After years of saying to anyone that would listen that I was thinking of trying yoga, and years of never trying it, I finally did it. Yoga, meet Nicole, Nicole, meet Yoga. I am no longer a yoga virgin! I can say with some certainty that I’m in the beginning stages of a beautiful love affair. It was a whirlwind two-day introduction that has now moved into the can’t-stop-thinking-about-it, I-feel-it-in-my-bones, can’t-wait-for-next-time kind of infatuation. Here’s how it all went down…
I spent a bit of time over lunch checking out Bliss Yoga Spa, a yoga studio about 5 minutes away from my condo that I’ve been following on Twitter for the better part of six months. I noticed that I had just missed the beginning of a 5 week “Introduction to Yoga” course that started on January 6. Disappointed, I tweeted the studio asking if they had another one coming up soon that I could be a part of. They tweeted me back, “There’s one starting tomorrow at 1:15pm!”.
The usual panic in my stomach kicked in, and my inner voice tried to convince me not to do it. Well, you can’t do Saturdays at 1:15pm, that’s in the middle of the day! What about that other course you’re taking next Saturday, doesn’t that interfere with the five-week schedule? You’ll miss one class out of the five, is it really worth it? You might as well just wait for the next workshop in the spring. I told myself I’d call the studio and ask if missing one class out of the five would be detrimental to the experience. Then I didn’t call. Then I felt disappointed in myself and resigned that it probably wouldn’t happen.
Then, in a moment of defiance against my inner voice, I stepped in to Bliss Yoga Spa after work (because really, it’s only 5 minutes away from home) and for an instant, felt like a deer in the headlights, frozen in place watching people with yoga mats tucked neatly under their arms, moving towards their classes with purpose and the air of routine. My eyes moved nervously over the faces in the lobby until I heard a calm friendly voice say “Are you here for yoga?”, and a young woman behind the reception desk smiled warmly at me. Standing there in the yoga studio, which is closer than I’ve ever come to starting yoga, my inner voice convinced me to make an excuse:
“Um, well I’ve never done yoga before, and I was thinking about signing up for that Introduction to Yoga workshop that starts tomorrow afternoon, but I’m going to be missing one class next weekend, and, well, I’m wondering if it’s even worth it to sign up for this session and I’m thinking I might just sign up for the one after it instead, if you have one.”
She smiled and clickity-clacked on her keyboard for a few seconds. I was ready to bolt, half turned towards the door. It’s not too late…
“There’s still room in the workshop and it’s a very casual and slow introduction to yoga so the class won’t really progress to the point that you’d feel uncomfortable if you only miss one week! Lots of people who take this workshop end up missing a week. I think you’d be fine!”
Crap. No excuse now. But, what about that one class you’ll be missing? You should get your money’s worth!
“Oh! Really? Well, ok, that’s great. But will I be able to make up that missed class at another time during the week? Another beginners yoga class or something?”
She smiled again. So friendly!
“Unfortunately not. But! We do have this amazing promotion on right now for 2 weeks of unlimited yoga for $50. The promotion will be on until the end of January, and your unlimited pass will activate and remain valid for 2 weeks from the day you purchase it. If you decide during your Intro to Yoga workshop that you love it, this promo is a really great opportunity to come and try all of the different kinds of yoga we offer and see what you like!”
Without thinking, my hand reached into my wallet, grabbed my debit card, and placed it on the counter.
“Ok! I’ll sign up for the Introduction to Yoga workshop then.”
Wait. WHAT? What just happened. I guess I’m doing this. What do I wear? What do I bring? When do I show up? Don’t panic! Don’t be silly! Just ask!
So I did. I asked all the questions I could think of, and she patiently explained about wearing comfortable clothes (capri pants and a tank, a light sweater just in case since the class was in a room temperature environment), bringing a water bottle, arriving 15 minutes early for someone to show me around the studio. I nodded, signed a safety waiver, paid my for the course, thanked her sincerely and left, silently cheering in my head, a big grin on my face.
I woke up.
What have I done?
I was nervous and my stomach was alternating between excitement and fear. That’s what the unknown does to me, and I don’t often not know things. I prefer to be in control. So I picked out my outfit, because that’s control. Yoga pants, check! I own the pants even though I’ve never used them for their intended purpose. Tank top, easy. Light sweater…NONE?! What do I do? What if I’m cold? What if I get goosebumps and I get so uncomfortable that I want to leave and I have to disrupt the whole class to get out of the room? I frantically searched through the closet for a light sweater. They’re out of season, and I’ve got nothing. I even desperately tried on one of Husbie’s cardigans, but instantly looked like a crazy person and imagined getting wrapped up in it awkwardly during class and falling to the ground in a heap of light sweater, failing the downward dog or warrior pose. I opted for no sweater.
Then I showered and put on my makeup. Is eyeliner too much for yoga class? Will I look like I’m trying to hard? What will all those fresh-faced girls that do yoga everyday think? It’s too fancy. No eyeliner. I got dressed, and grabbed my yoga mat that’s been sitting in the corner collecting dust for 6 months, still wrapped in plastic, price tag betraying my effort to look like I’ve actually done yoga and used the mat before. I unwrapped it, unrolled it. Do I need something to keep it rolled up? I’ve seen girls with yoga mat straps. Why didn’t I buy a strap? Can I use a scarf? Don’t be silly.
