People, many people, have been on me for years to try yoga, and I have been resistant.
I have been resistant for many reasons, not the least of which was totally narcissistic.
I don’t like the way I look in normal life, so how was I going to look trying to do poses and stretches that I know I cannot do?
So it was a trust issue also, in that I needed to trust the instructor wasn’t going to “call me out”, and that my inability wasn’t going to become the “class joke”.
So I hemmed and hawed, found reasons to not seek out a group (“I don’t want to go alone”, “I can’t afford it”, “I want to go alone”), and languished in my inability to sit without feeling like I was in knots.
The something happened, and I couldn’t find a reason to NOT try it.
During a meeting one of the staff, Benjamin Conrow, mentioned that he was a certified yoga instructor and would like to offer classes to all staff during the week after work. For free.
No way out of this one …
So I agreed to give it a try, and dutifully grabbed my yoga mat (unused since I purchased it three years ago) and threw it in the car along with a bag of loose fitting clothes, and after work last Tuesday changed in the bathroom and walked over to our meeting hall to participate in this yoga thing. I was joined by 6 others (all women), which included my Director.
Great. Look like an ass in front of the boss.
Some of my fears came to a head right away. I am not flexible. 5 years on the bike, coupled with decades of under use, and throw in some arthritis as a topper, has made my body …. off. No other way to describe it. Ben started us out with simple sitting and breathing, and I couldn’t do that. Within 5 minutes my legs and feet were asleep, and I discovered that I cannot sit upright on the floor with my legs in front of me straight with toes pointed up. My hips will not let me. My legs splay out to the side and toes point outward.
But here was the thing … it was OK. He noticed the issue, but addressed the class, not me directly, and said if we could hold a pose or position it was fine, to just do what we could.
I was starting to relax and enjoy it.
Benjamin took us through a series of sitting poses and breathing poses. I had quite a few “stitches” as I always do when I try to stretch, especially in my rib cage. I could barely do some of the things he was walking us through, but I felt that it was OK, and never felt like I was being “watched” or “judged”.
Was it frustrating to me? Yes, to be honest. At times it was. When we were going through the cat, cow, and dog poses I was very frustrated with my inability to hold the poses for very long. I thought I was stronger than this. I can bench press 220 pounds 5 times, but could not hold a downward dog for a minute.
And I was sweating … man oh man was I sweating. My heart rate was firmly in the 120’s, which was good for me, but sweat was pouring off of me.
I found it easier to do the warrior poses, although my heels and feet did start to cramp up at the end. Moving from Warrior 1 to Warrior 2 and to Peaceful Warrior was not that hard for me, and I was able to hold those poses for the duration. I guess all that biking and running did make a slight difference.
At the end he had us lay back and be still, and he talked us through some relaxation. It was great. I felt so calm and peaceful, and I never feel calm and peaceful.
I enjoyed the experience overall, and will be going again. He is offering it twice a week, so it will become a part of my weekly plan I think, and I know that will make more than a few people happy. I am assured that it will get better and my flexibility will return, though I am a little skeptical about it. We will see.
Benjamin runs his own business called “The Travelin’ Yogi“. If you are in the Tampa area give him a call. I am sure you will not be disappointed.