So, yeah, I’m in a yoga class here at The Ohio State University at Marion. And I’ve gotta tell ya – I LOVE it! I know there’s a lot of trepidation when people hear about yoga classes. I’m sure they picture what I did when I scheduled for this class: lots of “ooohmmm”s and standing on my head. They picture pain and getting out of breath or, heck, maybe even “Escape” by Rupert Holmes (I like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain! I’m not into yoga – I am into champagne!). So I’m here today to tell you all about my experience in yoga class here at OSUM!
#1 Hang on a minute, yo, I’m going to look ridiculous
Get. In. Line. One of my initial biggest worries about joining a yoga class was that I was going to look HORRIBLY unprepared. Sure, I may have dabbled for a summer in high school with one of those corny pregnant-yoga DVDs, but I was sure with my height I’d looklaughable.
Not true! For many in this class, there are people who have never practiced yoga. It’s one big learning experience when we’re all in there together. I never knew that my leg could cross a certain way or that I could FINALLY stretch out this one kink in my back. We’re all learning how to move our bodies in ways we haven’t before. The teacher leads us through the postures and helps us along the way.
#2 I don’t know how to do yoga!
It’s a good thing there’s a class for it then! When we come to class, the teacher gives us small readings that we can take home and keep for our own yoga folders. These small paragraphs explain the basics of the day, including new moves, and the namas and niyamas for the session/week. You also learn the lingo of yoga, too and the history. (More on that below!) We perform hatha yoga, which isn’t anything surprising like swinging in the air like aerial yoga or hot yoga. Hatha yoga is the jack of all trades of yoga. We not only work on basic moves but we also do meditation and relaxed breathing and even athletic stances. Our teacher even tells us about basic spine alignment and how to sit properly at a desk or how to unwind after a long night of studying and class time. Our teacher also models each of the moves before you do them. What’s really cool about this class is that you can modify the moves to fit you! Which brings me too…
#3 I don’t think I can… I’m going to hurt myself
This is a legitimate concern for some people and it may prevent them from signing up for the class – but it doesn’t have to! On the first day of class we filled out a medical sheet so she could know not only what we wanted to get from yoga (like toning and flexibility VS spiritual cleansing) but also if we had any injuries or bodily concerns. For example, I have a bit of scoliosis and I have issues in my wrists. Because of this, I can modify moves like downward dog (as modeled quite accurately by this stock photo Irish terrier) so my wrists don’t hurt and I can breathe.
#4 But if I modify my poses, I’m not good as good as the rest of the class
It’s time for the biggest buster of yoga mythos yet!
When I signed up for the class I thought yoga was going to be all about stretching myself to the extremes. So much so that I would be in pain and would be uncomfortable, like a taffy puller! But at the same time I’d be worried that I looked like Snorlax trying to wake up.
During my last class I had to modify what was pretty much a basic move – the downward-facing dog while everyone else in the class was having crazy success with it. I just couldn’t breathe in that position! I found myself grinding my teeth and having short, panicked breaths. My wrists hurt like crazy because all my weight was resting on them and I just KNEW that my back wasn’t aligned right. I sank down into child’s pose (my favorite pose, actually) and was finally able to breathe and release all of my tension. I couldn’t relax like other people and in those moments before we finished our sun salutation, I felt like I wasn’t as good as the other people.
And then my yoga teacher spoke.
To paraphrase, she said: “When I teach I am at my happiest and proudest when I see my students modify poses that fit them. Yoga is not about pain or pushing yourself to your extremes: it’s about breathing. If you can’t breathe in a pose or if you’re in pain when practicing, that’s the sign you need to modify your pose. It’s not a sign of weakness; you’re understanding your body and listening to it when you modify poses. When I see students modify poses I’m more proud of them than if you stood on your head for three minutes.”
Wonderful speech aside, one of my friends after class basically said the exact same thing happened to her. She was in pain, too! But we both let the pressure of what others did affect our poses. Can you say child’s pose buddies?!
We both practice downward-facing dog when we can, still trying to modify it and see if we can make it by moving our legs or lining our wrists certain ways. We’re getting there and we’re making great progress!
Give yoga a try in these coming semesters! As someone who has almost 18 credit hours every semester, having a way to unwind and relieve stress is GLORIOUS!
You can read all about the yamas and niyamas that we do in class here! This week’s assignment was to find time during the day to notice if you’re slumping. If you are – do something about it! There are plenty of ways you can apply yoga to the work place – even at your own desk!
Yoga is offered Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 – it’s only one credit hour and is kinesiology!
[All pictures taken were consensual and agreed to – just look at us go!]