I've had quite a few first time yogis in my classes lately. It seems like new people are really getting on the yoga train. And they're inquisitive. There’s a curiosity that comes before people start practicing yoga. I've had people in my building stop me in the elevator, "Hey, I heard you're a yoga teacher. I'm thinking of starting yoga… how do I begin?" I can dutifully recommend classes or teachers, yet at the end of the day, it's like anything. You can try to control the circumstances as much as you want, but ultimately, you just need to take that first step. Just start. And you'll begin where you begin.
Let me tell you the sordid story of my first "real" yoga class. It was a complete shitshow. Seven years ago. Working too much. Working out too little. Living pretty unconsciously. To give you a snapshot of my health at this particular time, I exercised maybe 2 days a week and ate Lean Cuisine every day for lunch. I was living in Atlantic Beach, FL and there was yoga studio in a strip mall that I drove by all the time. Back when I drove.
Anyway, one day after work, I decided to try a class. Not having any clue what I was doing (or that there was a fashion component to the yoga world), I rolled up in legitimate full length sweat pants and a t-shirt. Not sweat-wicking, mind you, but sweat-inducing pants. The kind with fleece on the inside. In my hand was a bottle of Diet Lipton Iced Green Tea. I was chewing gum. In short, I was a total disaster.
I walked into the yoga room and was immediately hit by a curtain of sheer heat and humidity. I assumed that yoga was just yoga and has unknowingly had just signed my ass up for a Bikram yoga class. I looked around to see nymph-like creatures in short shorts doing ridiculous things before the class even started.
I just sort of wedged my lotus flower yoga mat from Marshall's in the back corner and did what I could to keep up. Within minutes, I was drenched with sweat. I had no water, just green tea with aspartame. It was torture.
90 minutes later, I stumbled out of the room in a dehydrated daze and drove to the convenience store to get the largest bottle of water that I could find. I sat in my car and chugged the entire thing. Once I had the strength to drive home, I laid on the couch downstairs (I honestly couldn't even make it upstairs) and realized that despite it all, I felt really good. I remember thinking to myself… "damn, what if I could do that every day?" I would feel incredible.
Was that Bikram class perfect? Did I love the teacher? Was there even music? No. But that bliss that came from that first savasana was strong enough to hook me and get me started on a beautiful yoga journey. That little sneak peek inside myself got me searching for the right yoga class and style for me. Seven years later, on the other side of the fence, as a teacher, I can absolutely relate to you first time yogis when you walk into class looking to find a dark space in the corner to hide out. I know you because I am you. And maybe you dig my class, maybe you don't. I don't mind either way - I'm just so happy for you that you're taking the first step and showing up. Begin where you begin.