13 7th Street S, Sauk Centre, MN 56378
BY Heather Zollman
I Walked Out of My First Yoga Class
Sept. 17, 2018
I am being totally real here…I hated my first yoga experience. Friends, I do not like the word hate., but that fully describes what I was feeling. Let me set the stage here on where I was in my life and how I got to this class in the first place…
I was in my junior year of college, and LOVING the college experience! My boyfriend (now my husband) and I worked out at this little hole in the wall gym regularly. It was cheap and had what we needed. We got to know the owner of the gym, since we were there a lot, and eventually he asked me if I’d like to start teach fitness classes there. I was super excited about the idea! Now, this was back in the 90’s when Tae Bo and step aerobics classes were just as popular as Mickey Your so Fine (Toni Basil), hair scrunchies and scrunchy socks. Awesome times! He wanted me to teach aerobics, Tae-Bo (a martial arts/work out) and the newest thing (according to him) YOGA (which is actually about a 5000 year old practice.) I had done lots of aerobics and Tae Bo up until this point but had barely heard, of let alone done any yoga. He said, “there’s this yoga teacher in town whos supposed to be awesome! I talked to her and she said you can come to her classes and see what it’s about.”
Okay. No problem. The class was at 9:00 on a Friday morning (I can’t believe I remember this!) . . . VERY EARLY for a college girl in Mankato, where Thirsty Thursday was the biggest party night of the week, and I didn’t have to get up for classes on Fridays. (My friends and family will find this shocking since now sleeping in for me is 5:30 am:))This was NOT very convenient for my oh so important schedule of sleeping off the effects of the night before, but okay. I guess I could hide in the back of the class without anyone noticing me. So I left my apartment at 8:58 for that 9:00 class dressed in a t-shirt, shorts and puffy scrunchy socks. When I got to class around 9:10 I busted in the door of the studio still wiping sleep from my eyes. When I could see clearly, I saw this…
A quiet room filled with quiet people. No Mickey Your So Fine blaring to hide the fact that I just walked (busted) into the studio. A tiny little lady (she looked a little like Tinker Bell, just older with very short hair) was the teacher. She was talking quietly, guiding the class through a series of poses and telling them to breathe. In my head I thought…duh. Why wouldn’t they breathe? They’re alive right? (I’ve seen this thought bubble many times from new people in class.) I quick sat on the floor, no mat. I didn’t bring one, and didn’t want to cause more of a ruckus. I started doing what she said…poses and breathing. (I had barely ever stretched in my life! I could rock anything that required moving…just not being still. And maybe running, wasn’t so great at that either. But everything in between…count me in!) We came into Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) and stayed, and stayed and stayed. Now I understood the breathing cue. Good Lord! How (why) can (would) people do this and still remember to breathe?!?!?! My mind was racing . . . Is the teacher pissed that I walked in late? Can people tell that I have no idea what the hell I’m doing? What if I fart!?! And on and on. It was the longest minute of my life!!! So . . . I walked out. I walked out. I walked out of my first yoga class . . . quickly. I made it through 1 pose. I left and I didn’t looked back. As I left, I thought what the heck was that? Why would anyone invent that? Why would anyone want to stand still, breathe and work on balancing? What is the point? It’s not doing anything for me if I’m not moving!
So, the next time I was at the gym, I told the owner . . . “yeah, I don’t think yoga is my thing.” So I continued to practice Tae Bo and aerobics every chance I could. I also went to my education classes, worked at the bar where I was on my feet until 3-4 am, student taught 3rd grade, walked for more workouts all the time and all the while never stretched, never sat still and never stopped to breathe. I had also been in a car accident the year before, a bad one. The day after the accident, even though I had bruises and bumps all over the place, a headache from slamming against the wind shield and was out of whack everywhere . . . I worked out the next day to my Jane Fonda aerobics video. Everything hurt, but I thought I could exercise it away. And I wondered why I started to have chronic back pain? This only got worse with my first pregnancy.
So why am I sharing this embarrassing 1st yoga class story with you? Because I get it. I get why people are nervous to start yoga. It’s different than what most of us are used to. We Americans do, do, do, move, move, move. And it’s kinda scary walking into a class when you don’t know what to expect. And you know what else I think my brain couldn’t handle at the time? The stillness, the quiet, finding balance. It’s not easy! I know this! And it’s a work in progress EVERY DAMN DAY! My college self was so not ready for that. But I’m so glad I gave it another try in desperation from pain after my 17 year old was born. And then…I fell in love. I fell in love with everything about it that made me run when I was 19. And now as I approach 41 years old, I thank God every day that I am open to this practice of breathing, balance, focus, relaxation for my body, mind and soul. It is different every day, because my mind and body are in a different place every day. That’s why it’s a practice, not a goal. It conforms around your life. It meets you where you are…TODAY. The back pain, over-all hurts, racing mind…they are still there, but I have tools. Tools I learned through yoga. I gather from the practice what works for me, each day. My pain is less, not gone, but less and I imagine it will always be that way. But at least I know there is hope to feel better…when I come to the mat. I now understand staying through the uncomfortable, instead of running from it. Breathing through it to get to the other side. And I am thankful for that.
I smile when I think back to that college girl. And many times when I’m in a pose, and don’t like being in it for whatever reason…I think we are one in the same, the difference is that now. . . I stay.