My First Yoga Class
Like everyone, I was intrigued and had a desire to know what yoga was all about. I loved working out and wasn’t a stranger to the gym but I wanted to join a class that was completely different, a change from the cardio and resistance machines, yet an activity that helped build strength and increase flexibility.
I went to my local gym, Fitness First in Tottenham High Road, around 2006, way before it sadly burned down in the 2011 riots. I was a passionate gym member and was psyched ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ was on the class schedule. My sister in law was a fan of this particular yoga practice and swore by it. She exuded such poise and grace, which encouraged me to go!
I remember vividly being at the front of the class and our yoga instructor giving us directions on how to stand at the top of our mat. Once everyone seemed to be in a comfortable standing position, we bought our hands together in prayer and our yoga teacher busted out with a lengthy invocation. I took a quick peek around to see whether this was normal, and yes, everyone around me did not flinch! For a moment I believed I was beamed in to a parallel universe and no longer in Fitness First in Tottenham! Being who I am and enjoy taking part in doing new things, I quickly decided to immerse myself and mumbled along the best I could. Although I was completely lost and didn’t quite understand what it was we were doing or saying, it surprisingly set the mood for the session. Once the chant ended and the physical practice began, I fell in love.
The movements, the breathing and how every posture melted in to the next was a refreshing challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I love strength training and building up a sweat, however this was a non-judgmental practice and after my first ever session, I felt mentally relaxed and more in love with myself. It could’ve been the subtle breathing cues, which were given throughout the class, but by the end of it I felt I reached a real content and happy state.
Nearing the end of the class, to me everything seemed straightforward. We were given gentle instructions to lie down on our backs, toes rolled out and palms facing the ceiling, which I adhered to. However I became slightly perplexed again when we were told to lie in this corpse/savasana pose for a couple of minutes. Not do anything. Lie there and relax. At this point I became fully aware of everyone in the class. I remember lying on my back, focusing on the panels on the ceiling, in the dimly lit room, thinking about what I should watch when I get back in. My mind was still active.
Overall my first impression was positive. I felt good, I had a great sleep and my body felt worked the next day!
What started as a journey to keep me fit, has evolved. Certain things I found peculiar at the beginning, such as the invocations/chants and corpse poses, are now the very things I absolutely adore about yoga
To anyone who is curious to do a class, take a leap and embrace it!