My First Time…Doing Yoga

by carolyn on January 8, 2012

Most people I know who have tried yoga either hate it or love it. The haters usually find it awkward or boring and the lovers appreciate that it promotes flexibility and relaxation. I love trying new workouts and was eager to try yoga, but hesitant to do so with a room full of people at surely more advanced levels of both fitness and zen. I researched The Savannah Yoga Room  and decided that the owner, Sophie, was an excellent yogi candidate to be my first instructor. I decided to do a private lesson first to accomodate my sensitivities. At $40 for 90 minutes it was an absolute steal – most private training sessions at gyms I’ve been to are between $50 and $75 for 50-60 minutes.

I was a bit nervous going into the studio-it was my first time after all-but the fragrant incense and soft Eastern music quickly put me at ease. The only thing that could have further relaxed me at that point would have been a complimentary glass of champagne or, let’s just be honest, a shot of tequila. Sophie asked me about any injuries and weaknesses and I quickly owned up to my history of falling and breaking or spraining my foot or ankle on a semiannual basis. (It’s not a choice, but it is something I have learned to live with). She assured me that I could use the wall for support during poses that required much balance on either foot and that cautious practice of such poses would help strengthen those weaknesses and increase my balance.

For the next hour or so she led me through a series of breathing exercises and yoga poses that involved a lot of standing up and laying down and twisting and bending. Though we moved at a slow pace my Buddha like figure got quite a workout and I found that my breathing was heavy and some of my leg muscles were shaking a bit from exertion. If you described the sweating, shaking, and water breaks to someone without telling them I was doing yoga, they would assume I was running a marathon or maybe climbing Mt. Everest.

I was pleasantly surprised that around the 70 minute mark we practiced yoga nidra (yogic sleep). Nap time!!! This was the moment in my training session when we both realized that I had a natural talent for yoga. Surprisingly she did not feed me milk and cookies beforehand. I’ve done yoga several times since that fateful first day and  I still don’t understand why this isn’t common practice in yoga nidra. I’ve been pre-gaming naptime with food since I was in Kindergarten. Actually, probably since I was a baby (thanks Mom!). Eat. Sleep. Eat. Repeat. It’s the natural order.

For yoga nidra she provided a large pillow roll to place under my knees as I laid back and enjoyed the stillness of the room and the increased relaxation of my muscles since I was done stressing them out by making them do things they’ve never done before. My muscles were all like, “FINALLY!” and quickly became limp. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better Sophie surprised me with a lavender scented eye pillow. Loved it! The heaviness on my eyes and the delicious smell of Lavender did me in. (Post-yoga I went on Amazon.com and ordered one of my own.) I was comatose until she rang a little bell some time later (who knows how long it was-I was passed out). I grudgingly sat up and we did some more breathing and she told me to set a focus for the week. I loved this part! I don’t remember what I decided to focus on. Probably boys. Then it was Namaste time and I was on my way. My muscles were still pretty sore but luckily Cloud 9 was waiting to take me downstairs to my car and help me drive home.

I was pretty sure I had reached nirvana. I felt more aware of my body than ever, I was relaxed, and I had gotten some good cardio in. I had a fresh perspective on life and could take on the world. I had to tell someone about this obviously secret thing I had discovered. I called my cousin, Martha, and excitedly (yet serenely) described the last 90 minutes of my life. I don’t remember her response but luckily she is part of the readership of this blog and she can comment about what she said as I’m sure my phone call was a life changing moment for her as well and she remembers it vividly.

My euphoria lasted about half a week and then I needed another fix-and fast. I was hooked. My second yoga experience was similar to my first in both practice and results. Then the third time I did yoga I left feeling as depleted as when I had entered that day. Where was my yoga high? Had I developed a tolerance? Did I now need 3 hours of yoga to get what I used to get from just 90 minutes? I was majorly bummed but I wasn’t going to throw in the towel.

