The Fear of Yoga

 

Who is afraid of yoga? Me.  I am not afraid of airplanes, traveling alone, elevators, nor tunnels. I am afraid of MRIs, escalators, and yoga.

I am not a yoga practitioner. I didn’t have my first yoga class until five months after I retired. That was two years ago. The teacher insisted on physically putting me in positions that did not make me feel comfortable. Think pretzels. I was more like a tree limb that refused to bend. After the second class, I walked out and never went back.

The thought of doing yoga never entered my mind again until last week. The pain in my arms doesn’t let me lift as high as I could before. I researched how to improve my range of motion. Yoga was the answer given 99% of the time. I couldn’t put it off anymore. I had to get rid of my fear of yoga. I watched yoga videos to understand the vocabulary. I tried the yoga poses on my own, but I needed to be with an instructor to know that I was doing the right thing.

 

I signed up for the yoga class at the local community center. The day before fear set in. What do I wear? Do I need yoga socks? What do I need to take to the class? I knew that I needed a mat and a bottle of water. What kind of mat do I need? I went to Amazon but didn’t see what I needed. I went to Target and found yoga mats. I found purple and pink. Does this mean that only women do yoga? Next to the mats, I found a “beginning yoga kit”. It included a purple mat, purple block, and a white strap. I don’t know how to put the strap on. I assume it is to carry the mat around.

On the morning of my yoga class, I took the mat out of the box. It smelled new. I had this feeling everyone would know that I was a beginner. I unrolled the mat for the first time when I got to class. It made the soft sound of unfolding polyurethane for the first time. I was nervous. I walked into the class five minutes early. There were twelve women in the group. I rolled out my purple mat. I wasn’t sure which side was face up so I watched the girl next to me. I saw that her label was facing up. I quickly turned my mat facing up. I didn’t know anyone and I was afraid to speak to anyone. The girl next to me asked if it was my first time. She knew. She saw me unroll the mat, the agony in my face, and the nervousness of my hands shaking.

The instructor came over to check off our names. She said you must be Carol. I said yes. She said she remembered me from the last yoga class. She remembered I didn’t come back. She was not my instructor for the first time, but she was the one who checked the attendance. I asked her if this required experience because I had none. She said no. This will be an easy yoga class. I wasn’t sure what she meant by easy. Nothing in yoga is easy for me.

We started the class by sitting on our mats with our legs crossed. I was able to do that. I was hoping I would be able to get up later. We put our arms out in a lotus position and meditated for about five minutes. She encouraged me to think of good thoughts. Forgive those who have done you wrong. Think of flowers, nature, and animals. I am not so sure about the animals.

We did some neck holding and stretching. So far so good. I can do this. Then we stood up. I could do that too. We stood in a pose with our right leg pointed to the front and our left leg pointed to the left of the mat. We reached up with our arms and made an arch. This was hard for me because it was painful. That’s ok. I told her ahead of time and she didn’t push it. My goal is to make my arms reach higher.

In one of the poses, we were required to stretch in a child’s pose and touch our faces to the ground. I could not get my face to touch the ground. I observed others who were using the blocks so they could touch their noses to the blocks and not have to reach the floor. I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t put her face to the floor. Now I know what the blocks are for. I left mine wrapped in plastic sitting on the kitchen table.

The last pose was to sit back on the floor and lay down with our shoulders flat on the mat. The instructor came around and applied some smelly stuff on my shoulders.

The class was over. The instructor told me I did great. I have no yoga fear from this class.

I will go back again.

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