Eyes closed, crouched in Child’s Pose, I have come to an interesting conclusion: Yoga can be stressful.
Inhale. I think about a negative interaction I had at work today. Exhale. Am I doing this right? I inhale the problems of the day deep into my lungs. I exhale the ability to fully relax my mind.
I know most people find inner peace and relaxation when they practice yoga, but I’ve learned that I have an extremely hard time turning my brain off for an activity unless I am overexerting myself. When I go to the gym, for example, my brain can go into autopilot because I am listening to a carefully selected playlist of upbeat or angry music and I don’t have to think about how to correctly position myself every 30 seconds.
Recently, I’ve found myself caught in an exercise rut. I felt like I needed to start incorporating flexibility in my regimen. Simultaneous to the realization of my current exercise boredom was the discovery of Sweat and Soul Yoga, conveniently located two minutes from my job.
The few times I have tried yoga, I have always left the experience feeling “meh”. I don’t hate it but I certainly haven’t fallen in love, either. But I figured, what the hell – why not challenge myself to do something I normally would never do. I’m going to try hot yoga.
The room was warm and cozy. I expected it to feel like a jungle, but the 85 degrees was perfect for a cold-blooded person like myself. I thought – this is similar to wrapping myself in a comforter-cocoon except I will actually be burning calories. Win/win.
We began slowly and I was enjoying myself. As soon as we picked up the pace, I was lost. I mean, I kind of followed it, but no one was helping me or giving me cues to proper technique so I felt like I was flailing around like a ragdoll – similar to when I attempt dancing, but much less fun. Warrior pose to plank to upward dog to downward dog to warrior pose. Um, what?
That wasn’t even the hard part. I eventually got that basic technique. I won’t say that my form was remotely close to correct, but I went through the motions with an expression on my face that read ‘I know what I’m doing. I’m basically a vinyasa pro, obvs.’ Then there came some crazy pretzel pose of which I don’t recall the name because I was too busy thinking ‘what the F?’ These other chicks are flying through it before the yogi gave the next instructions. This is an all level class, mind you. “Beginners are welcome and encouraged to join!” I must have missed the fine print: “But if you are a beginner, you will spend the entire class looking around trying to figure out what the hell you are supposed to be doing, thus only getting a workout like 20% of the time. Oh, and you will feel inadequate when you can not fold yourself into a pretzel while standing on one leg.”
There was about 40 more minutes of quick moving, during which I decided to focus on the amazing hip hop soundtrack playing in the background. I agree, Rihanna, please DON’T stop the music, because as soon as you do I will be reminded that it is somehow humanly possible to contort your body like Gumby… and that I am incapable of doing it.
The music slowed to Destiny’s Child “Emotion” and the cool down began. Instead of relaxing what should be overworked muscles, I was laying there thinking how frustrated I was with my inability to calm down.
The volume of the music gently lowers as “Let it Be” begins to play. The volume of my thoughts stays exactly the same as it always is – dull and constant. I guess I have no other choice than to just let it be. It’s the end of the class, so there is no changing me now. Maybe next time.