Happy New Year, friends! It’s that time of year when we (or maybe just me?) lament all the things we’ve eaten since Thanksgiving and commit to making changes IMMEDIATELY! Or tomorrow…because today is still technically a holiday…and leftovers.
In the next few days, gyms across America will be inundated with people committed to getting back into shape after the annual December debauchery. They will show up, enthusiastically decked out in Lululemon and armed with Hydro Flasks, looking for the quickest way to lose a few pounds. They will start with the high intensity aerobics classes and then move to the treadmill, setting it at 100mph with a 75 degree incline. Then they will tackle the stair machine or they might start throwing around medicine balls, grunting with every heave.
Eventually they will tire of the intensity of aerobics or they might become convinced they are having a heart attack while sprint-hiking on the treadmill. About this time, they will catch a glimpse of the yoga studio across the way and decide that this might just be the promised land of physical fitness. I mean…yoga sessions generally involve laying down for some period of time.
After we joined a gym a few months ago, we decided that we would need to participate in some actual fitness activities so nobody would catch on that we were simply using the membership for the pool, the hot tub, the sauna and child care. I’m not sure why I’m compelled to make people think that I’m actually working out, but I am. Anyhow, yoga seemed like the best option for me because of the laying down part mentioned above. I would like to say that it has been smooth sailing, but there has actually been a pretty significant learning curve as I develop my “practice.”
So, if you decide to dismount the rowing machine and venture into the land of vinyasas and shavasana, here are some helpful tips that I have picked up along the way.
- Prepare for yoga class by googling “basic yoga poses.” If you have never done yoga before, this will help familiarize you with some of the common moves done in class. Avoid googling “yoga positions” as your computer may think you are interested in other “positions.”
- Arrive early. Securing the ideal spot in the class is IMPERATIVE! And also, you don’t want a bunch of yogis eyeballing you as you walk in late, disrupting their zen.
- Find a spot toward the center of the room. This sounds strange, but hang with me on this one. For my first class, I went with my gut and headed toward the back of the room…because I’m an introvert who likes to go largely unnoticed. But here’s the crazy thing in yoga…there really is no “back” of the room. The instructor does not stay in any certain part of the room, but rather roams around for the majority of the time. You will be turning and facing different directions throughout your session and you will NEED people on each side of you for reference when you get completely lost in your flow and need to copy off of someone who actually knows what they are doing. Even if you think you are in the back, there will come a time that you turn around and find yourself in the front of the room, awkwardly and helplessly fumbling through your moves without anyone else to watch to make sure you are doing the right combination of poses. Until, of course, you inadvertently plummet into downward dog, peer through your legs, and find that the rest of the class is in some iteration of warrior one….and you are in the front of the room with your butt in the air.
- Bring a plastic water bottle and not a metal one. When you are trying to recover from your downward dog fiasco and accidentally knock over your water, you will be much less conspicuous with the dull thump of plastic than the loud clank of metal. The yogis don’t like to be distracted by loud clanks. I guess if you just bought a nice new Hydro Flask and can’t fathom the thought of a plastic bottle, the alternative to #4 would be: Don’t be a clumsy idiot.
- Wear fitted clothing. I like my baggy sweatpants and oversized t-shirts as much as the next middle aged mom trying to hide her post-partum pannus, but this is one of the rare times in life that tighter fitting clothing may actually spare some embarrassment. During yoga you will, at some point…possibly many points, find yourself mostly upside down. When upside down, loose-fitting clothing (much like skin) has a tendency to follow the laws of gravity. This is not good if you gave birth to a 9lb 4oz child who stretched said skin to the extremes of its collagen and elastin. Wearing tighter fitting apparel will ensure that your skin stays in the general vicinity in which it originated, and that God intended it to stay in. And if there is any unfortunate skin shifting, your fitted spandex will help hide the carnage. (I’m not implying that you, anonymous reader, have saggy skin. Rather, I’m speaking from my own personal experience.)
- Keep your expectations low. Even after doing yoga several times, I still suck pretty bad. I am still striving to achieve some level of yoga nirvana when my poses will resemble those of flexible, toned, statuesque creatures, but for now my “dragonfly” resembles more of an “injured baby bird.” But that’s okay…because my expectations are low.
- Speaking of “injured baby bird”…if your poses need some tweaking, the really good instructors will come around and help you get into better position. Which can be a little awkward. So it’s better that you know this going in. This way you won’t be surprised when all of a sudden some guy in leg-warmers who smells of patchouli has his hands on your hips pushing your “frog pose” a little bit further into your mat. Ribbit!
- Attend yoga classes more than once per month. This is hard because of adulting and schedules and work and kids and commitments and bathing and cooking and meetings and interviews and dinners and my compulsion to just sit on the couch in my jammies and drink wine…. So on a good month, I might make it to 2 classes. Which I recognize is embarrassing. And why I’m encouraging you to do better than me. Because if you’re like me and you only go to class every couple of weeks, you will do just enough yoga to be super sore for one to two days after your class, but never reap any significant benefit. Your butt will still be saggy, your balance will be non-existent, you will forget your breathing and your “eagle” will resemble “drunken monkey with broken leg.”
- When class gets hard and you are thinking about bailing and hitting up the café for a brownie, just remember that class ends with shavasana…which is “corpse pose.” You’ve totally got this!!! This is for sure, hands down, my favorite yoga pose…and my “corpse pose” actually resembles “corpse pose.” You might even fall asleep for a split second, or a minute…or possibly two. But hey, you are EXERCISING!
Happy yoga-ing, friends! And I hope each and every one of you reading this (so like, my mom and Danny) have a wonderful 2020!