Sunday, November 25, 2012
Hello, My Fellow Sparklers!
A bit of warning: The following might sound like a lot of complaining, so if you're not in the mood to handle a little of the negative, you might want to sit this one out. It's only my account of some brief, unpleasant experiences in my life, not typical of my usual sunny disposition. I'm very interested to hear about your yogic adventures. I SO want to be a yogi (I mean yoga-doer, not the guy siting on top of a mountain in diaper, seeking enlightenment. But that would be cool, too). So far, the closest I've come is fandom of yogi berra.
Did you see the SparkPeople article about "Hot Yoga"? I started to write a comment in response to it, but my comment got really long (oh loquacious me!), so I decided to make it a blog post instead. (And, of course, I've added more to it.)
I have had very limited experience with yoga. The first time I ever tried it I was supposed to meet some friends from work at a class. Long story short... They didn't show up. I fell over. I decided to not attend a yoga class again until I had practiced a little. I went home and ordered some yoga DVDs to do at home and never used them.
One thing that has always been difficult for me with yoga is that the types of yoga have different names (from Sanskrit?) At the place I'm about to tell you about they had the names of the types of yoga on the schedule, but these names were completely foreign to me. I had no idea what kind of yoga each one stood for. Sure, I could have Googled these, but I really think they should have had a "key" (i.e., definitions) on the schedule. Even when the instructors would say that a certain type of yoga was "stretching" or "strengthening" or "flowing" I could never remember which was which.
Fast forward a few years, living in another state now. A new yoga studio had opened in my area and offered a really good deal on a one-month trial membership. I purchased their trial deal. The class times didn't work well with my schedule, so I wasn't able to attend as many as I would have liked. The class time that did work better with my schedule was hot yoga, so in about the third week of my trial membership, I tried it. When I attended the other other yoga classes I had established a habit of taking a place in the back of the room by the door to the hall because I was trying to be inconspicuous, but the mirrors prevented that. At the beginning of each class the instructors always asked if anyone had any "special issues" that they should be aware of & I always informed them of my history of back injury. (By then my back pain had mostly resolved, but had left my back muscles weak & unstable at that time.) They generally seemed to forget about that later, though and one instructor seemed determined to try to get me to stand on my head. (I had to work up my, "Either you're crazy or you think I'm stupid" look.) The usual comment from the instructors after class was that although I was flexible, I needed to work on "challenging" myself and focus more on the strengthening exercises. (Did you not HEAR me when I told you about my back injury, because you responded like you understood!!!???) In general, I felt really judged there. Much more so by the instructors than by my fellow "students", which was not at all what I had expected.
When I decided to attend the hot yoga class I did not realize that I was supposed to bring a towel & the studio didn't have any to lend. I did bring my own yoga mat because I had learned that it was very uncomfortable for me to do the poses on their TILE floor with the very thin mats they provided. I was glad to hear that they "sanitized" their mats after every class, but considering how unimpressed I was with the instructors there, I'm thinking that they do this only as a legal requirement.
So, when I decided to try the hot yoga class I only had a week left on my trial membership and I wasn't planning to continue after end of the month. I had to leave the room to cool off because I felt like I was overheating under their heat lamps (they were hanging from the ceiling like we were food at a "drive thru". I saw a review on their website from someone experienced in yoga & this person was adamant that this is not how the rooms are supposed to be heated). The instructor actually came out to the place where I was, in the carpeted hall area by the changing rooms (it was by the back door to the place & --this is strange: the door was LOCKED --fire exit, anyone?-- so there was no "traffic" there & I wasn't in anyone's way). I was minding my own business, cooling down & trying to do some yoga poses out there, and she says that I shouldn't be going in & out of the room, back & forth between hot & cold. (The article here recommends leaving the room if you're overheating.) So, I said, "Okay, I'll leave, then." I stayed for a few minutes, just to stretch & cool down and then I left and never went back.
This experience hasn't put me off yoga entirely, though. I've been meaning to try a "Plus Sized Yoga" class in my area. The instructor identifies herself as a "Plus Sized" woman and I'm looking forward to feeling more comfortable and accepted there. I've been by the place and the room is more like a dance studio; I'm happy to report that they don't have tile floors. This one is really just stretching yoga (whatever that's called), not fitness yoga like the classes I attended. I really hope that, this time, I can get into it. Maybe, to semi-quote the great Mr. Berra, yoga (like baseball) "is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical".
Have you tried yoga, hot or not? Your thoughts?