You would think that, having practiced as a full-time physical therapist for twenty-two years, perhaps I might have taken a few yoga classes for educational purposes? You underestimate both my stubbornness and my aversion to trying new things.
Last weekend I was finally convinced to make the five-minute trip down the mountain to the unofficial “Yoga Barn” in Lost River, West Virginia. Here are five of my personal takeaways… about twenty years too late.
1. You are most likely going to sweat. The static hold positions (planks, downward dogs) require quite a bit of endurance. My core muscles were challenged more than I expected, but you all probably already knew that.
2. If you don’t know what you are doing, look around. There will probably be plenty of other practitioners who have done this a thousand times. Emulate what you see to the degree that you are able to handle. The resident yoga teacher made this suggestion specifically, and I must say that it made me more comfortable as part of the group.
3. Use straps, blocks, or other props to support your positioning if need be. The leg straps, for example, made the supine hamstrings stretches much more achievable while protecting the lower back. Even something as simple as lying flat on your back might be made safer with a small amount of support under the head. The usage of assistive devices depends on your alignment. Ask the yoga teacher for recommendations.
4. Know your body’s limits. Some people have an obscene amount of flexibility, and some people (myself included) do not. Trying to push a range through marked pain is not a good idea, but slightly challenging yourself seemed to work nicely. I do not feel any adverse soreness following my first class. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone.
5. I was thoroughly entertained. About half-way through the class, a woman in front of me fell directly on her face and forward rolled while attempting to perform a crow pose. It was quite the spectacle to watch. Her ego was surely bruised, but she appeared otherwise unharmed.
Image copyright Andrejs Pidjass.