Recently, I took a Buzzfeed quiz entitled “What City Should You Actually Live In?” and received the result Portland. Yes, I was slightly disappointed to see that it was neither San Francisco nor New York (although I don’t even know if those are actual results) and with a little bit of dismay I realized I’ve become that girl. The one wearing activewear leggings and Nike frees all the time, sporting a ponytail and wanting to find the latest in coffee and pastries and go to Yoga and Pilates afterwards to burn it off. THAT GIRL. The yuppie granola yogurt eating one. A cross between a hipster and a workout junkie. I think. I mean, I did come from Berkeley so my “crunchiness” (as referred to by my hilarious manager at work, when I told her about how most of the stores in the Bay Area force you to bring your own grocery bags and give you dirty looks when you ask for a paper or a plastic bag, whereas in New York they give you both. BOTH!) should be inferred automatically, but it wasn’t until I dove headfirst into the athleticism of being a full-time dance student that I discovered a love for being active.
I guess it should make sense too. Dancing is active. Thus, I am active. (Yay, simple proofs!) But after being manipulated into taking Bar Method classes over winter break, I have realized that I actually do like these sort of organized workout and stretch classes where there is a teacher yelling at you – okay, encouraging you – and leading you through the different motions and actions. It keeps you motivated and basically it forces you to actually work out. And you’re paying for it so you always want to get your money’s worth, right?
Since I am currently en route to a full recovery, my wonderful physical therapist has been giving me exercises that I’m supposed to do at home, both stretches and strengthening exercises. It’s been difficult finding motivation to do them at home, but I’ve been trying. Last week, she suggested that I also find a yoga class to take to increase my stretching and core stability. So I googled places to go, and stumbled upon the Pure Yoga studio that is conveniently located only about 20 blocks away from me. I went for my first free trial class today and boy, was it an experience.
It was my first time going to an organized yoga class, the previous ones having only been a random mix of Pilates and yoga that were included in ballet summer intensive schedules. This time I went apprehensively to my pre-set mat (luckily I saw someone cleaning all of them beforehand otherwise I would have been very worried about bacteria and sweat and someone else’s germs) and waited to see what I was getting myself into.
I think I enjoyed my experience primarily because of the nature of the class that I took – it was very relaxing and somewhat easy for me, although of course my hamstring strain made stretches on my right side more difficult. But I could feel that my muscles were opening up due to the heat in the room – I broke a sweat like fifteen minutes into class! I am a sweater. Hahaha. A wool sweater. Not funny, okay.
I noticed a few things right away – I seemed to have stood in the wrong spot, maybe the spot everyone else avoids because they are more experienced, because I kept on running into this awkwardly placed column that was in the middle of the room. Reminded me of the columns that are placed in the middle of the studios at Joffrey. The lady next to me was intense and really, really good at what the teacher was asking us to do. In one of the final poses, we had the options of doing downward dog, childs pose, or handstands, and my mat neighbor went into this fully controlled handstand. I was in awe.
I still have some sort of reservation about the “practice of yoga.” I know that to some Christians, yoga is basically idol worship and I can see how that view is possible. There are things in yoga, such as the chanting, and the finding inner chakras and whatever, that aren’t entirely Biblical to me. On the other hand, I see yoga as a very beneficial physical practice that can help me recover. I think more prayer and discernment is required for me, but as of now I think I will continue to go to yoga classes.
I think I need to focus more on not comparing myself to others, either positively or negatively while in yoga class, which is a habit that I can bring into ballet classes as well. I was in awe of the lady next to me, but I felt proud that I could go pretty far back in inverted warrior pose compared to some of the other people. Also I almost burst out laughing when the instructor told us to concentrate on my breath and I swear I heard Darth Vader in the room.
But all in all, I had a good time there and I already feel the tension in my lower back decreasing and I am excited to go back for more classes! My favorite pose so far… is the Mountain pose. Look it up!