Don and I were feeling the burn last week when we took our local Core Power Yoga studio up on its offer of a free week trial. Yeah, thats right an entire WEEK of FREE yoga! What could be better?
Neither Don nor I had ever done yoga in any serious sort of setting. I occasionally do some yoga here at home, mostly Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube, on days when I just can’t get it together to do any other sort of exercise or on days when I’m feeling particularly stiff and sore and old. I think the closest Don has come to going yoga is his post-run stretching. Neither of us is very flexible, and we both hope to become a little more bendy by conscientiously reminding our bodies to streeeetch and move in ways that do not involve running or lifting (or sitting or lying down peacefully in a hammock).
We started on a Monday evening, and, unfortunately for those of us who like a nice early bedtime on a work night, the only beginner’s class that fit into our schedule began at 8:45 that night. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was a little nervous to be doing yoga in public with others around to witness, but I thought that a yoga session right before bed sounded like a very relaxing thing. We were greeted by a yoga instructor named Leah who is quite possibly the most enthusiastic person I have ever met and she seemed overjoyed that she got to be our very first yoga instructor in the very first yoga class of our lives. If she hadn’t seemed so genuinely happy and upbeat, I would have rolled my eyes at her, but, you guys, this girl is the real deal. Just being in the same room with her made me see everything through rose-colored lenses; her sweat should probably be bottled and sold as an antidepressant.
As the class began, it seemed like Leah was trying to tell us what she had for dinner (Chana Masala?) or that she has obscure taste in music (Chaka Kahn?) or maybe she had made a really good point about something and wanted to drop the mic on her way out (BOOM shakala!). It turns out that the series of movements we complete to get from one pose to another in yoga (essentially going from standing to a high plank, to low plank, to an upward facing dog) is called a chaturanga dandasana. Say that one five times real fast. The class began with a brief demonstration of the movements, a lesson in how to breathe, and advice to do what we can, and, if we needed to check in with our breath at any time, to get back into child’s pose and take a minute.
I loved the yoga. I loved it so incredibly much. This is how the studio gets people to join; they offer you a free week, you get hooked, and then you crave that awesome feeling. On our first two days of the trial, we attended level 1 classes which, according to the CPY literature, is great for people without yoga experience (ME!). On day three, the only class we could attend was a level 2 class that CPY recommends you have some yoga experience for (2 days is ‘some’ right?), and this was a reach for both of us; Don actually spent a good portion of the hour in child’s pose “checking in with his breath.” Over the weekend, we tried some of the Yoga Sculpt classes that combine yoga with some lifting of light weights with a lot of repetitions, and I think I got the best workouts I’ve had in a while in these classes.
I thought the yoga would be a little bit of a workout and very relaxing, and I completely underestimated the physical challenges that would present themselves. At one point when I was bending forward to hang my torso in rag doll pose, my sweat started trickling into my nostrils; I was literally drowning in my own sweat.
By the time Sunday, the last day of our trial, rolled around, I was all chaturanga’d out. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea, as someone who had never done yoga in an instructional setting, to go every day for a week without a break, but the frugal New Englander in me just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a FREE class. My Dad once told me that I should never turn down a free meal (solid advice, for sure) and I’ve taken that sage wisdom and applied it to… everything. I love free, and I loved the yoga, so it only seemed appropriate that I yoga until I couldn’t yoga anymore.
While I struggled to lift my arms at the end of the week (shoulders, so sore), and hold the chair pose for any length of time (quads, so sore), each day I could feel my hamstrings lengthen and my body become more flexible overall. I will definitely try yoga-ing again, I definitely can’t afford to go every day (even though I really REALLY want to), but I should be able to swing a couple of classes a month. Don seemed just as pleased with his yoga experience. He, the fitness freak that he is, particularly enjoyed the challenging yoga sculpt classes (in one, we burned almost 500 calories in an hour according to our FitBits) and even purchased his very own yoga mat, so I know he plans on going back.