Calling all yogis… help!

November 29, 2007

yoga pose

I love to run. Sweating is therapy. I don’t ever want to be as sedentary as I was in my mid 20s when I thought I’d just be like a lot of other people and just not workout. But oh no, that officially does not work. I’m glad it doesn’t. It feels great to be active.

I want to love yoga, but it hasn’t been as easy for me to get into it as running has been. I have a yoga DVD called yoga for fitness or something, but I hate it. I have never made it all the way through the video and I usually stop after the warm-up. I think it’s because the exercises these women do aren’t the kind of yoga I respond to. There’s a lot of deep squat poses, but it doesn’t seem like the poses flow together.

My history with yoga
One time last year, I took a beginner’s level yoga class with my friend Tiphanie. I fainted. In class. While doing this one particular stretch. I guess I forgot to breathe. Oh, and eat and drink enough. My doctor said I fainted because I was dehydrated.

I’ve been sort of scared (yeah, seriously scared) of yoga ever since. Of course, it was sort of a fluke that I fainted, but now I have a little bit of anxiety every time I practice it because I always think I’ll pass out cold like I did the one time.

I was stressed by yoga. It’s the total opposite of how yoga is supposed to affect you.

The story doesn’t end there. Later that year, I started attending the free yoga sessions at work (because cot dammit I’m gonna learn to love yoga). It was actually a really nice experience except for the minor anxiety (read: flashbacks of fainting) I experienced the two times I attended. What I really liked about those classes was the fact the instructor was extremely calm and she turned the lights out and it was so soothing. Unfortunately, those free classes were canceled when my company moved to a different facility that has an attached athletic club. Now, if I want to do yoga I have to join the gym at work.

This year, I befriended a yoga instructor and we did yoga together just the two of us and that was beautiful, too. I mean, she’s a certified instructor and I got to do them for free of charge in an artist’s studio. Yeah, that was pure luck! But it was weird because I wanted to impress her with my yoga skills (which are nil, if you’re keeping count) and I still had a bit of lingering anxiety about fainting and I think I over did it. I burned out after another two sessions.

So, I didn’t want to try yoga anymore. But I think about yoga being this calming, peaceful workout. Pretty much the opposite of running and you should know I love me some balance. So I really would like to bring yoga into my life the way running is. To balance my workout and the stress caused by living.

Where I stand now
I need help and wisdom from you yoga gurus. Any tips for a beginner who has tried “everything?”

My yoga options
I was thinking I need to find the right combination for the best yoga experience. Which I hope will lead me to incorporate yoga into my workout routine. My ultimate goal!

Where do I begin? There are these videos I haven’t tried yet that look really interesting:

Yoga For Indie Rockers
Yoga for Dummies Dance the Chakras Yoga

Then there’s the whole question of me using a video in my home or taking a yoga class. Anyone have any comments on that? Is one better than the other? I do like working out at home and I’m fairly consistent with it, so it’s not like I will lack motivation if I did the video rather than attending a class.

Bikram yoga

Just like beer (mm! beer), there are different types of yoga. There’s Hatha, Vinyasa, Kundalini, and Bikram to name a few. I have no idea what kinds of yoga I’ve done in the past. I do know it wasn’t Bikram!

I think I’d like fluid yoga, moving from one pose to the next like a dance rather than, “Grab that leg and hold it… don’t forget to breathe.” I don’t know if that makes sense. Probably doesn’t. I also want to add flexibility to my body. I don’t see myself doing any fancy pretzel moves soon, but I want to be able to stretch and bend, hold it and not feel awkward or off balance.

So please, any advice from anyone who’s done yoga before, would you kindly leave your ideas, comments, testimonies (testify!!!)? Thanks!

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3 Responses to “Calling all yogis… help!”

  1. yogasuzi Says:

    I have to say, as a yoga teacher, I don’t usually recommend trying to learn from videos and books. I know there are a multitude of them out there, but the potential for injury, boredom, inattentiveness, is all there in the shiny wrapper. There’s no one there to say “hey, you’re not doing that correctly and you could get hurt”. Frequently, after a few uses, the video (shiny wrapper and all) are on the shelf.

    I recommend you find a basic (hold and breath, as you put it) Iyengar-style class you can stand. I know sometimes the pace is slow, but what you want is to build “muscle memory” so you can take a flow, or Vinyasa-style, class without getting hurt because you don’t understand the alignment of the poses. Different teachers have different ways of presenting poses, and chances are, you’ll find one you’ll like.

    And then, try to build a little bit of a home practice on your own. You don’t have to be a purist… you don’t have to burn incense, chant, or meditate if you don’t want to. You really just have to work on a few poses that interest you.

    I tell my beginning students that 10-20 minutes a day is plenty. (1) Do a couple of warm up poses, (2) Do a pose you really like and are comfortable with, (3) Try one you’re working on, don’t like as much, or are intrigued by, and (4) Lie in final relaxation for at least three minutes.

    I think there’s more benefit in 20 minutes a day than there is in a 90-minute class every week. However, that doesn’t mean you should skip class, which is where you’ll learn the fundamentals you need and will be exposed to new idea.

    Most of all, remember that non-violence begins with how you treat yourself. Yoga is a gift to yourself. Have fun!

    Also, you can check out my blogs for some ideas about yoga practice and philosophy, if you’re interested.

  2. yogisamantha Says:

    I agree with yogasuzi. Take a class. Also, try going to a Yin class. It is very relaxing and totally different than anything you have appeared to have tried. Do not force it. Find a yoga teacher that sympathizes with you and your body so you do not over do it.
    Most of all RELAX and do not pressure yourself to like yoga. It is okay not to like it. Just do something else that speaks to your soul and relaxes you.


  3. wow! this is such helpful advice for me. i’m going to look for a class to join very soon. this is awesome. thanks for helping me make the decision and forget about the tapes! you guys rock.


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