5.03.2011

Yoga Practice

I bought a yoga mat about three years ago in the hopes of starting doing yoga. I needed exercise, as I do now, and yoga helps me stretch while working muscle groups out. It seemed like a great idea.

So I signed up for a two-class package at a local cultural center, and...was so demoralized after the very high-gear, gung-ho first class...that I didn't even bother getting a refund. I just never showed up again.

Everyone was stick-thin and most were blonde. And wore expensive looking, well-coordinated outfits. And they had great pedicures. Their toes shone like jewels over the wood flooring. I definitely didn't belong there.

My little yoga mat and I have stared each other down ever since. At home. Whenever I passed it on my way to the treadmill downstairs, I glanced at it furtively. As I was walking past on my way out to the garage, I acted like I didn't see it. But I knew it was there, that I was giving it the slip. It just stood by idle, patiently, waiting for the day I'd pick it up again.

The significant-other unit sometimes used the mat to do floor exercises that he learned from his personal trainer at the gym next door to where he works. A personal trainer. About a dozen steps away from his work desk. Some people are very unfairly facilitated. Meanwhile I just gave my mat the evil eye. The mat and my bumper-car sized hips.

So I finally signed up for two private yoga classes back in March. I drive by a yoga studio every day on the way home, and thought, gee why don't I check them out online and give them a call. And as fast as I had thought that action item up, it was a fait accompli.

I then followed up the two personal training classes with a six-week yoga fundamentals class. This past Sunday was class #4. I must say, it's been a blast.

Class is on Sunday mornings at 8:00 am. If you know me, you know this ungodly hour is a major sacrifice and quite a shocking display of discipline on my part.

However, I haven't been keeping up by practicing during the week. I've been lackadaisical. I haven't even been doing a good job of keeping up with my chiropractor mandated stretches. Why? I have no idea. I just need to get into it again, for real. Put on my grownup pants and just stick with it.

So as I am learning the fundamentals, in this six-week yoga class, I'm realizing that I ideally should take class during the week too. More times a week. This would not only increase my practice, but get more exercise into my weekly lifestyle and just end up in much more positive results.

As a matter of fact, it would get me much closer to my goal of losing approximately 40 pounds--which is probably as far away as, say, seeing a pig with wings. But that's a whole 'nother can of worms.

So, every Sunday morning, I get my little cheap mat and head to class. I got this particular mat, uncharacteristically, not as the result of arduous research, but rather, just a preference for its mossy-green color and print of a bamboo plant. If only I had known.

During one of our classes, our teacher began discussing yoga mats. What to look for when buying one. Everyone uses the studio mats and then wipes them down with a disinfectant wipe. :S

The instructor mentioned she really dislikes the Gaia brand--guess what brand mine is? ^^; My yoga mat is not as good as it should be. For starters, it's too thin, and secondly, it doesn't have a grip/non-slip surface. That's a big must. But you know what? I got it because I liked it, and I still do. I just compensate for it being too thin, by putting it on top of the studio mat.

To compensate for sweaty, slippery hands and feet during practice, I bought a Yogitoes towel--a yoga mat towel that has grippy/anti-slip dots on one side, and a thin towel texture on the other side. My teacher was trying to sell me one for $75. I got mine for $21 at Amazon with free shipping and a coupon. It was $48+ originally.

You put this on top of your yoga mat, and voila! No more slippy hands and/or feet during downward dog. And I do sweat to the oldies when doing downward dog.

I recently had to add to my paraphernalia, however. There's practical aspects to each of the items I am using in class and that can help me at home. Or in class. And best of all, by using my own versus the studio's, I'm cutting down on germies :S I don't like sharing my sweaty stuff with others. And I don't like getting sweaty stuff from others. Call me names if you must. It makes sense to me.

The first item I purchased was yoga blocks. These were $10 each and a bargain, I thought, at Naperville's Lululemon store. Mine are charcoal gray and have a thin, lime green line running along the middle, all the way around.

However--oh silly, young grasshoper--I yet again found out the error of my ways. These are three inch thick ones, and for beginners, it's best to use four inch thick ones. Oh well, I'll be doing moderately advanced versus just amateur. Compensate to make what you have work for you. That's my motto!

Then I purchased a yoga strap. It was just this past weekend though, so I haven't had a chance yet to take it to class and find out yet if I selected wisely or not. My strap is green and matches my yoga mat and the limey line on my blocks. I think it's Gaia.

I'm going to wince on Sunday in case she brings up the basics in strap shopping. But I'm pretty certain there's not much wrong you can do with straps. I hope.

Why don't I purchase supplies from my teacher? She's expensive. Very expensive. $98 yoga mat expensive. She charges full price. I'm already paying for the classes at full price. The first two, private classes were a splurge, not a habit. I pay full price for the quality lessons, not for the accessories. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So as I am going along, I am making mental compromises and compensating where possible. And where applicable, purchasing props that are economical but that make a big difference in my practice. Sounds reasonable, right?

I think practicing yoga has brought a number of positives to my lifestyle. It's a great way for me to become more adjusted to exercise regimes, without going nuts, which I don't like. It's stretching my adaptable thinking--a lot of the poses are visualization-based and require quite a bit of conscious focus of your entire body as you're entering and sustaining them. And I'm shopping for bargains making me feel extra happy when I'm using my props. I like them, even if they're not perfect to someone who has a lot of expertise and can see what they're worth.

I also realized I can't always wear the same two tops to class, so I got some new ones online. And a pair of cropped yoga pants. Yoga clothing is pricey!

Let's see if I manage to sign up for the gentle/restorative yoga class next. I have my eye on it but I haven't had a chance to partake just yet due to other commitments. This class will provide me ample opportunity to stretch well and use the muscle groups for each pose correctly.

Good times. Or at least, healthier ones ;o)