Sunday, December 31, 2006

Eat Your Yoga

If you were to plot my yoga life, it would look like a bell curve. Currently, I am on the tail end working my way backwards towards a more regular practice. Yesterday morning I went to a yoga class at Yoga Shala in Five Points. The schedule said it was a Level 1 and 2 class so I assumed it would be a combination of the gentle to moderate stretching I was craving to ease my muscles and my mind.

I walked into the class and the teacher was in a headstand, which should have been my first warning. I hadn't brought my own mat because I couldn't find it as I raced out the door at 8:00 am on a Saturday morning. So I stood around feeling awkward--the same feeling as when you are waiting for someone to finish a private conversation. I did not want to disturb her pose, but I also needed to know where the mats were, whether I needed to fill out any paperwork as a first-timer to the studio, and how to pay. I found the mats, the sign-in sheet, and the offering bowl on my own and settled into a corner, measuring an arm's length distance to the wall.

As the class start grew nearer, people were packing in. Before I knew it, I was six inches from the wall and from my closest neighbor. Thirteen sardine yogis, with the teacher promising a gentle class to close out the year.

After a few brief moments of sitting quietly, we started right in with standing forward bend into downward dog and plank. The teacher kept instructing us to find the "yummy" and "delicious" place in our hips while in downward dog. We made our way through alot of poses, many of which I would consider advanced: cobra, camel, pigeon, one legged king pigeon, dolphin, sideways plank, multiple versions of warrior, triangle, and other sideways twists. And eventually, some folks in the class were doing headstands!

I was angry, and there is no place in yoga for anger. This was not a level 1 and 2 class. This was a level 2 and 3 class. I was not feeling yummy, I was feeling gipped. Standing behind the class, the teacher told us we looked beautiful but all I could see from wide angle standing forward bend was my neighbors crotch six inches from my face. I did not feel beautiful. I went to yoga class to feel good and to feel good about my body, but all I was feeling was frustration, the tremble in my legs, and my sweaty t-shirt.

To be fair, 10 of the 13 people in the class were regulars and I know that often times yoga classes evolve to meet the needs of the regular students. However, I think it would have been nice had the class been correctly advertised. When I woke up this morning, my hamstrings and my neck and shoulders were not delicious, they were painful.

Tonight we are going to a gentle yoga class, which will hopefully unwind yesterday's efforts.


Liz said...

I worry so much that this is what will happen to me since I've decided that this year I'm going to start doing yoga to help me relax. There are a few yoga studios here in the Silverlake/Hollywood area and I'm a complete novice. I guess I'll have to just take the plunge and go for it.

Kate said...

This experience was definitely not a positive one, but I quickly reversed it. Different studio, different teacher. Don't be concerned. You can definitely find a good yoga studio, particularly in your area, just start with something gentle. And I would also recommend trying out several different classes and choosing the one that you like best. In my opinion, yoga should not hurt.
I'm not an expert, but shoot me an email if you have any questions.