I'll admit it, I'm easily intimidated which is why I've always had trouble with group exercise classes in the past. Since the start of the year, I've attempted four different yoga classes with four different instructors at three different places. While every yoga teacher should tell you that yoga isn't a competition, I've been in plenty of classes with insanely fit people whose flexibility almost seems like something a circus contortionist could do. In my confusion about where my hands should go or if I'm doing something right or wrong, I look around and when I've been in classes where I'm clearly the least experienced, I'm instantly intimidated.
When the new class schedule came out this past month, I figured that I'd give yoga one last good try before finally giving up. I chose a Monday night "Hot Yoga" class with Kraig and thought that if nothing else, it would be pure comedy since I was likely going to be the least experienced person in the room.
The first thing I noticed when I got to the room was that people were chatting with each other. I asked one of the people in the room if they've taken this class before and she raved and raved and RAVED about the instructor. I've found that people seem to be very loyal to instructors that they like so this wasn't too surprising but when Kraig did arrive, almost everyone in the room seemed to know him. He chatted with people and told the room what the class was about, to take each position in a way that was best for them. Again, typical instructor talk.
But when the class started, I found that it wasn't the kind of class where there are "stand outs". Some people were super fit, some were not. Some were incredibly flexible and advanced and some were like me who were just working through each position and not pushing past our own abilities. After each segment, he complimented us on knowing our body's collective limitations and doing very well. For the first time in years, I felt like I was succeeding in a yoga class. By the end, I wasn't looking around, trying to compare myself to anyone and it felt great. I was relaxing, I was stretching, I was sweating like a crazy person in a room heated to 100 degrees but I was loving it!
I've been back to that class as well as Kraig's other class on Saturday afternoon at LSAC and had a chance to speak to him. Turned out that he struggled with many of the same issues I had until he found an instructor who made him feel comfortable enough to focus solely on the practice, on what he was capable of on that day. Some days are harder than others, he told me, but you have to respect where your body is at that time and listen to it.
Possibly some of the best advice I've gotten in a long, long while. Even when you don't feel like you're at 100%, listen to your body, work around it or simply give yourself a rest. You're in this for the long haul! You're on the right track and even on your worst day, you're still heading in the right direction!