Yoga And The Art of The Human Pretzel

Published January 25, 2013 by mindfulofchatter



I have never thought yoga was something I wanted to try. It always looked silly. The people who participated seemed to be of the hippie/hipster/bohemie type who wore nothing but organic fabrics, sported dreadlocks and spouted on and on about how dangerous your food was. I didn’t like the idea of being told to meditate in a class situation. Besides, how could all those silly looking poses be so good for your body? How on earth could that ever build tone and muscle? I have tried to meditate on and off with no real success. My mind won’t shut up. I think I have it cleared, then up pops a to do list, or what color should I paint that wall conversations. My mind is full of chatter (ta-da!).

You can see how unaware I was about yoga on how it worked.

This year, I began by looking for something to do for my body. I hate to run, so going for a jog is out. I seem to manage a regular gym routine for about two weeks before I am bored and stop going. I do walk, but I need more than just a long walk. So what to do, what to do.

Yoga kept popping up. I’d turn the TV and there would be some little spot about yoga. I’d catch a millisecond of a show I never, or rarely watched, only to have it feature a snippet on yoga. Okay, universe. you can stop beating it into me. I’ll go take a gander at yoga classes. *sigh*

I began online looking at the yoga classes offered locally. Most are at yoga studios. I found the prices to be way out of my budget. Classes were offered in sessions only. If I paid for a session, I wasn’t going to be eating anytime soon. They all incorporated meditation, or some sort spiritual journey. Now, I am not an organized religion kind of girl. I find, for myself, too many issues with them. And while I embrace a more spiritual outlook, and love to learn more, I don’t want to be force-fed someone else’s interpretations. Plus, no one offered a beginning class when I could attend (I live in place where it is assumed we are all retired or students who can attend 10 am classes. Yeeaaah.). I was getting frustrated and a little angry. I took a deep breath and hit – Craigslist.

Under the classes tab I found it. A yoga class for all levels. At a time I could attend. With an instructor who has loads of teaching under his belt. And the first class is free. I could try it with no cost to me.

I showed up a little early in my easy-to-move-in clothing (okay, I have yoga pants. But I bought them for the gym because they were only thing I could that was long enough), met the instructor, who was happy and took the time to talk to me a little. He had extra mats for us who didn’t have our own. He introduced himself and his partner/girlfriend to the class. He talked a little about yoga and how it ‘works’. And off we went.

The teacher is great. He makes it fun, adds little interesting tidbits about yoga, and makes sure we all work within our respective levels. He tells us to celebrate where we are in our levels, and that its okay to fall over (and a few of us do). Our bodies will learn and get stronger. He makes gentle corrections and takes the time to help those of us who are clueless. One of his goals is to teach us to listen to our bodies. To go where it is a challenge, but not a pain. To to be able to feel where our bodies are and how they feel in terms of alignment and relaxation. It isn’t easy.

You know what else? My mind stopped making lists, choosing colors and generally babbling on about nothing. It actually began to think about the body it is attached to. Where my arm was and if it was properly aligned with my hip. How my muscles and joints felt about how far they were being stretched. I almost fell over when it all hit.

In my latest class, my lower back made a popping, rolling sound/feel when we were on cool down poses. It didn’t hurt. It felt good. I told the teacher, and he said my body is beginning to align itself, and that is very good. I already notice I don’t hurt as much in the places I normally hurt. I am standing up straighter without thinking about it. My balance has already improved a little bit.

I can’t say yoga is for everyone. you have to find what works for you. I can say if you try yoga, don’t give up if you don’t gel with the teacher. Try a different teacher before you just quit. Yoga can be fun, and it is a challenge. My body is a little sore here and there, but it is a happier body after just a few classes. I am learning body control and connection. My mind is learning to shut up and talk to its body. Never, in a million years, would I have thought that would ever happen.

I can’t make myself into a pretzel yet. But I’m sure it will come. Even if it’s only half a pretzel, it will be more than I can do now.


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