No More Excuses- Let Me Light a Fire Under You
After having my ass handed to me the past two weeks in Bikram yoga, I decided this was a great time to answer some remaining questions and concerns you’ve been sharing with me regarding hot yoga. So many of you seem to think you need to be in shape or have great flexibility or balance BEFORE you attempt yoga. This concern is antithetical to yoga- the practice of which is part of becoming more flexible, building your core, strengthening your body and developing a mind body connection.
So, I decided in order to allay any fear you might have- I went to the new beginner’s class Sunstone Yoga is offering to those who have a) never done yoga before b) have done yoga but not hot yoga c) tried hot yoga but are interested in trying Sunstone’s “pain-free yoga” d) those who have done all the above and want to check in with their body and have an open forum to discuss form.
This class was not offered when I began my practice at Sunstone. I went in blind- five weeks after major surgery. One of my best friends, Julie, insisted it was unlike any yoga we’d ever done (and detested) before. I declined- though politely. When my doctor told me the only exercise he’d authorize me to do was yoga- I felt painted into corner- so I went.
I remember wishing I had any idea what I was doing at the time and am thankful they have now added the beginner’s series.
This is how the beginner’s series, well, begins.
As soon as you tell the instructor at the counter you are at Sunstone for the first time- you will get a shockingly enthusiastic and warm welcome (and I’m not just talking about the heat). They will have you fill out a new student form, offer you the $10-for-10-days-of-yoga price, hand you a towel, let you know there is water for sale and give you a tour.
You will be shown the locker rooms and yoga rooms. The process for each time you come to class will be explained in detail- where you should get a mat if you don’t have your own, how the room is laid out and what time you can enter.
Once inside the beginner’s class- the lights are on and you are allowed to ask any questions about the process. The instructor will explain the concept of Sunstone- their mission and why yoga is such a powerful tool in the repair and maintenance of your body.This is the forum in which all misconceptions will be cleared up. I’ve had people tell me yoga is “anti-Christian,” that it’s bad for your health and even that it will stunt children’s growth. None of this is true- but each person must dispel concerns for themselves and trying it is the best way to do so.
The class was loaded with So Very Clever Guys and I am proud of this- no matter how fit or in shape men are- they often lack the flexibility or mind-body connection taught in hot yoga, which can dramatically reduce the risk of injury in their normal workout. It’s also NOT a bad place to ogle cleavage and some very nice yoga bodies on these Very Clever ladies.
I was happy to see a 70-year-old man in the class. He was having a difficult time just sitting on the floor- his discomfort was obvious. I loved the gentle way the instructor promised him just coming and sitting in the heat would start loosening up his joints and providing some relief to him. He sighed heavily and said, “I can’t imagine being comfortable.”
Once all questions had been asked and answered it was time for her to take us through the standing series. As we were getting started, one of my classmates asked me about my wrist band- they had been discussed (Sunstone offers wristbands as you achieve new levels of your practice. I have done 150 classes, so I have my 10-, 25-, 75- and 100-class bands- but always wear my Purpose band. They each focus on an aspect of your practice.) I responded I’d been to about 150 classes and several people asked what I was doing in the beginner’s course. My response was simple.
“So much in yoga is about form- so I thought it was a good time to check in with my body and an instructor and see how I was doing- ask some questions about my form and see if I could deepen any of my postures.” Someone mumbled, “Oh great, you’re going to make us look bad!” I laughed and said, “Believe me, once you see my practice you’ll be hoping you will be much better than I am when you get to 150 classes! Yoga is hard and I have to work at each posture more than someone who is really flexible or strong or just has better balance. It’s like golf- I play against myself every day.”
The instructor guided us through every posture of the standing series and in detail explained the purpose for them. What parts of the body they help to exercise or to stimulate- the basic form and the advanced forms. At first people were watching me until they realized I had as many questions as they did. It didn’t take long for my fellow students to relax into the supportive and encouraging environment.
I am hoping they all come back. It’s not easy, but it is impossible for me to overstate the benefits of this ancient practice. Mind. Body. Spirit. Fantastic.
Oh, and Clever Girls? The class ratio is nearing 50-50, men to women, so it’s becoming a great way to meet a guy who shares your passion for yoga. I recommend the classes that begin near the end of the work day for maximum male attendance.
Enjoy- stress free. Check your insecurity at the door- your fellow students are just trying to make it through their own practice. There is no time or energy for judgment. On top of the fact judgment is So Very NOT Clever.