Yoga for beginners

6 03 2011

The primordial “OOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM” echoes through a darkened room. Nine men and women ranging in age from 25 to about 65 sit on their mats laid out on the bamboo parquet floor and call on the forces of the universe to strengthen them. A ceiling fan above whirrs quietly.

OM. The most important mantra of yoga.

Yes, I am trying out yoga for the first time. No, I have not yet joined the ranks of the truly esoteric. Though the smell of the aromatherapy essential oil in the room is slowly going to my head.

In the past couple of months, many of my friends have told me yoga would be good for me. Not only as a sharp contrast to all the exercise and physical activity I do, but also to help me calm down and relearn healthy sleep. So, I thought, if it works for everyone else, I’d like to see if it would really work for me.

From afar, and as a hopelessly practical, realistic and grounded member of the human race, I always thought yoga was something for spaced-out 60’s flower-power wannabes who either mourned the passing of time or were born a generation too late. Or for those who recently read “Eat Pray Love”.

The first class I attend, on a bright and fresh Wednesday morning, is taught by Gina, a very nice, petite yet strong-looking woman in her thirties. She welcomes me, the newbie, and makes me feel comfortable in a room full of folks who know each other and seem to have been doing this for a while already. The course is listed as “Basic – Level 1” but for the next 90 minutes, I have serious trouble keeping up and keeping my balance. I periodically peek through supposedly closed eyes at everyone else to make sure I’m doing this right. Every so often, petite, strong Gina comes by to introduce me to muscles I never knew I had.

Some of the positions I learn in my first 90-minute yoga torture session include: cat cow, downward dog (an alledgedly “relaxing” pose), child’s pose (oh, feel that pain!), warriors I, II and III, triangle pose, and the classic: tree pose. Deep breathing exercises are the core of yoga, and I now better understand how that can aid in bringing stability and centered-ness into one’s being. Or at least how you get a really good temporary oxygen high.

And if nothing else, my first yoga class instills in me a new respect for the practice. For the first time ever, I realize how truly physically challenging this is. It’s really hard! Makes me break out in a sweat even though it doesn’t really look like I’m doing anything all too strenuous.

But the whole time I still don’t think I’m doing this right. Maybe I didn’t call on the forces of the universe with sufficient conviction. Maybe I need to practice my “OM” some more.

I wonder if Gina will let me back in next week.

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2 responses

6 03 2011
Ironic Mom

Someone once told me you have to give yoga a few months. And you’re right: it’s so much harder than it looks (and downward dog rarely feels like a rest). But I do love it, even if I don’t make enough time for it.

Namaste, my friend.

6 03 2011
René Sollberger

Wow – or should I say OOOMMMMM, this really sounds like torture. How can anyone do this voluntarily?

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