Thursday, March 19, 2009

breathe

My very first yoga class was in Tucson, with erica. I was scared and self-conscious, and afterwards I was surprised at how difficult it was. I feel like yoga rocketed into the public consciousness fairly recently (this might just be because I was young and not paying attention before), and prior to that a lot of people maybe viewed it as a lot of breathing and easy stretching, and I was one of those people. It kicked my ass, but in a good way, and I went with erica and even a few times by myself (which is difficult for me) somewhat regularly over the course of the next year and a half. When I moved to Evanston, I spent two quarters doing a lot of yoga at the student gym, and then I ran out of time and money and stopped just when my shoulder muscles were getting nice and I could wrap my hand around the bottom of my foot (also difficult for me).
This week I went twice. And it was great. Even between the first and second classes, I could tell that I'd stretched; my downward-facing dog was better, I could reach farther, I managed to do things I hadn't done in years and that I frequently feel too old for. It's been a hard in-my-head sort of week, and getting out of that and into a space where my body was literally all I had the energy to think about was amazingly good for me.
The first class was at a place down the street from my house, and it was... interesting. I showed up ten or fifteen minutes early, and was the only person there for a kind of uncomfortably long amount of time. I started to wonder if I would be there only person there, and that made me highly uncomfortable, especially given my four years of not practicing. I sat on my mat, looking around the room, and noticed that all of the paintings had red dots placed on the foreheads of the person pictured. These were all Indian people or people wearing robes or otherwise people that were unsurprising to see dots on, but one near the altar at the front was a dollar store-type picture of Jesus.
Thankfully, some other people showed up just before class started. We spent about half an hour just doing breathing, which I appreciated, and then we did a whole bunch of sun salutations. The instructor was an Indian lady who took almost no time between statements. "Breathinarmsupfoldhandsdownjumpback..." It was hard to keep up at first. After the sun salutations we did a few seated positions and variations, and suddenly she said "Okay, headstand!" And goddamn, every person in the room popped right up into a freestanding headstand on their mats! I didn't even try, I just looked bewildered at all the legs suddenly up in the air.
But it was a decent class (and cheap! even I can sometimes do twelve dollars), and the next day I went to a donation class that Anna's gf Ellie was teaching at a much swankier yoga place across town. It kicked my ass. I'm sore. But happy, and it was good for me. At one point, I was doing this pose where you put your feet together in front of your sit bones (like a butterfly) and stretch your chest toward the front of the room, and Ellie came up behind me and pushed me down at least six inches farther than I had any idea I could go. Bodies are amazing.

3 comments:

Rosiecat said...

Bodies are amazing. And so is yoga. Yoga has given me so much piece of mind that I daresay it may have kept me sane during too many moments when I thought I would lose my mind. My yoga is all cobbled together from various videos and magazine articles, but hey, it works for me. And I can still touch my toes!

PS I want to go with you to one of Ellie's classes!

ammie said...

Let's do it! Next weekend I have a day free, we'll make plans :)

Louise Tripp said...

Wow, I want to do yoga regularly. My YMCA (Irving Park) has free yoga classes but they are on days when I can't go (i.e, days I work 9hours and am in Skokie all day). I know there is this Yahoo Group I lurk on that often mentions free yoga classes sometimes - I need to look at where those are. I'm inspired now. That's great that you've been doing this. :)