By Tanya Tiger
I’d been looking for a way to unwind and take time just for me. I thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll try yoga, it looks relaxing and fun.”
Oh my, oh my (head shaking). Little did I know what I was getting myself into.
I hadn’t stepped foot into a yoga class—or any other kind of fitness class—in at least eight years. At 36-years-old, with a body that has given birth twice, and has had its fair share of partying and laziness, I was not entirely sure that this was going to be a good idea. I also knew that I needed to do something for my health and my sanity. So, I found a yoga studio nearby that allows you to pay by the class and also rented out equipment. I signed up for a class online and showed up in my workout pants, tank top, and t-shirt that says Dance Like No One is Watching.
I chose Barre Yoga as my first class for a few reasons.
1. It was supposed to be a beginner’s class.
2. It’s a class that dancers use to stay in shape (and I love dance).
3. I figured it would be easier than a typical yoga class with all the positions that I can barely pronounce.
I was wrong on all counts but, thankfully, not disappointed.
My yoga adventure started off with a positive, excited attitude but then I quickly became frustrated because I couldn’t find the building. I had Google mapped it twice, I drove by the location where it was supposed to be…twice.
As I made my way down the road becoming more exasperated by the second I decided to pull over and look at the directions and map one more time. I used the GPS on my phone and it led me right back to where I had driven past (twice) already. Just as I was about to yell “F-it” at the top of my lungs and drive home, I looked over and saw the sign.
As it turns out it shares a space with another business and they don’t have their name above the door. This near melt-down proved the point that I desperately needed to let off some steam. I grabbed my water, my towel and my phone and walked in.
As I entered the building a load of insecurities bubbled up. I saw these cute young women in their little yoga outfits and my inner-critic went B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
“What are you doing here? Look at these girls! They’re half your age, beautiful, skinny and probably have more experience in their little finger than you do in your entire body. Just walk out now before anyone notices you.”
I told my inner-critic to shut up and take a seat. I knew I could do this. I wasn’t going to let fear of any kind stop me.
I walked up to the “nicest” looking young woman there and told her that I was new, hadn’t stepped into a yoga class in at least eight years and asked what I was supposed to do and where was I supposed to go next. She smiled and told me where to put my shoes (we go in barefoot), and where I could relax until the room opened up. Thanking her, I put my stuff away and went to find a mat.
When the door opened it was like time had slowed down. The room was HOT and dark. I walked in, watching my classmates in my peripheral vision to see what they were doing. I laid my mat down toward the back of the room, put my towel and water down and started to stretch (because that’s what everyone else was doing).
I soon realized that the “back” of the class was the front and there was no introduction to the moves. The instructor walked in, said “Let’s get started,” told us to approach the barre (ballet bar) and went into the moves. I felt like I had just found myself tied to the back of a semi-truck with rollerblades on in a country where I didn’t speak the language.
I held on for dear life and went with the flow.
Everything happened so fast but I surprised myself by keeping up. I had to watch the other people or the instructor to make sure I had good form (or at least close to good form) but I was able to do all of the movements. I caught that nagging insecure voice creeping up a few times as I saw my reflection and that of others in the mirrors.
“Look how much skinnier than you they are. Look how graceful/flexible/confident they are.”
Again I thanked my inner-critic for coming but told her that she wasn’t invited to this party and went back to enjoying the feel of the movements. I felt really strong and proud of myself even as sweat dripped into my eyes and saturated my clothes. “I’m doing it,” I thought to myself. “Not only am I doing but I’m kicking maximum arse and it’s only my first class.”
I gave myself a mental high-five and took a deep breath so I didn’t lose my balance and fall over.
After class I exited the room and returned to the cubbies to pick up my stuff. I was hot, sweaty, looking like I had just given birth (red-faced, hair all stringy and standing on end), and strangely energized but tired all at the same time. A couple of the girls came up to me to ask what I thought of the class and if I’d like to join them for a post workout-workout. They encouraged me to keep it up and join them any time.
I thanked them and told them that I had a really great time but I had to get home to put my daughter to bed. I walked to my car, put on some good music, rolled the windows down and smiled to myself. I found something that challenged me, made me feel strong and capable and left me with a glow that lasted for a couple of days.
It felt good to put my insecurities to rest.
It felt good to feel how strong my body actually is. It felt good to have something that was mine. When I got home my daughter ran up to me and asked why I so red and sweaty. She hugged my leg, told me that it looked like I peed my pants, laughed and then asked me to show her some yoga. I told her that mommy was going to take a shower and then I would show her some moves. She told me to hurry and I did.
I spent the rest of my evening showing her yoga poses, singing her good-night songs, and reading to her before I tucked her into bed. I realized in that moment that not only was yoga something for me, it was something I could pass on to her as well. I was teaching her the importance of taking care of herself and taking time for herself.
That realization was just a cherry on top of my yoga sundae.
Editor: Dana Gornall