Yoga is Also My Friend

Class: Yoga Experiential Retreat

Yoga is a friend of a friend, but I’ve been shirking its invitation to a healthier mental and physical self. I love the idea of practicing yoga; I just don’t do it. Or at least I haven’t since I was eight and mimicked copied the yoga I watched on PBS. Back then, people usually wore leotards.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Yoga Retreat that I attended last Saturday through Lifelong Learning. Maybe some lovely mountain views, the possibility of regaining some bendiness, and a kick start?

The onset of “spring” brought snowy winter conditions to Snowbird that day and I arrived at the Cliff Spa yoga studio a bit flustered, wet, and late. I will assume that that is not good yoga etiquette; however, our instructor, Mary, offered a welcoming smile, and I rolled out my (fresh-from-its-package) yoga mat to share a few moments of quiet with everyone. My fellow retreaters had obvious experience at sitting and being still. Yes, they knew how to sit*, and I didn’t. I’m serious.

That brief quiet time at the beginning of class was precious because it helped me to escape my slight anxiety about not knowing what I was doing. Instead, I decided to embrace the joy and liberation of being a beginner. No note-taking–just listening, watching, and emulating.

I’m sure some of you have lots of yoga experience, so you’re going to have to help me out with the traditional names of the poses. I remember them as the one that cleared my sinuses, the one that made me wobble, the one that released a week of tension, the one that confused me (see last paragraph), and the ones that kicked my butt. I didn’t know at the time that they were kicking my butt, but the next day I felt the residual effects of having woken up some sleeping muscles.

That probably makes me sound like an uncoordinated fool in the studio, but I actually feel like I got the hang of it. I watched attentively as we were shown each pose and Mary helped us with pose refinements and tips throughout the day. My big take-aways? Breathe intentionally, spread my feet into the ground for balance, and keep track of all body parts to get the pose correct. (Concentrating on this is ultimately what relaxed my brain too.)

This retreat was an excellent kick start to some mind-body focus and a return to being limber. I’ll be continuing with more yoga classes this month. Fortunately I now know what is happening when everyone stretches out and gets comfy on their mats at the end of class: “the one that confused me” is called Savasana and it is a resting pose.

*How to Sit
Sitting comfortably on the floor is deceptively simple. Place a folded towel or blanket on the floor. Sit on it cross-legged with your feet tucked in (lotus). Now scoot your tail bone to the edge of the blanket and let your legs angle downward. This puts your hips higher than your knees and lets you sit up straight more easily. I don’t know why I have just now learned how to sit, but I plan to use this knowledge every day for the rest of my life.