My First Yoga Experience
As I climbed the narrow and bleakly decorated stairs, I couldn't help but feel like I was kidding myself. Yoga was meant for fit mothers and men who were fans of loose pants and 'oneness' right...? Yet there I was, still climbing. For many years the idea of yoga had fascinated me, mainly because where I live, you don't see it. It happens in hidey-holes in town, where the windows are above eye level and no sounds are heard. The almost cult-like secrecy that had built inside my head about what happened behind the closed doors and high windows was maybe just that - all in my head. But what really does happen?
After walking wide eyed and mouse-like into the room at the top of the stairs I was greeted warmly by a short, stocky and very tanned man. His smile reached his eyes, and he clasped my hand in a firm handshake. I felt he was genuinely happy to have me wander into his self-named 'torture-chamber' (Bikram yoga is performed in extreme heat - 40 degrees!). After introductions and signing of forms, I was given an information sheet and asked when I would take part. While watching girls in bare feet, leggings and loose t-shirts wander confidently through to the adjoining room, I replied....
"Tomorrow." The recon mission was complete, I had scoped out as much as possible without being a weirdo and felt more ready to take
on the obscure - YOGA.
Yoga: From deep breathing to 'dead body' poses
Well... I was in a fluster. I have gym clothes galore jammed into my drawers, but none of them felt right for yoga. T-shirt or singlet? 'Light fitting, loose clothing is ideal...' That shirt was too tight. That shirt was too thick and hot. That shirt makes me look like androgynous. Are exposed armpits frowned upon? Oh dear god, I'm going to look like a fool. Bare feet? Really? In the heat?
It turned out to be so not a big deal... I'm just a dork. But hey, what's new? It turns out, less clothing is preferred unless you want to pass out from hyperthermia. More smiley people greeted me at the door, and I received another firm handshake from Jack. Within minutes he had told me my spine was out of alignment (I know this already), educated me about the benefits of osteopaths who work with children and the importance of my core muscles. With my yoga mat and classy pink Playboy towel tucked under my arm, I left Jack and wandered into the dark room. Bodies were dotted throughout the room, lying quietly on the floor meditating. I copied them, and ten minutes late could hear snores coming from nearby bodies. The heat in the room was overwhelming and made breathing deeply vital for survival. The curved wall, and the breathing that echoed around me gave the impression of being inside a womb.
Jack announced his arrival into our sweaty den, and switched the lights on.
"Alright! Listen very carefully...." His speech was abrupt and completely unexpected. He gave quick, clear instructions and I had some very flexible people to watch and learn from. The positions ranged from simple to maybe-next-year-that-will-be-possible, and the sweat just never stopped. It dripped off my nose and chin, down my calves.... Do you know how hard it is to stay still while sweat is pooling in your ear holes?
"Suck in your core, squeeze your butt muscles!" If I learnt anything, it was that this is vital to every single position, and also quite difficult when your legs and arms are stretched at odd angles! An hour later I was hot, tired but relaxed and quite proud of myself. It was an exhausting but gratifying hour of my life, and I can't wait to do it all over again :)