The Sceptical Tale of First Time Yogi: A Morning of Vinyasa Flow at The Kali Collective.
Uninvited I burst into my flat mate’s room, panic written on my face.
“HAVE YOU GOT ANY SPORTS WEAR THAT I CAN BORROW!?” She looked at me somewhat surprised and handed me a pair of her saggy old leggings.
“Have you not got anything yourself?” she asked, and now it was my turn to look surprised. Without further saying a word I retracted back to my room, saggy leggings in hand.
I don’t do sports. I don’t like moving my body unless it will get me from A to B, and I certainly don’t like going to classes that involve other people moving their bodies. Besides, I look terrible in lycra. The gym makes me terribly uncomfortable because I feel out of place. I suddenly start worrying about what I’m wearing, if I’m ‘doing it right’, and all kinds of other stuff that doesn’t bother me in real life. Avoiding organised forms of exercise was all fine and well while growing up in the Netherlands, where cycling is the standard form of transport, which meant that I was being accidentally healthy, but things have changed and I now live in the country of fried mars bars and Irn Bru and the only exercise I get is my 3-minute walk to Tesco. Time to get over my sport-phobia.
I have got one friend who is very much into her yoga, which takes up about 70 percent of her conversation, and if it weren’t for her cute Yorkshire way of pronouncing the word (“yooooogah”) I would have never seriously considered coming along to class when she asked me to. I have to admit, I have always viewed yoga with some sort of suspicion, associating it with super trendy girls who manoeuvre their bodies in impossible shapes solely for Instagram. I have also always assumed that I would be too sober for yoga, not being able to fully get into the mind-set of being in the present.
However, one should try everything at least once and that’s how I found myself on a Tuesday morning with a backpack filled with saggy leggings, ready to yoga.
Unfortunately, I got up far too early that morning, went for a long healthy walk and ended up being late…
Not a good start.
Rushing into an already started yoga class, when you have no idea what you’re doing, fiddling with a mat, and trying to copy other people’s positions is not ideal.
I spent the first 7 minutes trying not to feel guilty about interrupting the first bit of the class, rather than focussing on my breathing and being present, which means that my initial scepticism considering this whole yoga plan, was still freely flowing through my body. With every breath, however, I could slowly feel myself relaxing and my scepticism was being extinguished by earnest concentration.
I was very much aware that I knew none of the names for the positions I was moulding myself into and that I was trying my hardest not to fall over, but I was enjoying the combination of feeling my muscles working together to stay upright. It felt as if my body was telling me “don’t worry, girl, I gotcha.” I was also amazed at how much I was capable of doing. For someone who never, ever stretches, or hasn’t done a push up since 2009, my body was actually easily folded into all sorts of curves. It might just have been an easy yoga session, but I like telling myself that it was near Olympics level. I was even more chuffed when my friend later told me that she was impressed with my level of yoga-ness. I did a modest/surprised “oh, really?” while internally I was high fiving myself to the Rocky soundtrack.
When the end of the class neared and the teacher, Steph Wall, was telling us how important it was for us to love our bodies, I couldn’t agree more. I felt like patting any part of my exposed flesh, like you would with a friendly dog, and say “well done.” I was proud of my body! And of myself, for going along.
I didn’t come away feeling like an experienced yoga queen, but I did realise that my body is capable of far more things than I originally thought it was, and that exercising isn’t always doom and gloom. The realisation that there are other ways of staying healthy in an environment where nobody cares about your saggy leggings is a valuable lesson I learned that Tuesday morning.
I ended up leaving the class feeling like I just experienced an amazing massage, one for my body and one for my brain. I’ll be back.