Updated: Jan 16, 2022
Since I’m about as flexible as the tin man, the prospect of taking my first yoga class was a bit daunting. But last Friday I overcame my hesitations and went to class. I managed to survive with my joints, muscles, and dignity intact so I’d consider it a smashing success!
As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been doing strength training in some form or another for over 20 years, but have decided to make a foray into yoga because:
I think the mental and physical benefits of yoga will complement my current training.
I hope that sharing my experience might lead others to consider trying yoga.
As a personal trainer, I ask my clients to leave their exercise and nutrition comfort zones. By leaving my comfort zone to try something new, I feel this will help me to understand their journey, fears, and struggles. Perhaps I’ll even be a better trainer because of it.
In preparation for my first class, I wanted to know what to wear. Since most women seem to wear tights, I imagined that men might wear something different, but a quick online search revealed that many men choose to wear tights during yoga too. Personally, I decided that I wasn’t quite ready to, uh, reveal just that much of myself yet so I opted for a pair of comfortable shorts and a tank top.
Prior to class, I was able to grab a mat and find a spot in the yoga studio. However, I just stood there awkwardly waiting until I was told I could lie down until class began. Fortunately, there were only a couple of us attending class in-person (many are still participating virtually due to Covid), so I didn’t feel like too much of a dunderhead. Note to all future yogis, go in, sit down and relax on your mat. If you have questions, ask the teacher. They love to help.
Interestingly, lying on my back with my legs straight out made my lower back feel a little creaky at first as I would not normally lie in this position. However, as we began focusing on breathing at the beginning of the class, the discomfort slowly disappeared.
My favorite part of the class followed this as we spent some time working on loosening up the body. We did some gentle arching and rounding of our backs, moved our knees back and forth like windshield wipers while lying on our backs, and did something similar with our feet while lying on our stomachs. These were all really simple movements, but they revealed to me just how limited my range of motion really is. Also, it felt good to be moving in ways that I might not otherwise do on a typical day.
When we got into the “flow” portion of the class, it got considerably more difficult for me. Although the instructor was very good at describing and demonstrating each of the positions, I found it difficult to move through the poses, find my balance, and remain braced through my core when asked. My feet also hurt a bit at first as I struggled to distribute my weight properly. As the class went on I managed to remember something about maintaining a “tripod foot” which really helped.
At the end of the class we did a pose called Savasana where you basically lie on your back and relax. As before, my lower back was a bit creaky when I first laid down, but completely dissipated much more quickly this time.
We focused on our breathing here and it was almost meditative. Or at least that’s what I think we did. I might have been asleep. If not, I was probably pretty close. As a parent, I would literally pay for a whole class of this. Yoga naps. I think that should be a thing.
All in all, I think my first class went very well. Most importantly for me, I overcame my fear of feeling like a beginner at something after 20+ years of feeling like an expert in strength training.
And being a dude in yoga doesn’t make the women look at you like you don’t fit in. Like most things, people seem to be more focused on themselves than you anyway.
Finally, I was able to identify some limitations in my body or, as I like to say, “opportunities for improvement”. Afterwards I felt great and I can’t wait to do my next class to work on them.
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve described some things as difficult. This might be off-putting for someone considering yoga. However, I want to encourage you that a little difficulty isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In most instances, effort is the path to progress. This is as true in yoga as it is in strength training and even life. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. Sometimes a little discomfort is just what you need to grow.
I invite you to join me next week as I share my thoughts and experiences as I go deeper into the world of yoga.
Mark Young, BKin, is Head Personal Trainer at Heron Creek Yoga & Fitness, a locally-owned health facility located in the Ancaster Rotary Centre at 385 Jerseyville Rd W. Contact us for top quality professional care at our 10,000 sq ft facility which has plenty of equipment, a dedicated Yoga studio, and much more. Email: email@example.com, phone 905-648-4571, ig @heroncreekyogaandfitness, fb heroncreekyogaandfitness