Tonight was the last Gates scholars yoga session of this term, and since this is the first regular yoga class I’ve attended, I thought I’d share some observations with you. Note: these observations apply only to basic yoga and may not hold true for other variations.
1) Yoga is really easy. When I went to my first class, I was surprised that I could do practically everything that was asked of me with little to no difficulty. This class was not my first experience with yoga, but I hadn’t done yoga with a class since high school (about six or seven years ago) when Mrs. Egbert (sp?) taught my aerobics class. But yoga isn’t a tough practice or exercise. You’re not supposed to force your body to do anything it can’t. Plus, the pace is nice. You stretch to a pose, hold it a little bit, then do something else, and you can’t fall behind.
2) That being said, improvement is slow. I thought I was doing so well when I started a few months ago, but there’s likely little observable evidence that I’ve improved since then or become more flexible. I can tell that some of my stretches are deeper and that my form is a little better, though. Of course, practicing yoga more than once a week would bring change faster.
3) People look good while doing yoga. You know how you walk by or go to a gym and people look nasty and the air is thick and has a funk? Not so with yoga. First of all, there’s less sweating and less straining. Second-of-ly, you wear relaxed clothing. You don’t see many weird, futuristic-looking outfits with stripes and reflectors, nor do you see many mangy, old cut-up shirts or shorts. People wear soft clothing that allows movement. I imagine the outfits some of my classmates wear would be excellent for curling up on the couch and reading.
4) Yoga is noncompetitive. It’s hard to compete with yourself and hard to compete with others. Although you can set goals for yourself, it’s harder to measure your overall progress in yoga than it is in running or weightlifting or many other physical activities. You slowly improve, and that’s about all you can ask for. People who do yoga understand this. The person to your left may be able to stretch much farther than you or lift his/her leg higher in the air, but that doesn’t matter. He/she has probably practiced longer. More than that, no one cares how you’re doing, and I’m not just saying that. Yoga has an inward focus, so there’s no use worrying about others. Anyone engaged in yoga is paying attention to his/her body, not yours. Noticing someone else who’s really good at yoga simply gives you a model to aspire to. There’s nothing to do in the moment to compete.
5) Yoga feels good. It’s good for the body, and it’s a good stress-reliever.
These are all really insightful, right? Things you never would have guessed about yoga. Anyway, it’s been a good class, and I’ll be glad to resume after break.