Last week, I was chatting with a friend who is new to yoga, and she described how her first yoga class was such a disappointment. It was a little too confusing, hard core, and Sanskrit-spewing for her taste, so she promptly decided yoga wasn’t for her and never went back. I get that.
I imagine she is not the only woman who has felt this way, exhausted and disheveled from a sweat-filled power yoga session, lower back twinging, while the lululemon-clad twenty-somethings remain glistening and beautiful on their way to grab a green juice. Don’t even get me started on the intimidation guys feel. My husband insists that he would be denied entry since his bald head is incapable of producing a man bun.
I recently discussed this with a thoughtful young instructor who had the body of a goddess, and even she admitted that some classes have evolved (due to demand) to be more like high intensity workout sessions masquerading as yoga. Glad I’m not the only one thinking this. I am also thinking, “Why did I not have her body when I was that age?” but I digress.
As I told my friend, if you’ve been to one yoga class, you’ve been to one yoga class. Yoga classes and yoga studios are as unique as the many yoga instructors who teach them. You have to try a few on, date around, until you find a good match.
Once you find an instructor or a style of class that resonates with you, you will experience the yoga buzz firsthand. If you walk away feeling disappointment, then move on, but do keep looking. Nothing beats the serenity of a good yoga buzz, surrounded by your happy yoga forcefield, inpenetrable by the grumpy people or aggressive drivers you will invariably encounter on the way home.
It took some time for me to find a good instructor, and of course, my favorite instructor will be different from yours. My current instructor is close to my age, spiritually curious, sporting a cool tattoo, singing bowls, and is newly vegetarian (I think I’m rubbing off on her). She’s also a smoothie entrepreneur, tree hugger, and she will hike your ass into the ground, because she’s cool like that. I’ve seen butterflies land on her. Enough said.
Accordingly, her yoga retreat was amazing. Totally unplugged, rustic mountain cabins with bunk beds, drum circle, bonfires, babbling streams, ridiculously good vegan food (at my request), and a hike she described as featuring a small ‘rock scramble’, which turned out to be a death-defying mountaintop climb over boulders the size of small cars upon the summit of which she did a balance pose while I sat trying to stop shaking with fear.
That very same hike is the reason I love my yoga instructor and her adventurous spirit. I am so grateful to have returned to my yoga practice this year. Like every other form of movement I pursue, I try to embrace being in over my head. Yoga is one of the few practices that will literally turn you upside down if you allow it to. Namaste.