Workout Wednesday – I May Have Been Wrong About Yoga

by DavalosMcCormack on June 9, 2010

For years I’ve been reluctantly¬† dragging my sorry bottom to yoga every once in a while. I knew it was good for me, all that stretching and breathing and stuff, but I just never liked it. I did it almost as a form of penance – good ex-Catholic that I am – for all the fun I’d had doing other sports like football (soccer) and squash where you compress all your muscles. Yoga loosened those muscles up. But it was always a real effort to get through the class, even though it was usually filled with lithe young women in leotards bending into mathematically implausible shapes. Not that I ever looked. Honest Shirley!!

But then I took a Matt class. Not as in put your mat on the floor. As in Matt the yoga teacher at SF Bay Club. His class was a whole different experience.

Now it may not even have been that Matt was so brilliant, it may simply have been that he was teaching the style of yoga called Ashtanga. Previously I’d done a different style called Iyengar. Iyengar is a slower, more meditative form that focuses on body alignment. Ashtanga (which means “Eight Limbs” in Sanskrit – see¬† you did learn something useful here) is a faster paced method that flows quickly from one pose to another.

Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga are completely different yoga experiences!

It wasn’t that the moves were any easier – they were pretty much the same. It wasn’t that my body was somehow more pliable. No, it was simply that the whole thing moved along at a faster pace. That meant I didn’t have to focus on clearing my mind, I was just struggling to keep up. I didn’t have to focus on “being there” or “being in the moment”, there was no way I had time to be anywhere else or think about anything else other than what I was doing.

The class flew by and at the end I was sweating lightly, and feeling great. My muscles and tendons felt lengthened, my limbs longer, my body lighter. It was amazing.

What was even more amazing was that at the end my first thought wasn’t “thank God that’s over” but “Wow, I’m coming back next week”.

So, if you were like me and thought you didn’t like yoga, think again. It may not be yoga that you don’t like. It may simply be the form of yoga that you are doing that you don’t like. For me, all I needed to do was find one that was more like exercise and less like meditation.

There’s loads of choices out there. Keep trying them till you find one you do really like.

And if at the end of it all you still haven’t found a form of yoga that works for you. At least you’ll still be a lot more limber and lithe than you were before!

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