I first signed up for a beginner’s yoga course about seven years ago. I’m trying to pinpoint exactly when it was, but I can’t. I know I was living in South Jordan, Utah and going to Lifetime Fitness. I know I paid for a yoga starter pack.
The beginning yoga classes didn’t do much for me. I don’t know if it was the instructors or the pace, or if I just wasn’t ready for yoga, but I got so antsy in class. Breathing and relaxing and holding poses stressed me out. If I was working out I wanted to be WORKING OUT.
And so I quit.
I did a class here and there over the years, one particularly painful hour next to a professional dancer friend, and every time I finished I concluded again: yoga is not for me.
Early this year I decided to try out all of the group fitness classes at Pepperdine. It happened naturally, my desire to be more active, and I’ve let myself approach this new lifestyle slowly and with lots of queso. I’m never giving up queso.
I tried each class–a pilates class, a nightmare of a cardio kickboxing hour. I attempted zumba, something I will never, ever do again in my life. I went to a half-baked barre class. None of these spoke to me. None of these meant anything.
And then I went to yoga.
I was finally ready for yoga this year. I was finally ready to be calm and to learn how to breathe.
I am a naturally very manic person. I have a billion thoughts going at all times, a lot of energy and a lot of worry. I have a friend with a similar tempermanent and she has found her exercise home in fighting classes. As I type this I realize I don’t even know what type of exercise she’s doing other than she’s bruised when she’s done and she physically fights other humans.
This is her outlet. She can channel her anger and her energy into something intense.
I have found I need the opposite. I need to channel my anger and my energy into something calming.
I need to learn how to breathe and breathe and breathe again.
I forget to breathe a lot in yoga. It’s interesting that that’s a skill we learn. Everyone breathes, it’s how we stay alive, but the idea of a structured, practiced breathing has changed a lot of things for me. There’s a metaphor in there, somewhere. About how you can get through life without practicing it, but it’s better when you do, when you’re present and active.
I forget to breathe in yoga and I continually remind myself.
I’m not that good. At anything, really.
I’ve only been doing yoga consistently for about 8 months. Headstands are terrible. Every time we do a balancing pose I fall, seconds in. Half moons are a no. But I improve every week.
My heels don’t touch the ground on downward dog, but I improve every week.
There are girls in my yoga classes that started as dancers. They don’t even have to tell us, we just know. The teacher helps them when they are hyper-stretching. Then the teacher reminds us not to look at our neighbor, but to look at ourselves.
I like that with yoga too. I am no dancer. My mother tells the story of my short-lived dancing career and how for the first time she saw her little girl do something athletic and…well…suck at it. I’m a terrible dancer. My dancing neighbors, ones who have never even attempted yoga before, all slide into poses much easier than my trying-for-eight-months body.
And yet it’s not about my neighbors. It’s about me.
When I take naps, my goal is always to get to sleep. I don’t take 4 hour naps, I take 15 minute naps. The act of falling asleep, of allowing myself to relax enough to reach a state where I release that tension, that’s all I need. My roommate jokes I sleep for minutes, wake up and say, “I legitimately fell asleep!” all happy like. But it’s true. I need help learning how to relax.
Yoga is about that.
It’s about learning to breathe, about relaxing, about calming myself.
I wasn’t ready for that seven years ago. I was right in the middle of my most impatient, manic time. I’m still impatient and still manic, but now I’m ready to combat it a little. I’m ready to try, for a few hours a week, to learn how to calm myself.
I’m ready for yoga.