Five Things I’ve Learned Since Starting Yoga

So, I managed to make it to the ripe, old age of 51 without going to a single yoga class. Yes, I tried a few YouTube videos out at home for size, but never did I roll up a mat, throw on some Lululemon, and actually go to a live class.

Until a few weeks ago.

I’d like to say that it was my uber-yogi girlfriends who inspired me to finally get my namaste on in a group setting, but that would be a lie. Despite their encouragement and positive vibes over the years (yes, YEARS), they remained unsuccessful in persuading me to try what the rest of the universe has been wise to for decades.

yoga-class
Where you’d never find me…until recently.

I’d also like to say that my own enlightenment finally caused me to finally go to a class, but it wasn’t that either.

It was a guy.

A single, age-appropriate, American kitesurfer who washed up on my local beach over the holidays. Not. Even. Kidding.

It seems that all it took to end my self-imposed yoga ban (because I was afraid I’d look stupid), was a cute guy inviting me to join him for an early morning, oceanfront class.

Now before you start speculating (I would totally be jumping to conclusions), it was a purely platonic thing. He turned out to be the brother this only-child wishes she had.

But how I ended up in class is not all that important.

What really matters is that I discovered I like yoga. Perhaps it was the lilting Italian accent of the yoga instructor. Or maybe the sound of waves crashing on the shore as I tried to follow along. Or maybe it was simply giving myself permission to spend an hour with my phone turned off. All I know is that I liked the first class so much, I went back the following Saturday on my own (sadly, Mr. Kitesurfer returned to the States). I enjoyed the second class as much as the first.

In fact, I’m digging this yoga thing so much, I plan to keep going. Who saw THAT coming? I even bought a pretty yoga mat. Because, honestly, who wants to sweat on a communal, class-provided one? Ewwww.

And now that I’m a seasoned yogi (after two whole classes!), I’ve made some observations.

#1 – Gravity is unkind.

Let’s get the most shocking observation out of the way first. My body is simply not what it used to be. When doing Downward Dog, my thighs transform into those of an unrecognizable 90-year-old woman. Despite my legs looking fairly OK (at least for someone of my middle-age status) in normal upright positions, no such luck once I’m upside-down. Suddenly my previously normalish-looking thighs transform into a mass of baggy-ass, wrinkled skin that dangles unappealingly from my femurs, the only thing stopping them from sliding straight to the floor seeming to be my equally wrinkly knees. I look like something more at home in a David Attenborough wildlife documentary. Takeaway? Forget my favorite Lucy workout shorts, capri length (or longer) leggings will be worn to all future yoga classes.

elephant-legs
My legs or an elephant? Hard to tell during certain yoga poses.

#2 – Yoga is hard.

Ok, possibly everyone already knows this. But can you blame me for thinking this activity was primarily an excuse for 20-something yoga girls to flood Instagram with handstand and arabesque-type poses at sunset, all while sporting the perfect ponytail and skimpy yoga outfits? Without breaking a sweat. How hard could it really be? Well, as it turns out, much harder than I initially believed. Some of these moves are tough. Ok, obviously not shavasana (my current fave for obvious reasons), but some of the other ones. Breaking out into a sweat was not necessarily something I was prepared for, especially on my “non-date” with McDreamy. Takeaway? Always bring a towel to class.

#3 – Location matters.

An open-air, second-story, oceanfront classroom, complete with the Caribbean Sea spread out before you and balmy breezes rustling the nearby palm trees? Sounds like perfection, doesn’t it? Yes, and it is. At least until the bacon starts frying in the resort restaurant one floor below you. Seriously. Bacon, bacon, and more bacon. Since I observe a low carb lifestyle (and decided years ago that vegetarianism is not my thing), bacon is life to me. Understanding this, I ask you… Have you ever tried to calm your mind with the scent of frying pork reminding you that you skipped breakfast? Impossible. Takeaway? Choose your classroom location carefully.

#4 – Location matters, part 2.

Endless Caribbean Sea views seem like the perfect complement to yoga. Except when attempting to do Tree Pose. I quickly discovered that it is best not to focus on the swaying masts of nearby sailboats in an attempt to stabilize your core and remain upright on one leg. Sure it might work out for the first few seconds, but soon you’ll find yourself swaying in union with said sailboat. Eventually you will have to put both feet on the floor and start over. Since I’m fairly competitive (yes, I know yoga is not a competitive sport, but I am who I am), I don’t want to look like a flimsy willow when executing this pose. Rather, I want my Tree Pose to make me look like a damn Oak – stately, stoic and, most importantly, non-moving. Takeaway? Choose your “faraway focal point” carefully.

yoga-girls
My badass yogi friends, Chrissann & Mariah, who happen to be hosting a yoga/writing/wellness retreat in The Bahamas this May. Learn more about this amazing opportunity here.

#5 Yoga is a great workout.

I probably should have figured this out sooner. But in my defense, please refer back to #2 and all those skinny IG yoga girls who framed my decidedly limited yoga experience. Of course, all I had to do is take a look at some of my badass yoga instructor friends who can do crazy poses that defy belief (and gravity) to grasp the concept that this is one activity that can really whip you into shape. Of course, I’m a slow learner, so what it actually took was my lovely Italian instructor asking us to do several minutes of pendulum movements to realize that my core is the real winner here. All I can say is WOW. Takeaway? Don’t judge a book by its Instagram cover.

So there you have it. The wisdom I’ve acquired from attending two whole yoga classes. I’ve since been told that there are, indeed, many varieties of yoga classes to choose from. Yin, Vinyasa Flow, Hot (probably not a big hit in the tropics), Bikram, Hatha…the list goes on. I guess this means I’ll have plenty of new experiences coming my way in 2019.

Gotta say, I’m feeling centered AF at the moment.


Got questions? Comments? Want to know more about island life? Thinking about making a big life change? I’d love to hear from you.

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