Yesterday I went to my first yoga class in almost 2 years.
That’s a long hiatus considering how often I was going for years…
But I just turned 31, and decided that it’s time to start prioritizing my health again.
So I found a studio near my new house, looked up the class schedule, and found a one hour evening flow class, and booked (and paid for) my spot online to make sure that I didn’t punk out.
I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Sure, I’ve taken lots of classes in the past, but I’d never been to this particular studio before, and I had no idea what the instructor would be like, or if I’d walk into a room full of handstanding, pretzel-bodied yogis prepped for a way more advanced class than I was ready for.
I reminded myself that everyone starts somewhere and tried to quiet the self-judgement going through my head.
Still – I almost didn’t go…
As I approached the front door, I was super confused about how to get inside….was there a class going on right on the other side of the door that I couldn’t see? Should I knock? Try the door? Wait for someone else to arrive and see what they do? No. I read the sign. It says “enter through side gate.” *whew*
I walked through an unexpectedly cute and spacious garden before entering the small studio.
Immediately, I was greeted by the warmest, friendliest handshake and ‘nice to meet you’ from the instructor, Katherine.
With still almost 30 minutes til class time, she showed me around and let me get set up in the shala.
And then something really really magical happened.
In this empty room that I’d never been in before, all alone, I suddenly felt completely relaxed, safe, and at home.
That’s when I remembered what I loved so much about this practice, but somehow forgot…
Yoga people are really fucking nice
As the room filled up and my self-consciousness of being 15 pounds heavier than my last practice kicked in, I was actually relieved that other students offered friendly, genuine ‘hello’s!’ as they entered. Throughout the practice, no one was there to show off or ‘outdo,’ we all just breathed together.
There’s always something new to learn
When class began, the instructor announced that we’d be spending the entire class working up to one, single, challenging pose. SHIT. As the class progressed, I was fairly certain it was going to be Eagle Pose – one that I’ve always found not just difficult, but super uncomfortable once I was able to get into it. Nothing about this pose ever made sense to me. I wanted to UNWIND, not feel like I was being tied into a knot. But guess what I found out: it was uncomfortable because I’d been doing it wrong the whole time. Katherine broke down the pose into such individual components that I was able to see the difference between what I was doing (squeezing my shoulders and hips and everything else into a tight knot in order to hold the pose) and how it’s supposed to be done (relaxing the shoulders and hips and pressing the elbows and knees together with a gentle lift). Towards the end of class, we were all in Eagle Pose, and I felt my back begin to actually stretch out, and it felt so amazing that I almost cried with relief.
Yoga classes are like mini retreats for the soul
I walked into class exhausted from the work day and super stressed out. With every exhale, all of that melted away. And when it was over, I walked out clear-headed, relaxed, and yet energetic. I felt…happy.
In the past, this excitement would have fueled me to immediately sign up for a daily yoga challenge package or build some kind of unrealistic practice schedule.
But one thing I have learned about myself over the past few years is that I constantly set unrealistic goals, and then feel disappointed in myself when I don’t reach them…
So for now, I’m easing back in slowly, one week at a time.