Wise words from our yoga instructor from Tuesday night.
Jon and I went to the Buffalo Foundry, one of the two locations of East Meets West yoga studio, to take part in the Beginner Vinyasa Flow class. I have done a few yoga classes before, including a handful of yoga-on-the-beach classes on Cape Cod with my beautiful sisters-in-law Adrienne and Brooks! I’ve also done Yoga Booty Ballet DVDs and some other basic yoga videos at home (1990s VHS, baby!). So I have a basic knowledge of how to turn my feet, how to breathe, and so on and so forth. But I am always amazed at the differences between taking formal classes and practicing in the comfort of my living room. I think the main difference is I am more willing to push myself further in a class for fear of failing or embarrassing myself somehow. Or maybe it’s the mentality that I paid for this, so I’m going to eek out of it everything I can get!
Tuesday’s class proved challenging for both Jon and me. I was feeling particularly stiff from finally going to the gym consistently for the past week. When I tried to fold forward, my hamstrings felt like old chewing gum that’s lost its chew; they were so tight! Downward facing dog got harder and harder to hold for long periods of time. Thankfully, our instructor kindly reminded us to “respect what your body is saying”—which is a much more zen way of saying, “Nope!”—and drop to child’s pose for a bit, if necessary.
One of my favorite parts of the class was when we practiced toe grips. This might sound really weird, but I just love doing these. At one point, we were in a simple forward bend, but by clasping the big toes, I felt that much more of a bend, and I felt that much more connected to my body. I found it kind of cool to have a physical link from one end of my body (fingertips) to the other (toes). It was all very zen for those moments.
For a beginner class, I definitely felt pushed beyond what I expected. We started working on an inversion, and boy was that harder than it looked! It literally looked so easy but actually required a lot of focus and strength. Through practicing this inversion and a few of the other moves we did, I identified that I shrug my shoulders up to my ears, causing tightness and tension. In order to do this inversion properly, you have to keep your neck relaxed and your shoulders down so your head hangs freely. I know this will be challenging for me, but I am really looking forward to retraining my tensed shoulders (as this is a problem I’ve noticed while cooking, typing, running, etc.) and reaping the other benefits of this practice. It was the first inversion I’ve ever tried, and I am so excited to keep progressing and improving!