Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Loud-mouthed Runner Reflects on Her First Yoga Class

Quiet. Introspective. Serene.

None of these words have ever been used to describe me. Ev-er.

So when I was told by a physical therapist that I would really benefit from yoga due to lower back, 
ITB, and general lack of flexibility issues, I balked a bit. Okay maybe more than a bit  - you would’ve thought she had suggested I cut off both my legs and thrust the rest of my body into a cauldron of boiling oil, the way I reacted.
I mean yoga is scary. I got a yoga clothing catalog in the mail a couple of days ago and, no kidding, this is what was on the cover:
That pretty much sums it up: impossible poses, held silently for a really long time, while everybody finds their inner Zen. I really only had three problems with yoga: 1) the impossible poses, 2) being held silently for a really long time, 3) while everybody finds their inner Zen.

You see, I am not really good at stretching, being quiet, or Zen. But despite all that, I still went to my first yoga class yesterday.

Here were the discoveries I made about myself in a yoga class:
1) Evidently I can be separated from my Internet umbilical cord for sixty minutes without death ensuing. Had been wondering.

2) I can still put forth significant physical effort without Ratt or some other 80s hair band blaring in my ears. Difficult, but possible.

Here were my discoveries about yoga, as a class:
1) There was nary an incense candle or a Buddhist monk to be found. Go figure.

2) In yoga, “we don’t use the word ‘pain’, we use the word ‘energy.’” Um… yeah. Just because you don’t call it pain, doesn’t mean you don’t feel it. I felt a whole lot of “energy.”

Also, this “no pain” motto is the total opposite of distance runners. We distance runners are pretty infatuated with our pain. At any given run/race you’ll find t-shirts: Pain is weakness leaving the body, No Pain, no gain, Pain is temporary, quitting is forever. We wear our pain like a badge. So taking part in something that denies the existence of pain was… different.

3) In yoga, you breathe in through your nose and out through your nose. Uh oh. As a runner, I breathe in through my mouth and out through my mouth. Actually, as a runner, I pretty much suck in oxygen any way I can.

4) Evidently it’s not appropriate to yell out, “Alright ya’ll – we’ve got this. Let’s keep pushing!” three-quarters of the way through a yoga class. Note to self…

5)The last five minutes of class was spent laying on our backs “concentrating on our breathing” . To a mother of four, that equated to nap time. But they woke me up eventually.

I guess what’s important is I survived my first yoga class. I wouldn’t necessarily say it is my favorite activity, but I can definitely see the benefits. And I have committed myself to continuing classes at least twice a week for the month of February, to find out if it is really for me. We’ll see.

Namaste. Gesundheit.


  1. This was by far, the best and funniest thing I have ever read about yoga. Thanks for the laugh! Great post.

  2. You survived a whole yoga class? GO YOU! It's much harder than it looks - I've never liked the idea that it can both be ridiculously difficult and ridiculously boring at the same time. And I also almost doze off every time we're supposed to be finding inner peace ;) Great post!

  3. My sister does yoga. There aren't any classes offered around here, so she does yoga videos. I'm not allowed to be around when she's doing it, I guess my laughing destroys the zen. :) Enjoy your classes!