My very first yoga class and all I could think of was how can I possibly hold up for 90 minutes? Yoga is one of many backlogged items on my bucket list. I ran into an old friend at the gym who looked fit and radiant. Yoga was her secret. She invited me to meet at a Saturday Iyengar Yoga class at our gym but warned me that she might not be able to make it. I agreed, reluctantly.
As the first person in the mirrored sun-lit room I was apprehensive. A fresh pedicure, new yoga pants, sports bra that fit and comfy black T-shirt did little to quell my anxiety around being the “newbie. I clung to the brand new sticky yoga mat, my husband unearthed from the recesses of my messy closet, as I awaited the teacher and class. The instuctor was the next in the room. Beth was tall and slender with delicate facial features and alabaster skin I wasted no time in letting her know that I was brand new and rattled off a litany of physical ailments that would leave most in bed with the vapors. Beth was calm, centered and very attentive as I imagined a Yoga teacher might be. She assured me that we would start in a way that would be appropriate for my fitness and flexibility level. As other members of the class poured through the door the specter of 90 minutes of stretching, flexing and contorting became a chilling reality. No sign of my friend. I took some deep yoga breaths and thought about bailing.
My departed mother’s words rang in my ears Marshy, you never finish anything you begin, do you? I settled my hot pink yoga mat, horizontally, on the gleaming hard wood floor and neatly placed a folded blanket and two blocks at the head of the mat as Beth instructed. We started with a basic cross-legged position and did some breathing. As we segued from that to more difficult and complicated postions and movements Beth gave me licence to do as much or as little as I felt comfortable doing. Ten students in the glass and I was the only one who could not participate in the “full head stand”. Later I found out that most of the students were very advanced with years of experience. While in a classic crouching postion Beth suggested that we detach ourselves as much as possible and I found myself morbidly glumped onto my matronly image in the mirror noting that I was the fattest, shortest and oldest of the group.
And so I morphed back into the awkward, over weight and shy girl in the middle school gym who was last picked for every team and the clumsy girl hiding in the back row in dance class hoping that the teacher would stop reprimanding her for doing everything wrong.
As is usually the case, my performance was not as poor as I imagined. A perfectionist I expect miraculous outcomes and can be very hard on myself. The reality was that I was good with certain exercises and actually felt calmed by some of the new positions my body found itself in. Beth gave me a few, “nice, marsha” comments and I could feel myself relaxing. It might have been in the 82nd minute in which we lay on the floor of the now darkened room in a powerful guided meditation that I finally let go. What I am sure of, however, is that I am going back. At 62 it is exciting to have something new to look forward to.