My First Yoga Class

Posted by Steven Russell on Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I was never very athletic growing up. I hated gym class. I detested playing softball or basketball, and avoided playing them if I possibly could. In grad school when I was about 29, I thought I should do something with my body, so I took advantage of the wonderful facilities at Rutgers, and I started swimming on campus. I enjoyed it very much. I had taken swimming lessons as a kid, so I progressed quickly in my laps. After graduation I joined the local Y so that I could keep swimming. Then my husband and I bought a house that wasn’t near any Y or JCC or indoor pool. It was sometime late in 1999. So I checked out the local NY Sports Club that had no pool, and joined. I got a few free training sessions, and hooked up with two other guys about my age, to work out together.

A few months into my membership there another friend of mine took a yoga class at my gym. She came to me immediately and said, “You need to do this!” I kind of brushed it off at the time, but the intensity of her statement ate away at me. She again said to me that yoga was something I really needed to do. So I went with her to a class. The room was dark, but with just enough light that I could see myself at all angles in the mirrors on the walls surrounding the studio. I used a mat from a pile stacked up at the back of the room. Who knows where they had been and who had been sweating on them. I lay down on the mat in a corner of the room and breathed as the teacher instructed us to do. So far so good. The slow rhythm of the breathing quickly brought my mind to a calm, focused place that even hours of singing had never done.

Then we stood up and went through some poses that were not easy to do while I was straining my neck to see and model the teacher. Then came “Chair Pose” where you sit back in an imaginary chair. The daggers of pain shooting through my lower body seemed to travel up and pierce my brain. All I could think of was, “How long is this wicked woman going to make me stay like this?” Incidentally, it wasn’t until 2011 that I learned to be relatively comfortable in that pose. The rest of the class is a blur. I vaguely remember some other weird twisting things I attempted to get my body into, but I do recall the wonderful feeling of the final rest pose. The world seemed to pause and settle around me as I floated in a timeless bliss.

I thanked my friend for dragging me to class. I think I went for a few months on and off, then mostly off for about a half a year until the lure of the class beckoned me back. By that time my friend had bought me my own mat and bag.I went to class regularly for about a year until another friend introduced me to yoga outside of a gym. More on that later.


Steven Russell on July 20, 2012 at 1:34:34 pm said:
Thanks! Those are all great things to keep in mind. How is your practice going?
Kristina Kovarik on July 20, 2012 at 1:13:08 pm said:
Great choice to invest in yourself Steven! I wish I would have read this article before my first class, hope it helps you on your journey =]

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