So let me tell you about my first yoga class…
I tried yoga about 8 years ago.
It was because I was on all kinds of meds with high blood pressure and was told it would be good for me and would reduce stress. I was also a full blown T2 diabetic and they were anxious to get me moving. ANY kind of movement. They said yoga would be ‘gentle’ and an ‘easy place to start’.
I’ll be honest…
I grudgingly and resentfully went to the yoga class to get my doctor off my back.
I was around 300 pounds. It took EVERYTHING in me to put on spandex pants and go to the class.
I spent the entire 45 minutes HUMILIATED. Everything had to be adjusted or accommodated for me and my bulk and my inflexability. Every move it seemed, the instructor was calling me out and correcting me. I was not only horribly inflexible, I was also trying to silently fight my belly fat rolls that were totally getting in my way and impeding my ability to breathe.
I hated it.
Every. Freaking. Minute.
I left the class and proceeded to spend the next 5-6 years telling everyone how horrible, useless yoga was.
So fast forward to about 2.5 years ago.
I’m now reasonably fit, getting healthier. Working really hard to establish and love some healthy lifestyle patterns around food, exercise, my body. I’m really getting into trail running and openly aiming for an ultra.
I was complaining to my friend Kris about being inflexible.
Kris asks me to go to a yoga class with him.
He said the flexibility yoga could give me would help my running.
I reminded him that I hated yoga.
He supports me on this lifestyle journey 100% – running with me, eating my kinds of foods, listening, going to races, lifting weights… 🙂 I hesitate to accept his invitation ONLY because it’s yoga that we’re talking about….
I trust Kris. Entirely. He didn’t have to work too hard to wheedle out of me that the reason I hated it was because I’d tried it ONCE. One time, long ago, when I was morbidly obese and I still very much burned with shame over the whole freaking experience. I told him everything.
He promised he would go with me, that he knew the instructor and she was great. The class was small.
He said I would enjoy it.
He promised to do everything he could to help me feel comfortable.
So I put on my big girl panties. Yoga mats in hand… We went.
Kris had to talk me through what to wear, what to bring and what to expect. Multiple times. And he knew I was still really nervous about it all.
But I have to say, as thorough as he was, he forgot ONE KEY instruction…
I didn’t know this was about being QUIET and not TALKING.
Somehow the whole idea of yoga and meditation being quiet had totally escaped me…
I mean c’mon… I’m an extrovert. I love social gatherings. I figured if we were all suffering to contort our bodies into these weird poses that we should be encouraging each other and sharing in the misery.
And let’s face it. I’m still just a little scarred from the previous experience.
It started off great. I was actually starting to feel comfortable.
About 15 minutes into the class, the instructor begins to guide us into a pose that seemed physically impossible…
Sit up straight, relaxed and cross your legs. Gently place the tops of your feet on your opposite thigh…
I said loudly and clearly, making defiant eye contact with the instructor…
‘THAT is NOT going to happen.’
Of course everyone looks at me.
Total alarm spreads throughout the very quiet room that I’d dared to speak out loud. Loudly, out loud.
The instructor just smiled at me.
I am guessing that Kris is somewhere between embarrassed and mortified at this point. He’s giving me the unmistakable SHUT UP look and the whisper/shushing that friends who know each other well engage in.
And I am now totally choosing to ignore him.
I said at least two more times…
‘What?! Really? That’s just NOT going to happen…’
At this point the instructor leaves the front of the room to walk over to try to help me.
Kris has lost his pose and composure and is now sitting on his mat, staring at me and openly trying to figure out how to help me.
The instructor pretty quickly, with just a few soft words, helped me find a good modification.
She kept smiling at me; like a GENUINE, whole face smile… Not irritation masked with barred teeth. Looking back; I am guessing that Kris MUST have warned her about my history.
I calmed down.
I tried the next pose… with success. 🙂
I got quiet again.
I would bet at this point that Kris’s blood pressure and heart rate probably dropped exponentially. 🙂
At the end of the class the instructor even said she hoped I would come back. To another class. With another instructor. 🙂
I talked with Kris afterward and finally understood… Quiet. This is all supposed to be quiet.
What can I say… I’m a slow learner. 🙂
I have branched out and tried other yoga classes over the last two years. And much to my shock and surprise, I have actually gotten to where I enjoy it immensely as long as I make the time and stay in a regular yoga practice.
So what happened to Kris? Kris moved out of state and never went to yoga with me again. 🙂
OK… OK… I’m kidding. The truth is that Kris got his PhD about a month after the yoga incident and promptly got an amazing job on the East Coast. He now lives and runs and practices yoga in Tennessee. 🙂