Before I begin, Happy Birthday wishes are in order. My sister turns 40 today. I'm not far behind, so I will be kind. (Oh, gosh, would you look at that... the poetry class has taken over my head!)
Speaking of which, with yesterday's midterm break (a whole day off from class at the U.), I decided to try something I've been only thinking about.
I attended my first-ever yoga class.
I've been spending a great deal of time focused on looking after my body as of late. What with a regular chiropractic and massage therapy programme, cycling and the mental stimulation of academic courses at the University, it's been a whole new world for me over the last year or so.
I've always dreamed of being strong, but going to the gym seemed out of my league. Starting in Junior High, I looked upon the crazy gym freaks as just that. I believed (and to some degree still do) that I simply didn't have the stature, frame, build, or whatever you want to call it - to take on the gym.
I've heard of people who are amazingly strong inside of what outwardly appears to be a slim or slight frame, and that some forms of yoga are the vehicle by which they attain and maintain such amazing strength. This fascinates me, because it defys the stereotypical image of "big and bulky = strong and fit". What makes even greater logical sense to me is that less bulk, less size, is typically easier on the heart, the frame and all the other inner workings of the body.
A number of months ago, a good friend of mine (who is almost twice my size, physically) said to me,
"Dave, you're a strong guy who doesn't see yourself as a strong guy."
His words were running through my mind as the instructor guided us through several motions and positions including
What we're talking about here is Ashtanga Yoga. I would easily call it 'power yoga'! It was an incredibly intense hour and a half. The intense part wasn't so much the new and different stretches and positions that my body wasn't used to. The intensity was in the repetition and on-going motion. You are allowed to "find your breath" if necessary, but continued motion is key. We didn't 'stop' for the entire 90 minutes, except near the end, to lie flat and focus on our breathing.
Although this was a beginner class, perhaps I should have taken the "introduction" class which is offered tomorrow, but I had the time yesterday, and it was a last-minute decision. My instructor, Colin, told me:
"We're going to drop you in the deep end tonight, but don't worry, there's another first-time student here -- see how you like it..."
I do like it, and I will go back because I'm stoked about finding something that isn't 'relaxing'. It's time to move, and I refuse to become a gym freak.
I must admit, however, it's the first time in my entire life, I swear, that I've gone from normally-human-dry to completely soaking wet with sweat inside of 10 minutes. Oh, and the sweat doesn't stop... ever.