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Yoga Newbie with a few Questions

Reuptake2010-07-04 11:32:00 +0000 #1
Hey everyone,

I've been wanting to get into Yoga for a few years now, but haven't been able to due to a knee issue that's been recently fixed over the summer. I found what appears to be a decent studio, and I'm waiting until their winter sessions begins (six weeks or so) before signing up for classes.

In the meantime I decided to try and teach myself the basics. I bought a mat and beginner's DVD and just had my first experience with it and I had a few observations/questions:

My God, it's HARD! I'm definitely not in the best of shape, though I have no real health issues, and even the basic poses were making me break a sweat. I was having a lot of difficulty keeping my arms raised during applicable poses, and even the kneeling poses took a LOT of work, and I'm sure my form left a lot to be desired.

Let me be specific - I wasn't experiencing pain, but rather it took severe effort to try and maintain even these basic poses.

My question is... is this normal for someone who's out of shape? Is this a situation where I'll experience a lot of difficult and soreness out of the gate, but after awhile it'll become second nature?

Just want to make sure I'm not doing anything dangerous.

Much thanks!

-Re


David2010-07-04 11:42:33 +0000 #2
Greetings!

Welcome to the forums and the world of yoga in general

I remember my first experience of yoga. I used to be a professional athlete who considered himself to be in pretty good shape as he strode into that first level 1 yoga class. After 85 minutes, my body and ego were not very happy. How was it that, "All those women can do that stuff with ease but it kicked my butt?" I wondered. I was exhausted and frustrated. Luckily, instead of quitting, I used that strong feeling to dive deeper into yoga, "to master it" which I now realize is pretty hilarious

Point being, what you experienced is very normal for those who are "in shape" and those who are not. If I had to choose three pieces of advice for you, they would be:

1. Stick with it. Let the practice do its work.

2. Be ok with where you're at. Accept it and connect to the joy of the experience. You will transform as the practice does its work.

3. Stay on your mat. What I mean by that is don't look at others and compare or judge. Have your experience and let them have theirs.

4. I know I said three, but oh well

Others may disagree with me on this, but you mentioned having a hard time holding your arms up. Hold them where they're comfortable so as to not create ADDITIONAL tension in your body and utilize muscles that shouldn't be involved in the movement to compensate.

I hope that helps a little
InnerAthlete2010-07-04 11:47:27 +0000 #3
Hello Reuptake,

You are, of course, doing something dangerous. You are efforting to lay a foundation for a 9,000 year old science using a DVD.

I personally do not believe the basics can be taught through books or videos. However a person can get a feel for movement and breath from them. So a taste of asana can come from that medium but it is not a very sound source for basics since there can be no feedback from that person who is doing the teaching to that person who is doing the learning. But you are intending to go to appropriate classes so.... no big deal as long as you are gentle with yourself in an exploratory rather than performance-oriented frame of mind.

Doing asana can be a catalyst for tremendous growth. Some of that growth is in stabilizing the pelvis, some in opening the hamstrings, while much of it is in expanding the flexibility of one's mind, either tangibly by stimulating the sutures or ethereally by holding contradictory but complementary thoughts.

When you place demand on the muscles of your body to do something they are not used to doing then they respond in a way that aligns with not being used to doing. Therefore it is common (not normal because what good yoga student strives for normalcy?) to fatigue early and often AND likely be sore in the days following.

However I'd like to suggest that yoga should never become second nature. Ever. It is one of the reasons I do not personally rely on the same sequence of poses day in and day out. While that may soothe my sense of routine and belonging, it simply sets a table for the meal of complacency. Complacency is in opposition to exploration. Therefore it does not, to me, represent yoga. More lemmings and added "groupThink" we do not need.

So while you may become more comfortable with the asana practice, more "competent" in the "doing" please do not allow yourself to become so cozy that your practice ceases to stir the cauldron of your consciousness.
Reuptake2010-07-04 12:26:35 +0000 #4
Quote:

Originally Posted by David



Greetings!

Welcome to the forums and the world of yoga in general

I remember my first experience of yoga. I used to be a professional athlete who considered himself to be in pretty good shape as he strode into that first level 1 yoga class. After 85 minutes, my body and ego were not very happy. How was it that, "All those women can do that stuff with ease but it kicked my butt?" I wondered. I was exhausted and frustrated. Luckily, instead of quitting, I used that strong feeling to dive deeper into yoga, "to master it" which I now realize is pretty hilarious

Point being, what you experienced is very normal for those who are "in shape" and those who are not. If I had to choose three pieces of advice for you, they would be:

1. Stick with it. Let the practice do its work.

2. Be ok with where you're at. Accept it and connect to the joy of the experience. You will transform as the practice does its work.

3. Stay on your mat. What I mean by that is don't look at others and compare or judge. Have your experience and let them have theirs.

4. I know I said three, but oh well

Others may disagree with me on this, but you mentioned having a hard time holding your arms up. Hold them where they're comfortable so as to not create ADDITIONAL tension in your body and utilize muscles that shouldn't be involved in the movement to compensate.

I hope that helps a little

That definitely helps a lot. I was fairly confident that I wasn't doing anything horribly wrong, but wanted to be sure that what I was experiencing was normal. Hearing about your experiences is very encouraging.

--------------------------------------------

@InnerAthlete: I'm aware that a DVD is a less than ideal way to learn Yoga, which is why I purchased the most basic of the basics, and plan to take it easy as a kind of learning crutch until the classes at my studio begin a new session.

I think we might be stumbling over some semantics here. By "second nature" I don't mean "so easy that I can think about my weekend plans while performing poses," but instead I mean "It doesn't make me feel like I'm going to collapse afterward."

I also think that I might be approaching this from a different angle than some of the hardcore enthusiasts. I'm not interested in yoga for achieving some groundbreaking spiritual experience that'll place me on the astral plane where the heavens will open up and I'll become the star child.

I'm interested in yoga as a way to help me get into better shape, give me better balance, and reduce stress and anxiety. No more, no less. Anything more is gravy.

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