I went to yoga for the first time in a long, long while. I am experienced enough to know that I need to grab a mat, 2 blocks, and blanket before the class starts, but other than that, I’m a complete noob. I don’t know any of the terms, and I get my lefts and rights mixed up all the time. I have been working out my cardio consistently in the past few weeks, but tonight’s yoga adventures made me feel weaker than I have since before my first time back to the gym.
I got there right before the class started, so I managed to snag a spot in the last place left: with the obvious Yoga Masters, who were doing intimidating warm-up stretches. Great. I got the last spot on the floor, so my poor rear end was facing the big glass doors into the gym where all the manly men were working out with their weights and their glorious, glorious TVs. Instantly I regretted leaving the comfort of my elliptical machine and HGTV to make a fool out of myself with these half-human half-cat people. I consoled myself by thinking at least my husband would walk by once and see my rear end looking good in the air. (Incidentally, I succeeded.)
In the beginning after a few stretches, our yoga instructor had us “float” to the back of the mat. We could either walk or jump. But her version of jumping was more like gliding into a handstand and hovering backward slowly until she reached the back. It was incredible. My jaw dropped every time she did it. I’m still convinced that she’s not human, she’s a cat. I will hereby refer to her affectionately as Catwoman.
Within the first 15 minutes, I wanted to die. I wanted to heave up my grilled chicken and vegetable dinner, collapse upon my shaking knees, and have an asthma attack. Seriously? I thought. Is something wrong with me? I’ve been eating healthy for months and I’ve been running at least 2 miles at the gym for the past couple of weeks. I started to convince myself that maybe I was allergic to my anti-gluten diet. Wasn’t yoga supposed to be calming and soul searching? What happened to namaste?!
While I doubted my life as I knew it, Catwoman started to move into the second phase of our workout. It involved a complicated pretzel-like movement that I found difficult to imitate with my impossibly tight hamstrings. My legs would not straighten all the way. Ever. We went into some lunge position with our right leg behind us, and then we would find various positions of torture to withstand while breathing along with the instructor. Honestly, at times I felt like I was hyperventilating. I could never inhale and exhale at the right time; I was even a noob at breathing.
“Keep your back leg straight. Stand firmly into the ground, feel the strength,” commanded Catwoman.
Nice try, lady. You’re lucky I’m still on my feet.
“Now, circle around and put your left foot behind you.”
I always forget that with yoga, you have to match the workout on the right and left hand side. I had just survived the 10 minute stretch for the right side, and now I had to endure the left side. Not only that, but putting pressure on my left foot triggers an injury I obtained while attempting to eat healthier at Whole Foods a few months earlier. (See a trend here? Healthy is killing me.) I had walked out of Whole Foods and promptly slipped on a patch of grass and landed straight on the top of my foot, probably fracturing some tiny bones and most definitely bruising my tendon. I still have some gnarly scars, and ghost pain that gives me an excuse to walk around without shoes at work.
So here I was, putting all my strength into my left foot, obediently spreading my toes, when: What the?! Is that a toe cramp?! Oh yeah. It was a toe cramp all right. All the happy thoughts went straight out of me as I clutched my aching foot. Luckily, I survived. I breathed a sigh of relief and shot up a prayer of thanks as we moved into the third phase of the workout. My legs were shaking so hard it was embarrassing.
Thankfully, Catwoman had us lie on our backs next. We did an interesting move that involved placing our foot on top of our open palms. At first I could only get one foot up close enough to cover my hand, but I figured out how to wiggle my butt enough to cheat and get my other foot closer. We raised our sacrums in the air (at this point apparently my husband walked by) and held that position for a while.
I stole a glance at the clock and saw we had only been at this for 40 minutes, and we had another 30 to go. I groaned and held back a little tear. It took every ounce of emotional, mental, and physical energy to keep me going. I got through the rest of the workout, stealing moments of rest where I could. I would reflect on how tight my muscles were, and what I put them through every day with my 10 hour sedentary desk job and bad posture at the computer.
When we finally finished our workout softly (yet victoriously), I felt a sense of accomplishment and quietness in my soul. Perhaps it was the oxygen that was finally making it to all parts of my body. Either way, it felt good. Maybe one day I’ll be less of a noob and more of a Catwoman myself. Until then, I’m going to go show off my new moves to my curious hubby.