Earlier today, I went to what was probably the worst yoga class (for me) ever. Like, ever.
It was an Iyengar-based class that used ropes attached to the wall that were supposed to help us get deeper into poses.
All it did was make my hands cramp, my elbows hyperextend (I think), and frustrate the hell out of me. Because I don’t go to yoga to get scolded for my incredibly tight runner’s hamstrings or shoved and pushed into a position my body just cannot hold. Within the first 15 minutes, I was debating whether I should just walk out.
But I stuck it out because one thing about yoga that I can get behind is the way it teaches me to feel okay when I’m out of my comfort zone. I see the yoga studio as a place to practice leaving that zone — pushing into Warrior I just a tiny bit more, holding handstand or full wheel just one more breath. It’s hard, and I don’t really want to be in this position, and I’m not totally sure if I’m doing it right, but I’m in full control. I got myself into this shape, this situation, and I can get myself out of it.
And I can stick with it even when it sucks. Which, sometimes, it does.
As I prepare to “officially” begin my marathon training cycle next week, I’ve been ramping up my yoga classes. As in, going every day since last Saturday. Partly to get my body good and stretched out, partly to build up a habit I hope to carry with me through January (and beyond — the goal is 2-3 studio classes a week, and 20-minute home practices other days), partly to get my money’s worth from my unlimited monthly membership for once.
Also, I earn points each class I attend that can eventually be applied to a discount at their retail shop. Because I need more yoga leggings that don’t fit my butt properly.
Anyway, to do this, I’ve tried a couple different teachers and class styles than I’m used to (which is primarily hot flowing – vinyasa – classes, all the time). And I’m already learning a few things about myself, my practice, and yoga itself.
Like I apparently have weak wrists.
I know this because on Saturday, the instructor focused the entire class on making us engage our feet and hands in EVERY. SINGLE. POSE. As I was rolling my wrists out at one point, noticing how tight and sore the tops felt, she mentioned that “If you’re sore on the bottoms of your wrists [on the same side as your palms], you’re getting stronger, that’s okay. If the tops of your wrists are sore, you’re weak there, and it’s that much more important for you to engage your hands and really plug your fingers and knuckle pads into the mat.”
Also, my shoulders are a lot tighter than I thought.
I’ve already accepted I will never be able to touch my heels to the ground in Downward Dog or completely straighten my legs in forward fold unless I stop running and start going to yoga, like, 2 hours a day, every day, for about 5 years. So…not gonna happen.
Also? I have no fucking clue what half the cues from a lot of instructors mean. In my experience, many yoga instructors are former dancers — people who are both naturally kinesthetically gifted and have spent most of their lives learning and acquiring an understanding of how the human body is put together and moves. So they say things like “push your coccyx down” or “widen your hip bones” or “move your thigh bones into your hip joints” and I’m shaking in whatever pose we’re supposed to be in going “BONES DON’T MOVE LIKE THAT.”
No joke: yesterday, I was told to “close the eyelids, then draw the eyeballs backwards, into the skull and away from the eyelids.”
I texted my med school-attending brother that one, who confirmed that isn’t anatomically possible.
Then decided if/when I do go through yoga teacher training, I’m also going to study up on anatomy (read: grill my brother, who’ll then be an MD) and start a YouTube channel to translate those WTF cues for us normal people who don’t know how to make hip bones move independently or where our T-7 vertebrae is. I don’t know when that will happen, but let me know if you have any gems (maybe in the meantime we can bring back those “Shit ___ Say” videos that were oh-so-hysterical and oh-so-overdone a few years ago).
Namaste, or whatever.