Why yoga classes? If I recommend some activity for my clients, I want to have had some direct experience of that activity. Otherwise, it seems phony to not have “walked my talk.” Having heard many clients complain about their yoga instructors, I wanted to see how class with this instructor would feel to one of my clients.
Julie is a yoga instructor I met at a psychiatrist’s open house held to market the practice as an ‘integrative approach’ to the whole person. As I unrolled my yoga mat at the first class, I noted that I was the oldest, and the only male in the class.
Julie greeted us, dressed in a yoga ‘uniform’, conservative, all black, form fitting attire worn by instructors in the yoga videos I had already watched and tried to imitate in the privacy of my TV room. Unlike the DVD presentations, her background music from an iPod docking station, created a soft, gentle atmosphere.
Sitting on a mat, on a hardwood floor, with bare feet, felt harder than the soft carpeting of the TV room, but afforded a secure footing for standing poses. The stretching was tedious at times, trying to pretzel my body into a pose that began to resemble what the instructor was showing and describing in her soft voice.
Near the end of the first class, I felt myself drifting off to lucid dream sleep; my mind wanting to go to dreamland, not the reality of the world around me.
Each succeeding class went better, as I learned from Julie to only take the stretches as far as my body would comfortably move. That was helpful.
Each succeeding class left me with a better frame of mind, more relaxed and feeling refreshed, but gave me a difficulty in making the mental shift to task orientation as I returned to my office for the remaining two hours left in the workday.
By the fourth class, I found myself in such an altered state upon leaving the class. Seeing the world with visual clarity, heightened sensory awareness, and feeling like walking was a gliding process….a ‘high’ of sorts.
By the fifth class, which included ‘chair work’, I had become accustomed to that endpoint in the stretch that I could hold with just the right amount of tension that could be sustained for the two minutes of a pose.
The classes ended, with Julie taking a break for the holidays.
Now, I know the how the experience of yoga, much like meditation classes, when done on a regular basis, following an instructors lead, leads to that altered, intuitive state, one more pathway to that state in which one makes better choices with less fear and anxiety.
A state in which one feels more connected to others, and lives with a sense of awe, gratitude and wonder at what the universe brings to us in our ordinary daily experienced day.