First time yogi Andrew Taylor reminds us what it’s like to be newbie again.
For about two months now, my boyfriend Andrew and I have threatened to take the Level 1 Yoga Class at our gym in Vail, CO on Wednesday evenings but have time and time again brushed it off. Whether because of work, snow and for my boyfriend both work + snow (he’s the videographer for Vail ski resort, rough life!) we have found a way to avoid yoga class. I practice yoga from time to time, usually at home with a DVD, but have fallen off the wagon of actually going to classes. And the longer I waited to go to an actual class, the less I wanted to go. No one likes being the new guy (at least I don’t) and I didn’t feel like starting over again.
But for Andrew, he had never been to a yoga class. He had never even been to a gym until we signed up for a membership together back in October. An avid snowboarder, and sometimes mountain biker and skateboarder, he’s definitely active, but wasn’t cross-training for any of these activities.
And after an incident over the summer (cameras and skateboards don’t mix, kids) that led to a broken collarbone and surgery, he knew it was time to start building some muscle. And so, on the second Wednesday of January, because last Wednesday was the first, resolutions don’t start until the second, duh, we ventured into the gym’s yoga room together.
Also, I should mention, Andrew can already do a crow pose (really!) and he’s NEVER been to a yoga class. Good genes and years of breakdancing with his friends after school are to thank for that.
After the hour-long class, we both felt better, much better! So much better that we decided to treat ourselves to a beer at the local watering hole and discuss Andrew’s first experience with yoga:
Were you nervous before the class?
“No not really, I was more excited than nervous.”
Students usually face the mirrored wall/s so they can correct their form. Do you wish you would have been facing the mirror? (We were facing a windowed wall that overlooks the mountains and a chair lift, not a bad alternative).
“I don’t know. Now that I think about it, I kinda wish I was facing the mirror. Because I thought that I looked ridiculous [while practicing]. But I think if I would have been able to see myself, I would have thought I looked more normal.”
Was anything about the class easy?
“The corpse pose. Other than that, I thought it was very challenging.”
Did any of the poses hurt?
“A little bit. The pelvis push did, mainly because of my collarbone.” (We were in a pelvic tilt with our hands clasped underneath our backs)
What did you like about the class?
“I liked that it just stretched muscles that I wouldn’t normally stretch on a regular basis. Makes me look at exercising in a different way.”
What didn’t you like about the class?
“I didn’t like that the instructor was unclear with all the terms, like the chakras and the names of all the different poses. I suppose that comes with going to more classes, but I thought she could have introduced the class a little bit better and said what poses were what.” “There was a lot of talk about energy and rose petals and groinal access.”
“It was also hard to remember when to breathe. I was always focusing on what to do with my hands and body. And the instructor kept winking at me and it made me uncomfortable, but she was nice.” We had a great instructor - she was friendly and catered to Andrew’s newbie status.
Did you like the music playing [typical yoga chanting music]?
“I thought it was kinda cheesy, actually. I feel like there’s gotta be something more modern, it doesn’t have to be cheesy Eastern chants. But I guess that’s kinda what I was expecting.”
Do you feel like you got a good workout in?
“I think so. Um, it feels less like a workout and more an exercise of the joints and muscles, which probably is just as important. But it definitely left me feeling more limber and energized.”
Did you feel better after the class?
“Yes, I did.”
Do you want to go again?
“I do. I feel like sometimes going to the gym is a chore whereas going to yoga feels more like you’re doing something that’s going to be beneficial in the long run. I realize the gym is beneficial too, but it just feels like more effort. I also think yoga would help me better myself at the things I already like to do, like snowboarding, skateboarding and biking.
Were there any presumptions you had about yoga classes that were true/false?
“I thought it would be more crowded, it was a smaller group, which made it feel nice. Definitely more challenging physically, which I had heard, but I still thought it would be easier. The stretches were complex. It was just more physical than I thought it would be. Especially the planking and rising up [to upward dog], it felt like I was doing push-ups.”
“The cheesy Eastern music.”
Any final thoughts?
“I’m hoping yoga will make me comfortable on the hill [ski hill] and a more confident, exceptional snowboarder. I’m hoping to see a difference after a few classes, who knows?”
Kay Wynarsky is the Community Manager for Tula Software, The World’s Best Yoga Software.