On Yoga

I found a lovely little place a stone’s throw away from my house, the Joyful Yoga Studio. They offer (obviously) yoga classes, as well as Zumba, Pilates, an Indoor Fit Camp, a Body Burn class, and a Total Body Workout class. I picked up a “new student” membership – unlimited classes for two weeks, for $25. Since single classes cost $10, I figured if I went a few times I’d get my money’s worth.

I took a yoga class on Saturday.
I took a yoga class on Sunday.
I took a yoga class this morning.
I’m scanning the schedule to see what else I can fit in during the week.

Saturday’s yoga class was for “all levels”, and was attended by about twenty people. The man who taught the class was, well, kind of aggressive about it. Is that the right word? He seemed to want to get through as many poses as he could in an hour, rushed the transitions without clearly explaining the process, and didn’t provide alternatives to some of the more advanced stances. He used only the Sanskrit terms for the poses (poses are “asanas”! I know that one!), which being a novice I, of course, didn’t follow. So when he said something like, “Go from Adho Mukha Svanasana to Anjaneyasana,” he didn’t explain WHAT those were, nor how to get from one to the other. It made me feel kind of dumb that everyone else in the class seemed to know exactly what to do, so I eyeballed them and tried to copy as best I could. The fact that my feet kept sliding on my NOT sticky mat didn’t help matters (note to self, NO LOTION ON THE FEET right before a class!). The instructor wasn’t too much of a help as he spent his time strolling among the students instead of demonstrating what he was talking about. Oh, except for when it was time to do some very advanced poses – THEN he was all about demonstrating (though it was impressive to see him do a scorpion pose). Kind of like showing off. At least, that was the impression I got. I could be utterly wrong. I might take his class again next Saturday, just to make sure I have the right impression. For some reason I hate to think of a yoga instructor as anything but kind and nurturing, so I’m loathe to go with my gut reaction of him.

Now, Sunday’s class (again for all levels) was like night and day. A female instructed about twelve of us, and she used the Sanskrit AND English terms for each of the asanas. When she noticed that I was struggling with Pigeon Pose (I have exceedingly tight hips), she came over and sat quietly next to me, and demonstrated a pose wherein I instead sit upright with my knees bent in front of me, hands behind me on the mat, then cross my left ankle over my right knee to open up my hips (couldn’t find a name for that one). So I sat there and did that, while I observed the class go from Pigeon Pose to One Legged King Pigeon Pose. She was very clear about how to transition from one pose to the next, and demonstrated everything. I liked her choice in music, too – not the typical yoga music, but a mix of acoustic versions of 70’s/80’s/90’s songs that were peaceful and at the same time entertaining. Songs I knew the words to! By the time I was finished with the class I was relaxed and energized at the same time. I could feel that my muscles had worked (I was stiff from the day before) but nothing was in pain. I will definitely follow this instructor on her schedule.

This morning’s class was listed as “Gentle Yoga”, attended by about ten students. I was actually going to try out the Zumba class later in the morning, but when I woke up my muscles were stiff from doing yoga two days in a row, so it sounded to me like “gentle” yoga would be just the thing to warm up and stretch the muscles that are yelling at me right now. I mean, I haven’t done yoga in AGES and now I’m filling my weekend with it? My body is all, what the HELL is going on here? But in a good way. Anyway, yet another female instructor, who didn’t speak in the low serene monotone I tend to associate with yoga instructors. She used a voice that I think is probably more at home with aerobics or Zumba (yep, I just checked the schedule and she’s one of the Zumba instructors). So it was bright and chirpy and cheerful, but still pleasant and not grating. Now, she didn’t use yoga terminology at all, except for “child’s pose” and “downward dog”. She kept encouraging us to “find the pause in the breath, and the peace in the pause”. This class was more about simple stretching, gentle balancing, and coaxing the body. There were older ladies, and one lady that actually had to use a walker, along with other ladies my age and younger. It was a completely non-taxing class that worked wonders on the stiffness I was feeling when I woke up. Some of the asanas allowed for more advanced modifications, which I used when I felt like it, and skipped when I didn’t. When the class was over I felt just right.

