As most of you know my husband has extensive back issues. Living with chronic pain Chris has tried multiple things through the years, going down the checklist of remedies rapidly. Some things work for a while but he always reverts back to being in agony.
So was the situation when we headed to our first yoga class last week. Through the years my cousin would occasionally mention that Chris should try it. I would dismiss said suggestion as quickly as she'd bring it up. He likes beer. And football. And guy stuff. He'd never go. Ever. Well it's funny, what being in an enormous amount of pain will make you do.
Our instructor had come highly recommended and having spoken with her on the phone I knew Chris was in good hands. Because we both work out regularly we decided to give the "All Levels" class a try. Prepped with our mats, towels and water bottles we entered an almost 90 degree room - that felt every bit of it. For the next 75 minutes we were going to become human Gumbys (remember him?) and the heat's purpose was to facilitate that. I found this online during my initial research:
Hot Vinyasa Yoga is performed in a heated room (85-90 degrees) because of the benefits it offers the body. Heat allows for muscles to ease through their full range of motion but is not an excuse to push muscles beyond their limits. Heat improves circulation and metabolism and strengthens the cardiovascular system. Sweating aids in detoxifying the body and rejuvenates the skin.
Sweating indeed! After the first fifteen minutes of upward and downward dogging I was like "Good Lord, we have another HOUR left?!" (My husband concurs. It was the hardest workout either of us have ever done). I'm lucky because my body was already quite flexible going into the experience, which made most of the postures relatively easy to maneuver and hold. I have to say that keeping a grip on yourself when you're LITERALLY wringing wet with perspiration was like trying to wrangle a wet, soapy infant in a bathtub. Not easy.
While far from pretzel-like, I'm proud to say Chris did really well for his first time. Especially since he was trying to keep up with the girl in front of us who'd obviously been practicing since she was five. The instructor hadn't been exaggerating when she told us it would be intense and she'd keep us moving. We got through it though!
I liken my initial group yoga experience to the first time I was on a cruise, for my honeymoon. We weren't on a very large ship and hit rough seas with 25-30 foot swells. Folks left and right were a frightful shade of seasick green, but having taken medicine faithfully, we felt fine. That being said I still didn't like it. The movement was constant and not something I was accustomed to (but doing the Electric Slide in the Disco on the 14th floor of a swaying ship was a funny experience). At one point I declared I'd never go on a cruise again! That was about 15 cruises ago.
My venture into yoga had me sweaty and challenged, not to mention a bit nauseated, from unfamiliar movements in hellish heat, but overall it was a good experience. Even in class number one I challenged myself. Yoga, beyond physical, is also a mental conditioning. I wasn't sure it was possible but the teacher had me upside down in a "wheel" position because she knew I could do it (told you I was flexible LOL).
The backside of the class took things slower with an awesome cool down. Deep breathing combined with postures that stretch you in a relaxing way, accompanied by the gentle pressure of the instructor's hands on your muscles to release stress and tension, felt wonderful. I was wiped out when we left but just a day later found myself entertaining the thought of a return trip.
Something that's good for my body and soul. This yoga thing might be addictive ...