I now try to do yoga on a regular basis with varying degrees of success but no longer consider it a magic cure for all that ails me. I think it is one of those things in life where you get out what you put into it. If your mind, body, and spirit aren’t fully committed then you may not see all the results you want. It’s hard to get the trifecta but usually I score at least some emotional perspective or bodily relaxation. Yoga has so many benefits that I strongly encourage even the haters to give it another shot. There are many different styles of yoga and the experience varies by instructor as well as environment. Do some research to figure out what’s right for your personality and your lifestyle.

The more often I go to yoga, the more I appreciate how it makes me feel. One of my favorite times to go is a 6 pm class on Friday. It’s a great transition from the workday to the weekend. And, best of all, if you don’t get sweaty you don’t have to shower again before going out that night!

Namaste!

 

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stephanie January 8, 2012 at 7:56 pm

You’ve inspired me to try Yoga!! After being totally embarrassed the one time I tried Pilates…the instructor actually told me in front of the whole class that Pilates was just not for me!! Needless to say, I was so out of shape and completely awkward with every move and position… But now willing to give Yoga a chance. I saw a yoga studio close to our new home so here I come yoga. Thanks!!

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2 carolyn January 9, 2012 at 2:35 am

I think Pilates is pretty different from Yoga but I’ve only informally tried it once. I hate when instructors call people out in class. I hope you filed a formal complaint, but I know you didn’t because you’re too sweet! Can’t wait to try your new yoga studio during my visit :) Maybe we can a place that does beach yoga!!!

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3 Bettie January 8, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Thanks, Carolyn, for your very informative and inspiring yoga narrative. I have always felt like I didn’t have time for yoga, but your words make me want to try yoga for myself. I am really enjoying your blog!!

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4 carolyn January 9, 2012 at 2:38 am

Thanks BETTIE! I know that your time is limited and precious but I think this would be a great outlet for you. Perhaps you could incorporate it into other activities such as spending time with your daughters. What greater fun than 90 minutes of hanging out with them with no talking allowed :). There is also a movement called laughter yoga. I’m not sure if we have it in Savannah but that may be more up your alley :) <3

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5 Martha January 9, 2012 at 2:01 am

Well, selfishly, all I really remember about you telling me about yoga was that I was jealous and wanted to try it. It’s always on my “to-do” list, and I think it’s something I would definitely enjoy and benefit from, but I’ve never made the commitment. I did go to one yoga class when I was pregnant and it was definitely very relaxing (and embarrassing)…it was very similar to when I tried a pregnancy aerobics class and told Ruth about how I was the worst person in the class. Her response: “Well, what did you expect? If you’d be the worst person in a regular aerobics class, did you really think being pregnant would make you better than the average person?” Anyway, I’m moving yoga up a few notches on my to-do list! Keep me posted on your progress and what types of yoga you like the best. Honestly, I think just breathing for an hour or so can do wonders! Thanks for sharing <3

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6 carolyn January 9, 2012 at 2:33 am

Personally I make a habit of breathing 24 hours a day…but I’m a bit of an overachiever :). I can definitely picture Ruth saying that. Can you tell her bout my blog btw? Also I want to sue someone so let me know when she is ready to represent me. I’m glad that if nothing else I was able to evoke jealousy. That is an important first step for promoting change :) Love you and thanks for encouraging me in all things (good).

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7 Carolyn the first February 12, 2012 at 10:53 am

I’ve never been able to get over the fact that “Yoga” sounds so close to “Yogurt,” which just doesn’t sound pleasant. What would you say is the significance of that?

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8 carolyn February 26, 2012 at 4:02 pm

You raise an excellent point, Carolyn the First. If I was still in college with access to the Oxford English Dictionary I would trace both words to their roots and get to the bottom of this once and for all. Unfortunately, those days are gone. y instinct is that do not share a root. If you are asking about the significance of your inability to disconnect the two words in your mind thus making two pleasant things unpleasant, I would suggest that you get over it about pursue both with vigor :)

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