I confess: I have never taken a yoga class before. Don’t get me wrong; I was not a complete novice. I had followed along with some yoga DVDs, but I had never experienced the physical and mental benefits of a full-fledged yoga class. So, when I received an invitation to join in on an exclusive yoga class in Austin, Texas, I decided to give it a go.
The class was a flow class at Yoga by Melodie studio in Austin. The class is created for yoga-practitioners of all levels and can be modified to suit your abilities. We started out with some basic breathing routines to help us transition into the right state of mind for the class. After a crazy rush-hour drive to the studio, I definitely needed a mental adjustment before the class began. However, while I was sitting on my purple mat, I was wondering when the real workout would begin. (I mean, come on, people around the world are going crazy for the opportunity to sit in a quiet room and then raving about the health benefits? Give me a break.)
Well, Melodie definitely proved me wrong. After the breathing routines that left me in a more relaxed and focused mood, we moved on to Sun Salutations. I work out on a regular basis and consider myself to be in good shape, but after 30-minutes of Sun Salutations, I was dripping in sweat and longing for the happy few minutes I’d spent earlier, breathing on my mat.
After the Sun Salutations, we transitioned into some modified yoga poses that incorporated using the wall for balance. I have never been a truly balanced person, so having something to lean against was very helpful for me. However, the other participants in the class did not use their walls at all. It was amazing to watch these women bend their arms and legs into positions such as Birds of Paradise, Dancer, and Warrior Three. At one point, I simply went into my own version of Child’s Pose which also allowed me to watch the others.
Finally, after 75-minutes of intense yoga, I was relieved to hear that the session was over and it was time to relax. As I laid on my back, Melodie scented the room with lavender and encouraged us to completely relax. After the strenuous workout I had just put my body through, I was more than happy to oblige.
So what has this beginner learned about yoga?
- First off, don’t knock it until you try it. I have always thought there was no way I could get in a good workout by just holding a few poses and focusing on my breathing. Turns out, I was dead wrong. According to Melodie, yoga is effective and fun because it allows you to switch between truly difficult and effective workouts and slower, easier poses that help you recover.
- Second off, there really are some mental benefits of yoga. What can I say, I was a nay-sayer before my class. Now, I can really vouch for the calming and restorative benefits of yoga. After my first class, I was stress-free and happy. Not a bad side effect to a workout, if you ask me.
If you are interested in learning more about Yoga by Melodie, click here.
by Kelsey Murray
March 21st, 2011