Giving Yoga a Second Chance

With all due respect to my dear yogi friends and aficionados, I just don’t get it.

I desperately want to get it; I think yoga would be a great tool for someone like me to learn how to just “be,” find inner peace and really respect my body.

I just haven’t found success with it to date.

I tried a bunch of Hatha yoga classes back when I lived in D.C. But the Washington Sports Club near me only offered classes at the most inopportune times, and the only one I could make was the 6:30 p.m. Tuesday class, which meant getting changed at work, a hellish 40-min. commute on the Red Line (anyone familiar with the DC Metro system knows the Red Line always seems to be delayed for one reason or another), a quick jog to the gym … and arriving to class a sweaty, breathless mess.

I was in no condition at that point to tune out, relax, rejuvenate, focus on my mind-body connection, or let myself go, try as I might.

Even when the instructor dabbed luscious lavender essence on the insides of our wrists (which tickled me more than anything) I couldn’t truly find my own inner sanctity, despite the soothing, calming elixer.

Sure, yoga as a sport had many things going for it for me. Years of dancing rendered me flexible even in my 20s, and I caught on quickly. I found getting into the poses to be challenging, yet liberating once I figured them out. And when I could hold a pose a little longer each week without faltering, or sink into my own breath better, I felt surges of pride. I’d even watch my body in the mirror and (wow!) appreciate the gentle curves I saw.

But unfortunately for me and those who love me, I am not a patient person, and I know the practice can take years and years to master.

So when I found myself hemming and hawing over going to class or hitting the cardio machines and the weight bench, I gave up, not giving yoga the chance it deserved.

Truth be told, I don’t think I tried hard enough.

I mean, what was I was expecting, miracles? That I’d start yoga classes and suddenly find enlightenment?

Um, hello, Melissa…Yoga is an art, a process, a practice, a devotion, a way of life. (Yogis, feel free to insert any other appropriate adjectives).

Not surprisingly, given my track record, I fell victim to impatience, and the mental blocks paralyzing me.

Thoughts like, “I’m at the gym, I should be sweating. This is a waste of my time!”

Or, “OMG, I didn’t e-mail my boss that final draft before I left! I’m screwed!”

My mind seems to always be wandering. When talking to someone, I’m often multi-tasking: listening to what they’re saying; trying to not scratch a mosquito bite that is annoying-the-hell-out-of-me; thinking about if I have time to stop and get gas on the way to the bank before it closes at 5; wondering if we ran out of apples at home. It never seems to turn off.

So as you can see, I am a most excellent candidate for yoga.

And now, I think I am ready to give it another chance, to see what classes exist around here. My gym is a beef-cake/meat-head gym and doesn’t offer them, but I am sure I can find something. Maybe I’ll even ask a friend to join me.

How about you? Do you practice yoga, and if so, how has it changed your life?


13 thoughts on “Giving Yoga a Second Chance

  1. Well, I guess I fall somewhere in between. I like yoga a lot and find it to be a great strenthening and balancing exercise. And the relaxation bit at the end is good for me…But I wouldn’t say that it changed my life, either. It is something that I like to do, once or twice a week, as a nice change.

    I think the key is to find the right “kind” of yoga. For someone like you who wants to be “doing” all the time, why not try a power or flow class? That one will work you into a sweat AND calm you down! Sure, it won’t burn as many calories as pounding down the miles on the treadmill or doing sets would, but I don’t think calorie burning or “bulking up” should be our only exercise goals!

  2. Yasmin, that is an excellent point, about finding the right kind of yoga, as well as using it as a strengthening/balance exercise. All exercise, as you noted, shouldn’t be only about calorie burning and bulking up. I need to remember that!! I’ll see about flow classes, see what’s offered around here!

  3. Oh Melissa, I am most anxious to see the responses to this post! I hope some Type A folks will share their journeys from the mental spinning mind, to learning how to let it all go and find that inner peace.

    Also, some of it is probably your age. Being 10+ years older than you, I have found my spinning mind has improved over the years.

  4. Hey you! Yes, try harder!! 🙂 As a transition into yoga for type a’s, i recommend power yoga, bikram yoga, or a vinyasa flow yoga. all of these will make you SWEAT. they are great for type a’s. After you’ve done them for a while, you may be ready for a more traditional hatha practice. it took me a couple of years of power yoga before i could start to understand the value of a slow practice. and i still have to pick the days when i’m mentally prepared for stillness. when i’m stressed, i do much better with a vinyasa class. the intense concentration and effort it demands lets my mind release, so that by shavasana (ending meditation) I can actually let my brain float. (Unless i’m hungry… then it’s harder. Then sometimes I can’t stop thinking about what i’m going to eat!)

    Try many different classes, many different instructors, many different times of day.

    Hopefully you can find a good power class in Kazoo. I am spoiled here in LA, no doubt, in terms of quality and variety of what’s available.

    Challenge yourself! 🙂

  5. One more thing – I just read Yas’ post. I actually think a poweryoga class will initially burn even MORE calories than your running, since it will be knew to your body. It is cardio and weights at the same time.

  6. Thanks so much for the insight Sara, one of my yogi experts!! 🙂 I will def look into power yoga classes then!! I really appreciate all your knowledge–keep it coming, ladies!

    Oh Nancy, too funny!!

  7. Hi Lisa, iloveglassbeads here. Yoga has changed my life, in more ways than one. Physically, mentally and emotionally. Now, I can’t imagine my life without yoga. The benefits are tremendous and for those who say you won’t burn alot of calories haven’t take the right class 🙂 You will build strength, flexability and an overall sense of calm if you are doing the “right” yoga for you.

    I would recommend a flowing class like vinyasa, that is what I take. You flow with the breath through poses rather than hold them for a long time, lots of sun salutations and movement. The constant flow helps keep the mind focused and gets the heart rate up at the same time. I have burned upwards of 350 to 400 cals in one class. according to my HRM. I don’t wear it anymore because yoga now means much more to me than a workout.

    You may also like Kundalini yoga which can be odd to some but leaves one feeling refreshed and energetic yet relaxed. It is alot of breath work and “reps” mixed with meditation and relaxation.

    Hope this helps and feel free to email me anytime to discuss more.

    Oh, and P.S. I am your typical type A as well (which is why I think yoga changed my life so much)

  8. I, like you, need to sweat during workouts. I used to go to a Bikram studio and it is amazing. They had Bikram and Power yoga. They make you sweat and really allow you to balance and focus. Focus on nothing else but the room…which for a multi-tasker might just be what you need. I would look around and see what your little corner of the world has to offer you for these two practies.

  9. Hi Lisa and Kendra, I found a studio close by that is re-opening next week and offering some cool classes. I am going to sign up, I think! At least giving it a shot. They have some cool options! And Lisa, I hope to leave the HRM behind–I never work out without it, but this should be about more than the workout. Thank you!

    Kendra, that makes perfect sense with why Bikram or Power yoga might be good for me. Thanks!!

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