April 18, 2008

Ashtanga, here I come!

Posted in Daily life tagged , at 9:55 pm by Lauren

I finally got up the nerve to go to the yoga studio, and Wednesday, April 9 was my first day of initiation ashtanga yoga classes at Samasthiti Studio in Paris. Hooray! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous because this was my first yoga class ever. (Okay, I am excepting the lame yoga classes I took at Arlington Oaks once – really it was only two classes and did nothing for me.) Not only that, but the classes are in French! I got a nice refresher on my French body parts and learned some fun pose names like chien tete en bas. After the first half hour, I panicked that more time hadn’t passed because I definitely felt like I was getting a work out. How would I be able to hold all the poses through another hour? The next half hour passed in a puddle of sweat. The instructor, Vanessa, was very attentive, coming over to fix my downward dog, give me a strap (I can’t reach my feet), and almost pull my hamstring from its moorings. Okay, what actually happened was she pushed me further into a pose, and my hamstring really wasn’t having it, and I was afraid she was actually going to hurt me. But I survived. And I did appreciate the personal attention.

I felt kind of hardcore for even being able to hold the poses for as long as the others did, even though mine weren’t nearly as stretched out as theirs were. Then at the end we did a few Oms, then a “pseudo-meditation” in a sitting/praying position. Then we laid down in a position I don’t remember the name of (and a woman came to help me get my shoulders under my body – I think now that she was Caroline, the studio owner), and Caroline lead us through a breathing/meditation period while Vanessa came around and pushed on various pressure points on our heads with some scented oil on her hands. I think I might have died and gone to heaven at this point. I was so relaxed that my body forgot that I had just strained myself to the limit for over an hour. Of course, my body remembered fairly quickly after I left the studio. 
The next day I went back for more contortion! Alexandre’s class seemed much harder than Vanessa’s class, and twice I took his advice and went into the child’s pose when I needed to rest. At one point, I literally could not hold my arms in the air for another minute. However, Alexandre was very good at saying, “If you are a complete beginner, do this” and showing different levels of difficulty for achieving the postures. I learned that I absolutely cannot balance on my fesses (butt) and hold my legs up in the air, but fortunately he came over to help, and he held my legs while I held my arms up towards them. Alexandre corrected my postures much more than Vanessa had the day before, but I did feel like the stuff we were doing was somewhat more difficult (or possibly just more difficult for me, depending on my own weaknesses). I was actually glad to see that Wednesday and Thursday’s initiation classes would be different, as it ensures a more well-rounded workout each week. 
This is what I noticed about yoga in my second class. Usually when I work a muscle group really hard, it is not sore until the next day. With yoga it takes about an hour, and then my entire body hurts because I feel like I’ve worked every single muscle in my body. I am completely amazed by the fact that I can feel and distinguish between so many muscles in my body. I worked all those? But, strangely, it feels pretty amazing too. 

My plan is to do classes every Wednesday and Thursday, as well as those Mondays that I’m free, until the end of June. I’m sure there will be a few days that won’t work out (Elizabeth just told me about the “ladies’ vacation”), but there will be others I can add. I paid for 20 classes in advance, so I have guaranteed myself a lot of pain before the end of June. But hopefully, I’ll be able to touch my toes and generally be stronger by then too.


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