September 26, 2011

When yoga sucks.

“I don’t like yoga.” Or, “I tried yoga. It was ok, but…eh.”

When I hear this, I am always in disbelief because I fell hard and fast for the mat at my very first yoga class. Ok, it wasn’t my first yoga class because I’d taken some crappy gym yoga that didn’t make me feel particularly awesome. But the first time I went to a real yoga studio that was rooted in creating positive change in the world – that was it. I became a believer. Even though I was sore as heck. Even though it was hard work that I’d rather skip out on sometimes and go get a drink instead. For some reason…I kept going back.

I loved how I felt walking out of those classes. My head pleasantly buzzed, humming the Ashtanga opening invocation long before I learned the words. Accidentally leaving my water bottle at the studio or walking down the wrong street because I was so on Cloud 9.

Anyway, when other people told me they went to yoga and left unimpressed, I’ve always been confused. But – Aha! I finally get it. See, I got really lucky that I found some of the best yoga in Boston on my first try. I didn’t know any different.

When we moved away, I was psyched that our new home was a mere block from the closest yoga studio. I was pregnant and glad to take some prenatal yoga. After my son was born, I started going to other classes as often as I could. It was a pleasure to be back on my mat. Yet something was missing.

I kept going. I felt sure that if I just got back into it, I’d find that yoga high, I’d find my practice and all would be dandy.

But you know what? It sucked. I was spending $18 for a 1 hour class (ridiculous) and leaving each time feeling…eh. Like I didn’t get what I was looking for. The experience was totally forgettable. Or worse, maybe someone in class refused to move their mat over to make room for me. Maybe the teacher gave poor instruction, failed to provide any adjustments or options for more advanced poses. All in all, these classes were making me sad. I’d literally leave in tears.

Here’s my thought. If you tried it but didn’t like yoga, try a new studio. Try a new teacher. It’s not always the yoga – it’s the way it’s delivered. Or maybe it is the style of yoga. Or the personality of the studio. You gotta find a vibe that jives with who you are. Because I see other people in these full classes clearly enjoying themselves, enjoying the instructor. I’m just not one of them.

Finally, I got the idea to hop in the car and drive downtown for a class elsewhere. Yes, it takes 30 minutes to get there and I have to pay the meter half a roll of quarters to park. But the 1 hour class is only $10, which is much more appropriate. Yes, I have to bust outta there as soon as class ends in order to get home in time for the babysitter to leave. Yes, I was nervous that I’d get stuck at too many red lights and miss class altogether.

I’m happy to say, it’s been worth the effort. The teachers I’ve tried have been closer to what I’m looking for, the classes more adaptable to my level, the students more friendly.

There’s an arm-less, time-less clock placed at the front of the room. A little yoga joke. Tee hee.

Now, you might say that yoga is inside, that we don’t or shouldn’t need a teacher or a studio to be a certain way in order to find our inner peace. Well. Maybe you don’t. I do. I was getting too distracted in the studio I didn’t like. A home practice? These days I’m much too distracted by the baby, the laundry, whatever. At my new studio I feel good and I can go inside and find my center. For this, I’m grateful. For this, I’ll continue making the effort to get to class and get on that mat.

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Michelle Pfennighaus  |  Contribution: 320