Taking The First Big Step Forward
After signing up to David Lloyd Healthclub for the first time yesterday, I decided to attend my very first yoga class. My previous gym did not have these sorts of classes on offer, and I never wanted to pay extra to try it in a separate school. I selected Power Yoga, because I think of myself as an energetic person used to high impact classes, usually requiring a lot of work. I was advised at the front desk that it could be the best class for me.
I am not a "yoga person", am I?
I have been into fitness and sports all my life, but have never had a chance to try a proper yoga class. This first lesson taught me that I have been already using many elements of yoga during my stretching routines, without even knowing it! I've always read about yoga as a new trend and a type of Spiritual Art. To be honest, that kind of scared me away from it. I imagined a bunch of boring old people with bare feet, wearing tight leotards, stretching in candle-lit rooms full of incense smoke. As far as the “spiritual” aspect, I never really had a clear idea of what that could mean. I suppose I will learn as I continue doing yoga classes...
It's not so easy!
I was expecting the class to be very calming, relaxing and quiet. I decided to get to the gym a bit early to get my usual proper workout, assuming that the yoga class will be more of an hour and a half stretching class, not a workout itself. Boy, was I wrong! I trained for 15 minutes on my favorite cross trainer, breaking a good sweat. I came to the yoga room five minutes before time, but discovered that the group had already arrived and spread out their mats all over.
I guess there are some differences with other group classes where people often come precisely on time or just a little late, which is a bit disruptive and unpleasant to others but generally acceptable. The yogis at this class all appeared before time to reserve their spots. I can imagine that coming late to a yoga class can not only be distracting for others, but also a atmosphere killer! There was definitely a certain “mood” , the lights were dimmed, and everyone was quiet.
There was a range of people, from very young to a bit older. The majority were women, but there were also more men than I anticipated. There were even two couples; I saw them picking up their kids from the gym crèche after class.
What yoga gear to bring?
Some people were wearing simple sweat pants and T-shirts; others had special brand name yoga clothing and accessories like mats and blocks. All that did not seem to matter because I wore my normal workout clothes and the gym provides mats and disinfection solution to clean them before and after use. That service certainly scored points with me, because I was fearing the “bare feet” of others on shared mats. Personally, I will probably invest in my own mat in the future, but it’s great that they are available to use.
Yoga Feels Good!
The class was wonderful! I had a really good time, and a (quiet) giggle. I was laughing at myself, as I tried to imitate the weird poses of other more experienced people. It is actually quite hard to look at the teacher and follow her moves while being totally upside down! I was totally astonished at how flexible our instructor was, and at how smoothly she changed from one pose to another. I would have never guessed that if I just saw her on the street. I guess I still have some growing up to do, since I couln't help but laugh when instructed to "relax my genitals" - that was a first during a group exercise class!
Kumbhaka Pranayama, Jalandhara, Mula Bandhas. Can we Have That in English Please?
I had a hard time repeating the poses when hearing their proper names; it was hard enough to follow the class in Dutch to begin with! It turned out later that many people in the room were English speakers, and once the teacher figured that out, she added more instructions in both languages. From what I heard, some names of poses are English sounding, but I have yet to learn more.
More yoga in store?
Overall, I left the class feeling great. Not only happy and relaxed, but I had a real workout. I did not realize how much strength and flexibility it would require. It turns out that Power Yoga does require more physicality than other types of yoga classes, so it was the perfect class for me. I think I did pretty well for the first time, doing all stands properly, although I am not sure if the teacher would agree with me here. ;) I did not manage to stand on my head, but I sure have a new goal set for my future classes.
Meet the Teacher
After the class, I talked to our teacher, who welcomed all my questions happily. It turns out that she is quite a well known yoga instructor, and teaches in several schools across Amsterdam, and also organizes yoga retreats. She is really passionate about it! She explained to me, and a few other beginners about different types of yoga styles, suggesting that we start with Hatha Yoga if we want to learn to do poses slowly and properly, as well as learning more about the names.
Was it a "Spiritual" experience?
One step at a time! I already signed up for Ashtanga Yoga tomorrow morning; a new style, with a new instructor. I was simply too engaged in trying to do things right, and to remember to breathe! I think I still feel overwhelmed by the amount of information to discover the “spiritual” part of yoga for now. I’m sure that that part will come with time…