My brain told me that I shouldn’t eat anything heavy before yoga. That’s a thing right? Even though I’ve never in my life done this before, that seems logical. So I made some tuna on rice crackers. Why’d you eat tuna? Um, tuna breath alert! You’re going to be in close quarters with a bunch of other women doing yoga, and you chose TUNA?! I vigorously scrubbed my teeth, my tongue.
I paced around the living room, knowing that if I left too early, I’d show up earlier than the 15 minutes early they told me to arrive. I sat down, stood up, arranged my purse and yoga mat by the door. I put on regular socks. No, switch to short socks. Do you even wear socks when you’re actually doing the yoga? I don’t think so. What kind of shoes go with yoga pants? Definitely not ankle boots. Runners? Do these shoes match my outfit? Don’t be silly, you’re wearing yoga pants and a tank top.
I drove over to the yoga studio, tried to park the car in some nice sunlight in order to take a selfie with my yoga mat to post to Instagram – “My first yoga experience EVER!”. I am SO ridiculous! The shadow from the dirty windshield makes me look like I have huge zits on my face. Nuh-Uh. The photo is awkward, automatically deleted. I double checked that the car doors were locked before walking into the studio.
Saturday, class time
It was the same young woman seated behind the reception desk that sold me my pass Friday night, and she greeted me by name.
“Nicole! So nice to see you! Just in time for a tour of the studio!”
I followed another friendly employee around the studio for a tour, and sized up a few other people who had signed up for the class. There was a small and thin older woman with beautiful white hair pulled back into a ponytail. There was another tall girl like me, with dark hair, around my age. We shuffled into the change room and put our belongings into lockers. It was only then that I realized that everyone around me was holding a water bottle, and I was not. I could picture it in my head, sitting on the kitchen counter. How on earth did you forget a water bottle for your first yoga class OF ALL TIME?! Is it too late to leave? Just suck it up, it’s only for an hour and a half. You won’t die of dehydration or anything, that would take longer than an hour and a half. Or would it?
We walked into a semi-lit room, soft music playing, and were greeted by another friendly woman, our teacher, motioning to the open spots on the floor to set up our mats. Where do I sit? What’s a good place so no one sees me make a fool of myself? Back of the classroom…quick! That way people wont see my panty lines. Who does yoga in a THONG? There were a few other women already in the room, sitting or lying down on their mats, waiting. I unrolled my mat, fought with the end of it to stay flat, and realized the attempt was futile. The mat was too new and wouldn’t lay flat, edges curling up and begging for me to fidget with them. I ignored them and sat down cross-legged, waiting.
I felt fidgety. Do I cross my arms? Cross my legs? Should I lay down? Clasp my hands politely? I smiled as other women walked into the room and took their places. I almost laughed out loud when another woman pulled out her plastic wrapped yoga mat and announced to the class “yeah, THIS is how new I am to yoga!” ME TOO!!
We started with Shavasana, also known as the corpse pose. It’s exactly what you think – lying down on your back, letting all of your limbs go limp and your body get heavy. We were instructed to focus on our breathing, and to try to clear our minds. Clear our minds? HOW?! She has a nice voice. It’s soothing! I wonder how long we’re going to lay here for. I wonder if anyone has fallen asleep in this position before. Don’t fall asleep…FOCUS! Breathe in, breathe out. Her voice is getting softer now. Are my eyes supposed to be open? FOCUS! Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breath out.
From there, we moved our way slowly through a series of floor based poses to start with and worked our way up to standing poses that challenged our balance, our strength. My inner voice quieted as I focused on the sound of the teacher’s voice guiding us through the poses. As far as I was concerned, it was just me in that room. I existed in a head space that I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced before. Some poses were easy, some poses were more difficult, and some poses I couldn’t do (hello, Warrior II) because my feet started sweating and sliding apart on the mat, dangerously close to the full-blown splits. This is so embarrassing, I’m going to fall over and knock down this row of women like dominoes! Is THIS why the girl beside me is wearing socks? Sweaty feet? This can’t be my downfall. KEEP IT TOGETHER! Are those my thighs burning? What is that muscle that I feel? I have muscles there?! My legs are going to collapse.
We finished with Shavasana again, and after a moment to just BE, I was sad that it was over. I rolled up my mat and left the room feeling elated. I grabbed my coat and purse from the change room and headed to the car. The sun felt as if it was shining a bit brighter, and I felt a bit lighter. It was the perfect combination of stretching, core strength, balance, and escape from the routine of life. I left wanting to learn more, do more. That’s it, I’m addicted. I’M IN LOVE AND I WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW IT!
I can’t believe it took me this long to get around to trying yoga. I’ve already been doing a few of the poses I remember at home, and I can’t wait for my next class! Most of all, I feel such an overwhelming sense of empowerment (One of my 5 words for 2014) at having done this all on my own. I was apprehensive at first that I was going into this class not knowing anyone. Now I feel like it doesn’t matter, because it’s just me in there, having an hour and a half to myself to do something amazing for my body and my mind and my soul.
I’m already looking at yoga retreats in California…Candace, you’re coming with me <3