I recently took my first yoga class. It's a different form of exercise than my usual fare of running, cycling, walking, and strength training. I knew there would be a great deal of stretching, which is why I attended the class in the first place, but I was surprised to find that many yoga poses require a certain amount of strength, and there is also an emphasis on balance. I struggled with the flexibility poses, but I did surprisingly well on the poses that required balance and coordination.
There are a lot of poses in yoga, and I hardly remember any of them. I do remember "downward facing dog" and "cobra." There was also something about a cat, a pigeon, a warrior, and a sequence called the sun salutation, which I hardly remember at all. I suppose I'll learn them as I go.
I already knew that I needed to work more on my flexibility, but as the class started, it became woefully apparent just how tight my muscles were, especially my hips, lower back, and hamstrings. I displayed all the flexibility and grace of a 44 year old man who has been a couch potato most of his adult life. I remember one pose where the teacher told us to hold it, and then inch forward until our muscles told us to stop. Well, my muscles were already informing me that there's no way they were going to stretch any further. Just getting into the starting position was enough stretching for me!
Fortunately, yoga class isn't a contest. I was the obvious beginner in the class, as well as the elder statesman. I'm pretty sure I was at least 20 years older than everyone else in the room, and while most of the students seemed to effortlessly flow from one pose to the next, I struggled the whole way. At times I looked ridiculous, but nobody laughed. Everyone was working at their own level, and my level happened to be total beginner.
I enjoyed the atmosphere of the class. In my younger days, I was into bodybuilding for a few years. Although I enjoyed the bodybuilding training, I didn't always like the atmosphere of the gym, especially when some testosterone filled dude would start yelling and grunting. The yoga class was tranquil, and since I'm not exactly rolling in money these days, I also appreciate the minimal equipment requirements. All you really need is a mat. Even I can afford that!
It's fun to be a beginner at something again, knowing that I'm about ready to tap into a new world of knowledge. I'm not really taking yoga for yoga's sake. Instead, I'm using it to gain some flexibility to balance running and cycling. Still, I find it interesting enough that I want to learn more. I just ordered a beginning yoga DVD so I can learn some of the basic poses at home, and I'm looking forward to coming back to my new yoga class once a week.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.