Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Yoga: The First Night

When I fully commit to something, I usually don't mess around. So after my last visit to the sleep specialist I decided to enrol in a beginner's course in yoga, the first night of which was last night.

As the hour drew near, I found myself thinking that I'd rather stay home and watch a movie or read a book or play some video games. I was feeling tired as per usual and I started resenting the fact that I'd enrolled in the course. I thought that yoga was a new age bit of wankery that only materialistic Westerners indulged in, etc. This is the kind of stupid thinking I go through when I'm feeling nervous.

All that faded away once I was inside the studio and on my mat, in the front row of a group of about thirty people. What I quickly discovered was that there was no time to think about body image issues or how silly I looked doing the poses or even anything about the world outside the yoga class. I was simply too busy trying to keep up with the instructor.

And she really knew her stuff. She had a smooth, pleasant voice, didn't stutter or mumble, and filled in the empty gaps between poses with general yoga tips. She took us through Mountain, Tree, Child, Boat and Corpse pose, all of which have Sanskrit names that I won't bother looking up just now, but the English names are all very apt. I especially liked Tree and Mountain pose because, for whatever reason, they gave me little tingles of endorphins, and Vishnu knows I need them.

I sweated, I grunted, I did my best to stretch and concentrate on breathing with my belly, both of which I discovered I am terrible at. My legs are as inflexible as a Romanian grandmother (and I know this, because I have one), my nose lets in air like clenched buttocks don't, and my belly can't make up its mind whether it wants to go in or out.

But none of this mattered. I was using my body and it felt good.

The class took a total of 75 minutes, but it felt like a lot less. As we came to the end, candlelight replaced artificial light and New Age music took over from the voice of the instructor (or should that be teacher?). I lay on my back and closed my eyes, trying desperately to forget about the rest of the world as an assistant came round and dumped an eye pillow on my face. She must have seen me flinch, because I heard her warn the next person along.

The music faded out and a gentle gong rang out across the room; once, twice. We all sat up and while the teacher told us the meaning of namaste, the gong fell off its stand and banged against the wall. Normally this would have been cause for a gasp or a small scream, but in our relaxed state, no one seemed to notice, and when the teacher told us to pretend it didn't happen, we had already forgotten about it.

Even though I'm not entirely sure I'll stick with it after I complete the eight week course, my first experience with yoga is definitely a positive one, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the course.


rand(om) bites said...

What a great read and I'm so glad you weren't scared off like I was to start with. You've got an ace teacher!

rand(om) bites said...

That photo cracks me up every time I see it and now it's on my office desk, reminding me not to take it all so bloody seriously :-)

Linda said...

Good to hear it went well Dan :)

Jules said...

Thanks to your lovely lady I started yoga this week and so did my hubby. We both enjoyed the peace it gave us and I am hearing you big time about the nose breathing. I kept feeling like there was no way in bloody hell that my breath could come out anymore. Great read.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

It's an asskicker of a workout, ain't it? Dammit. Now I gotta get my ass back in the gym.

Daniel Hatadi said...

Thanks Linda and Jules!

Stephen, yoga is a virus and it's spreading fast.

Linda L. Richards said...

Well told, Daniel. I'm looking forward to hearing about your further adventures.

For my part, I'd like to try yoga, but have not. I made butter chicken curry and muttar paneer last night though, does that count? (Don't answer that. It does not count.)

Josephine Damian said...

Congratulations on the Spinetingler award, Dan!

Hope you are getting some sleep after your contortion act is over.

Daniel Hatadi said...

Thanks Josephine! And yes, the sleep is improving slightly. :)