I have been attending Yoga classes for a month or so now and I think I now have a modicum of experience which allows me to share my first impressions. Having spent my life participating in sports with a harder, faster, stronger ethos, yoga always seemed to me to be a sidebar in my life. Something I would eventually get to, but never did.
I have now attended a series of yoga classes with different instructors, on the advice given to me by a woman at my club. She had suggested not making my judgement on yoga until I had tried a series of classes with different instructors.
One class I went to seemed focused on muscle strength and the ability to hold tentative poses for a long time. I figured that since I lift weights this would be easy. But it wasn't. And when we did the exercise designed to move you closer to being able to do the splits, I realized just how inflexible I have become. And I thought, I want to do that. I want to be able to do the splits again.
Another class focused on multiple short poses seemingly designed for opening up parts of the body that are seldom stretched in real life. It was amazing. We did a pose with the blocks which opened up my spine and chest area and it felt so good, I could have held it forever.(See below)The instructor was young and assumed that nobody knew the poses and so it was great for a beginner like me.
And the third instructor took us through a series of contortions that I found difficult to coordinate. I followed it exactly through the whole class and thought that this went against all the ideas of what yoga should be. Complex, difficult, and always thinking. And I realized that it is a combination of my learning curve and stretching parts of me that do not get stretched that was causing me to lose my Zen. But after the class, as I went through my day, I felt amazing. My body felt limber, and seemed to be there at my command.
Despite all my different abilities in fitness, I have never achieved that mind body congruence that was hinted at in my first month of yoga. I now understand what all the excitement is about. I like where the first month and eight classes have taken me. From skeptic to zealot, I think I will continue with this and see where it takes me.
Here is a great pose for stretching a part of your back that until now was only attainable by a visit to the chiropractor. You will be surprised at how effective it is. And you can replace the blocks with anything soft like towel stacks.