Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Truth About Yoga...

Yesterday started out much like any other day - until I remembered that it was yoga day! Yay! I was so excited, full of unrealistically high expectations. Maybe I'll make a new friend! Maybe my new friend will speak English! (Yes, I'm getting a little desperate...) It'll feel great to get back into yoga! This could be "my thing" while we're here... You get the drift.

I'm sure that taking a yoga class in Italy sounds kind of glamorous, exotic and completely awesome. I was hoping for all of the above. What I actually experienced was a bit off of my expectations. :) Kind of a let-down, and a little weird... The class was an hour and a half long. So when I signed up, I was initially nervous that A) I'd look like an idiot because it's been awhile since I've taken regular yoga classes.   And/Or   B) I'd wind up hurting myself.

The entire time, I found myself thinking, "Keep an open mind! This isn't too bad!" I've learned that when you have to repetitively tell yourself that something "isn't bad." It probably is. I'm usually a glass-half-full kind of person, but this was one of those experiences where I just have to call a spade a spade. Beneath all of my unrealistic expectations, my most basic desire was for a good workout... and the toughest movement we made was raising our arms above the head and leaning side-to-side, seven times. Yep, that's it! In defense of Luigi, my yoga instructor, the first course was free - he wanted to make sure I tried it out before paying the hefty fee. And it's entirely possible that I misunderstood his brochure. The class was definitely more focused on relaxation, visualization exercises and breathing than anything else. I was one of three students. The other two were older women, neither had ever tried yoga before. One was a larger woman with an injured knee and her doctor had recommend some physical exercises (assuming I understood her correctly, judging by her gestures and the few Italian words I could decipher when she introduced herself). I'd imagine her doctor wanted her to actually challenge herself a tad. This yoga class is not going to strengthen her knee one bit. Here are some of my favorite moments from class...

For about twenty minutes, Luigi asked us to visualize ourselves sitting in a favorite chair, staring at a computer or TV screen with images flashing through our minds. (He was kind enough to translate bits and pieces of each exercise for me.) Then he began to list body parts. Right this, left that... For a LONG time. The best part for me? Practice with the Italian language - learning which body parts are masculine and feminine, based on sinistro (left masculine) or sinistra (left feminine)  and destro (right masculine) or destra (right feminine). :) I know this exercise was about visualization and relaxation and connecting with your body. I tried. I really did. It just wasn't working for me...

Another favorite moment was the very end of class. Luigi had us quickly rub out hands together and then cup them over our eyes (but not touching our face) to feel the warmth over our eyelids... We did this several times, and it was the one time during class when I had to resist the urge to giggle. Don't worry. I didn't actually laugh - I know that would have been awful! Anybody out there in blog-land know something I don't about yoga? (Maybe European yoga versus American? Or something?) Feel free to comment and educate me! I have gone to enough classes to know that this wasn't the yoga I'm familiar with....

So I'm probably not going to return to another Italian yoga class, but I did get a flier in the mail for Pilates.

... to be continued. :)