It is still my goal to check out Zumba, and perhaps the Total Body Workout. For right now, though, I seem to really want to be able to do yoga every day. I can tell that if I’m consistent about it, the stiffness in my neck and shoulders will be greatly assisted. Plus, I like the peace of it. I’m finding that being part of a class is much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Up until now I’ve only ever practiced at home, privately, with a DVD. I thought I would feel awkward or embarrassed to practice in front of other people, but we’re all just doing our best within our own skill levels. No competition (well, except a little bit in the first class, it seemed), no peer pressure, no judgement. The studio itself is lovely – large windows, a wall length mirror, parquet floors, and lots and lots of mats, straps, blankets, and blocks. There is only one room for the classes, which makes things less crowded and hectic in the lobby as things can only happen one at a time.

For $75 a month I can have unlimited classes, or a can buy a 10-class punch card for $90. Or, I can just stick to class-to-class for $10 each. Everything is pay as you go, so the no membership thing appeals to me. Right now, though, I’m planning on using the heck out of the remaining time of my two week trial. There’s a Zumba class tomorrow night at 6:15 that I’m thinking of joining, or maybe I’ll skip a day and join the Wednesday 5:00 class. Thursday I’ll either do the 5:00 yoga class, or the 6:15 body burn. I think I’ll do Saturday morning’s 6:15 total body workout, then yoga on Sunday again.

Apparently, I’m rediscovering my motivation.

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12 Responses to On Yoga

  1. crisi-tunity says:

    Needless to say, I am overjoyed to read this post. 🙂

    I don’t believe any instructor should put scorpion pose into an all levels class. That’s a very advanced pose and inappropriate for most people, and teaching it to a varied group of students that includes beginners is pretty inappropriate. I think your interpretation of what he was about was probably spot-on, and if it was me I probably wouldn’t go back to his classes. Go with your gut; yoga teachers are people like everyone else, and there are good ones, bad ones, and ones that just don’t fit with your personality. I should know.

    A lot of teachers get into a groove with the same group of students who come back to all levels classes over and over again, and the level of the class moves up to intermediate so gradually that even the instructor isn’t aware of it. This does not excuse him. If this what’s happening, speak up. Tell the person at the front desk that this didn’t seem like an all-levels class to you, and that the teacher didn’t give you enough in the way of attention, information, or modifications, even though you were obviously a beginner. Either the class should be renamed or the teacher should ease up.

    Also, if you’re stiff the next day from yoga, you’re working too hard. It took me a year and a half of suffering to figure this out. Back off; it’ll come with time.

    I have approximately a billion other tips for you, but I should really just keep them to myself so as not to write a whole other post. My biggest tip is ENJOY!

    • Tiffany says:

      I was hoping you would chime in! I think you’re right, I’ll just go with my gut and not attend his class anymore. Everyone else seemed to be fine with it, so I don’t want to be the element that throws everyone else off, you know?

      I’m assuming that most of my stiffness comes from the fact that, well, I AM stiff, woefully so, and it’s been a long LONG time since I’ve put my body through its full range of motion. I’ve been telling myself not to push, and happily I’m not suffering the hamstring pain that I did the last time I did yoga (at home). Then I didn’t allow for the fact that (again) I hadn’t practiced in a long time, and I pushed myself further than I should have.

      I’m trying to listen to my body. Thus far, it has a lot of complaints. 😀

      Advise away, or send me an e-mail! xo

  2. Taoist Biker says:

    +1 to Crisi-tunity; she oughta know!

    I think if you have someone with whom you’re comfortable, stick with them. That’s my big lesson from marital arts. Anybody can teach you how to throw a punch (and, possibly, do a yoga pose) but not everybody can make you want to come back and do it again week after week. Someone who fits you is golden – rock it!

  3. Kim says:

    So excited for you! The only thing that’s kept me from it is my insane, completely irrational social anxiety that strikes in the most ridiculous of ways. I’m really looking forward to hearing about this new adventure!

  4. Kim says:

    I didn’t mean to reply that to TB, but hi TB!

  5. Kim says:

    I’m dying to try Zumba.

    • Tiffany says:

      It was effective in two ways. One, it made me sweat. Two, it made me feel unbelievably ungraceful. I mean, I *thought* I was a good dancer, but apparently I ain’t got rhythm. AND I can’t get my hands to do one thing on a beat, while my feet are doing something else on an alternating beat. Just can’t.

      • Taoist Biker says:

        Solution to the latter: Rock Band drums!

      • Dyskinesia says:

        I was just looking at some Zumba stuff too – it looks like so much fun! Interestingly, you can actually find a lot of Zumba stuff on YouTube and try it in front of a computer screen at home if you want to look less like an ass in public your ‘first’ time. And hey, it’s cheap. Not quite the same feeling as being in a line of people who know what they are doing – that would be an awesome energy, but still!

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