This is simple yoga for beginners, from a man’s perspective. Today was my yoga day. I have been taking a yoga class once a week at my gym. Today was the day. Time to break out the yoga pants…err, NO, I am a man, I don’t wear yoga pants for crying out loud. Anyway, I digress.
Commuting is for the birds
My day started with a 45-minute commute to work, typical. Work all day, then drive 45 white-knuckle minutes to get back where I started. Sound familiar? Well, I really can’t complain too much, I am happy to be gainfully employed and I like the people I work with, for the most part. 🙂
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So, I hop in the car and get ready for the drive home. I typically switch between some sports radio and the news. I try to catch a traffic report, just in case Google maps isn’t on the ball.
Today the drive wasn’t too bad. I got home a little early, I attribute that to the fact that Christmas is coming and people have the week off.
Home at last…wait what?
So, I get home and work on getting ready for yoga, without getting distracted. Honestly, hat part is really hard. After a long day at work, I get home and the hardest part is actually getting myself motivated to get ready to go out again. I just got home and I don’t want to jump right back in the car and hit the road. The drive is only about 10 minutes or so to the gym, depending on how many way-to-slow drivers I get stuck behind. But still, I have to find the energy to get it done.
I am taking a Root yoga class to help my ailing back and my tight muscles. This dates back many years, and you can read my full story here. My buddy decided he would join me today, although he was apprehensive about his first experience with yoga. I told him everything would be fine, just don’t pay attention to me!
See, I just started yoga a few months ago and it’s probably one of the best things I have ever done. It hits me in all the right places. This article by Harvard Health Publishing examines the benefits of yoga. I am still learning all of the poses, but I sneak a peek every now and again to see what all the girls are doing. That’s right, it’s me and a bunch of girls, well women. These ladies are really on to something here with this yoga stuff. Maybe we should pay more attention guys.
My buddy and I arrive and take our place in the far back corner, where no one will see us. Oh, except when everyone is facing our way. We start out with some easy child’s pose. I told my friend that this is one of the “safe” poses if he gets stuck somewhere.
More for your core
I am still working on core strength. I thought I had core strength until I started taking yoga. The biggest thing I can’t get over is my inability to go from the top of a push-up to a runners lunge in one singular move. I am absolutely amazed at two things. First of all, the ladies can do it. Second of all, I can’t do it. It is really hard, especially for my ego. Oh, my poor bruised ego!!
We start in child’s pose. I really like child’s pose, it’s a great way to ease into my practice. Wow, I can’t believe I just said that “my practice”. That is what our yoga instructor says all the time, “this is your practice”. We are supposed to do whatever feels right for our body. Well, all jokes aside, I am really starting to understand this. Modify when necessary and if something hurts don’t do it. If it’s uncomfortable, that is okay, because that is how we grow. Okay, okay, moving on.
Mind you, this is all while, trying to maintain proper breathing. In through the nose, out through the nose. Breathing is really important! I know that sounds funny, but now I realize how true that is. It’s really easy to forget to breathe, at least for me, while yogaing (I just made that word up).
After a series of warm-ups, threading the needle with our child’s pose, some cat-cows to get the back nice and limber, we end up in down dog. Now, I have struggled with this one. My hamstrings, calves, and glutes are all tight, which has seriously contributed to my back pain. So down dog takes some easing into for me. I pedal it out (with my calves) as instructed. We gently move to a plank (the top of a push up).
How do you do that again?
Then here it comes…somehow I am supposed to lift my right leg behind me (hip height), then move my right foot toward the top of the mat to runners lunge. Supposedly you can do this without your foot ever touching the mat until you place it gently in between your hands. I call bull on that! This is where my lack of core strength rears its ugly head.
Here I thought all the planks, back extensions, and lunges, etc, I have been doing was making my core rock solid. Well, these exercises certainly help, but this yoga stuff is next level for me. Bending, twisting and contorting my body in ways I didn’t think I was capable of. Trying not to allow my body to make any funny noises that would draw attention toward me.
We then root the back foot and stand in warrior one or two, depending on what, I am not sure. Warrior two leads us to reversing the warrior, which leads to side angle stretch, which leads to lizard pose, which leads to plank. Whew, quite a sequence. We flow through, lowering ourselves to cobra pose (Bhujangasana). I had to Google that, so I can’t take any credit for knowing anything about the technical term for cobra pose. Then we do it all over again. Usually the second time through, I forgot the entire sequence, so I have to cheat and look at other people. Plus, this is when the instructor lets us “explore” different options with these poses.
Okay, so now that I am a sweaty mess, it’s time to move on. Some more of the same, flowing through, but now it’s kind of fun. We have now introduced warrior three. Moving from lunge to warrior three is an awesome challenge for me. Moving onto one leg, torso parallel with the ground. The other leg extended behind you and arms are pointed straight ahead. I like to think I am actually quite good at this since it seems to require a lot of leg strength. Yes! Finally, something I can win at. Oh, wait this isn’t about winning?
Some balancing poses, including tree pose, mountain, some forward folds. I am still working on my forward folds. My forward fold and half lift are about the same thing (that’s a yoga joke!). The instructor is telling us we are almost there. We do some other stuff, side planks, some dude in the corner is standing on his head. I am not really sure how we got here, but we are almost done!!
Mind you, the entire time the yoga instructor is telling us how great we look and what a good job we are doing. If only the rest of my life was so positive and encouraging. Finally, finally, it’s time to wind down. We lay on our backs, the lights go down. Oh yeah… It’s time for corpse pose!!
Corpse? Really? That’s what you call it?
Corpse pose is my favorite. The lights are low, I am now laying flat on my back, eyes closed. She brings around cold, citrus-scented towels. I put the icy towel over my face. It feels and smells fantastic. Ah, we just lay there and lay there.
Okay, just about time to get back to reality. We slowly start to wake our bodies up. I wiggle my fingers and toes, slowly start to wake up. One big full body stretch. We roll onto our right side, then make our way to the center of the mat. Hands together in the center of our chest.
It’s time to close the practice. We do this with one big inhale. Then we close the practice with the sound of one “Om”. So everyone does an Om for seemingly as long as they can exhale. Yet another nuance I have to get used to.
Time to clean the yoga mats and move on out so the next class can start.
I hope you have enjoyed my yoga experience. It’s my take on a new adventure I have started. I love the class and am seeing some benefits. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.