipline?

Comments

  1. The studio looks beautiful! I’d love to go there.

  2. I do practice yoga.
    I have never been to a class. I have never been to a yoga studio.
    It’s on MY list.
    But I use any free means to practice in my quiet room with or without my shadow and we breath, stretch and let go of my day.
    I.
    love.
    it!

    good for you
    (and I have no idea what kind of practice I do)

  3. I practice Yoga. O.K. I admit it may be a crazy way to start but I started Yoga using the WiiFit. I graduated to an actual class this summer. I absolutely love the quiet meditation at the end of class. My favorite were the classes on the beach with the crashing waves as background to our focus. I have found it quieted my life allowing me to slow down. The chaos of children, many jobs, and interests had drained my energy. Yoga allows me to appreciate how well my body works and where I need to help it too loosen up. Balance is hard for me but Yoga does help.

  4. Thank you for that inspiration, Tamara. Pre-paying for 12 claases once per week is a brilliant idea. Was impressed that your mind didn’t stray. Mine sure does. Right now my yoga is at a minimal. One Sun Salutation each side, 1 wall handstand, 1 headstand, 1 backbend, and 1 plough. After reading your post, my commitment level just elevated itself.

  5. Starting to practice yoga is one of my things to do. Classes are finally held at a time I can join in at. I used to do it so long ago and gave it up but I want to get back to doing it.
    runinboise recently posted…New Race Registration & Today’s PPUMy Profile

    • I am still going once a week and loving it! My flexibility needs work though; I wish I had the time to practice more frequently!

Trackbacks

  1. […] that there will be a 'second', despite the tenor of this post…]. Although I’ve been practicing yoga for over a year now, I have yet to become comfortable with inversions and am downright terrified of arm […]

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge