13 December 2012

Adventure-ing: Yoga

Getting my Laurenspiration on.
I've been consistently inspired by my blogger-writer friend Lauren's ongoing series on Adventure-ing. Sometimes she has adventures, and sometimes she posts guest blogs by other people who have been Adventure-ing. Seeing those posts every so often reminds me of my own adventures I've been meaning to adventure.

So I decided to try something new.

I decided to try yoga.

I know, gasp. Another twenty-something woman trying yoga. Cliche to the max! And that, I'm embarrassed to admit, is one of the reasons I hadn't tried it for so long. Other reasons include the fact that a lot of people I had previously heard talking about yoga seemed a bit woo-woo about it, in an eerie echo of the strangely unquestioning devotion* some show to homeopathy. I was also initially slightly put off by the question of cultural appropriation associated with yoga. Sensitivity to cultural appropriation is something I take seriously (Some might say too seriously, but that's a story for another day.) and I'd always felt a bit weird about the prevalence of white women turning another culture's spiritual practice into a hypersexualized fitness regime.
*Unquestioning devotion always freaks me out.

So yes, I'd kind of steered clear of yoga because it seemed like the perfect storm for me.

Here's what's changed in the past six months: many, many women who are very similar to me have recommended that I try yoga as a form of relaxation. One woman is one of my best friends: she is Indian (born and raised in America, both parents from India, and culture is extremely personally important to her) and her recommendation suggests that she at least doesn't find the studio she attends to be culturally offensive. The other suggestions come from newer friends who are not in the slightest way woo-woo.**
**Note: I've just read that "woo woo" can be considered derogatory term for anything related to spirituality. That's not how I mean it at all. I have no problem with spirituality -- I said that one of my concerns about yoga was taking another culture's spiritual practice and turning it into a fitness regime.
And one of these new friends is Kate. Kate used to be a Capitol Hill staffer and is now a yoga instructor in Alexandria. Here's a section from her instructor profile: 
"Kate has always been inspired to help others and believes that she can do this in no better way than by sharing the peace, love and joy that is yoga."
So I decided I wanted to try yoga. I had never been to a session before and realized I had a lot of preconceived notions about it that likely weren't true -- or at least weren't true of Kate, so probably wouldn't be true of any studio where she taught. Kate invited me to attend one of her all-levels classes last week.

It was great! The studio smelled mildly of incense, but not in a cloying way.

This form of yoga was definitely the thing for me. Kate's instructions frequently reminded us to focus on our breath and being in the moment. Being in the moment is something that I think we frequently forget to do in today's fast-paced world, so simply relaxing and focusing on the pose and on the stretch or on my breath was quite a relaxing change.

Child's Pose
That one there is Child's Pose. I felt slightly ridiculous at first, then decided if I was going to feel ridiculous about doing yoga, I might as well give up. So I decided to stop feeling ridiculous. That worked out pretty well for me, which was good because I definitely ended up giving up on some of the more challenging poses later and just doing Child's Pose, because I needed a break and this one is actually pretty comfy.

You just lie there.
We did this pose after a bunch of complicated poses I apparently can't draw. They involved a lot of sweating, though, and a lot of balancing things I couldn't really do. This one was a nice relief after that lineup. I was really good  at this one.

One of the few I could do that didn't just involve lying on the ground.
Now I'm just showing off. This is one of the more difficult poses (i.e. involved more than just lying on the ground) that I was actually any good at. This one was pretty easy for me, which surprised Kate. Whereas on the balancing poses on our feet, I was worried about falling out and taking out the rest of the class like dominoes.

Conclusion: It was a good time! I would do it again. I enjoyed the focus on the poses and on being in the moment. I left feeling better than I had in a long time. I hadn't realized how much tension I'd been carrying in my neck, for example.

I'm considering taking a yoga class in January at my town's community center, because yoga studios! Wow! I looked at the ones closer to me, and those prices are high!

So that's the adventure I adventured this month.

Now You!

Have you tried anything new?