First Yoga Class

Being an Ironman, I sometimes have a little too much confidence in my ability to suffer through a workout.  I’ve done two iron-distance races, several long bricks, biked 134 ‘horribly hilly’ miles, climbed Mt. Evans….and because of it I tend to have confidence, sometimes too much, in my ability to survive a workout.  I know going in it won’t be my best workout ever, but I figure I’ll get through it.  I always have some way or another.

I’ve been doing yoga for about two months now, but it was all beginner yoga home DVDs.  Some of them are really good, and I enjoy them, but until this past weekend I had never ventured into a yoga studio for the real deal. 

Saturday, Courtney and I took a beginner yoga workshop that came with a week of free, unlimited classes at Bliss Flow Yoga in Madison.  The workshop was pretty basic and slow moving.  It wasn’t bad, but I had done enough home yoga at that point to need a little more than the workshop offered.  But it came with a week of classes so I figured I’d get my money’s worth eventually.

We thought about doing Power Yoga early Sunday morning, but opted for an ‘easier’ class instead – and later in the day: Yoga Flow.  It was 4-5:30.  Being the overly-confident (read: stupid) triathlete that I am, I did the math and decided this gave me just enough time to run 11 miles in the morning, eat some lunch, bike for two hours outdoors, get cleaned up and make it to class just in time.  And I was right.  Just enough time to get cleaned up and make it class….

….with very tired legs.

The class is taught by Marta, and if you believe yoga instructors weigh about 100 pounds and are all kinds of bendy and stretchy, Marta perpetuates that stereotype.  Oh yeah, she’s strong and teaches a tough class.  Tough because she likes to – meaning believes you should – hold poses for a while to get the full benefit.

I’m thinking I can go in with tired legs and get in some good, relaxing stretching and come out feeling like a million bucks.  Not the case, not by a long shot.  Holding warrior poses made my legs burn and shake and my balance, which is lacking on a good day, was pitiful.  We held the poses… and held the poses….and held the poses…..

…and we held our arms up and did some planks and then we did the side plank (with arms straight).  I didn’t realize it until we were in the plank, but my shoulders were really tired and they started shaking immediately and eventually I had to surrender.  I had to take a break and come out of the pose.  I was the only one in the class who couldn’t hold the side plank, and it was humbling….especially since it was my legs that were tired going into the class, not my shoulders.  It turns out my upper body strength is nothing to be proud of.  

In the end, I somehow survived the class and learned that, while some yoga classes are slow and easy, some yoga classes are very challenging and require a lot of strength and should be taken seriously.  I wasn’t feeling like the million bucks I was hoping for.  More like a wrinkled, tired, old dollar bill that’s been in circulation a little too long.

But I loved it (apparently, I love a proper thrashing) and returned for another class on Tuesday evening.  This was taught by the owner of the studio, and wasn’t quite as long or brutal and was exactly what I wanted: a little bit of strength work with plenty of flexibility work.  One of these days I will return to one of Marta’s classes and I can assure you I will be well rested and ready for a challenge.  Lesson learned (maybe).

I’m no yoga expert, not by a long shot, but I’ve done enough now to have some favorite poses which I think are great for stretching areas runners, cyclists and triathletes need work on to help prevent injuries and create balance between the right and left side, so I’m going to go over those in a future post.

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