My first yoga class made me angry.
Updated: Jan 5, 2021
My first yoga class made me angry.
I'm talking clenched-fists, ready-to-scream, pure-frustration angry.
I was twenty-something, trying to manage the stress of teaching high-school English literature. 60+ hour work weeks, worrying about 100+ students, planning lessons, and grading papers had me in a constant frenzy.
Yoga seemed like the logical antidote.
I rolled into class on a random Wednesday night Lululemon-ed from head-to-toe ready to DO. THE. YOGA.
I rolled out a mat and scanned the room. Chatting was clearly off-limits, so I sat and grabbed my phone, adding items to my to-do list: photocopy tests, input quiz grades, pickup Advil. Next, I noticed the chipped nail-polish on my toes. Picking at it, I mentally scheduling time to fix it. Feeling stray hairs on the nape of my neck, I meticulously re-did my ponytail. My legs were restless, so I hugged my knees in close, rocking back and forth, impatient to start.
As the instructor entered the room, she adjusted the lights and glided over to her mat. She sat cross-legged, brought her hands to heart's centre, and closed her eyes. I assumed the same position. I was ready to yoga-the-crap out of this class!
And, we sat. And, we sat some more.
I peeked my eyes open, thinking I'd missed something. I wanted to shout, “Ummmm, it is 6:03! Can we get this show on the road? I have essays to correct! Grades to enter! Groceries to do!”
But, we sat some more.
Somewhere around 6:07, the instructor greeted us. “Finally!” I thought. She asked us to stand. I sprung up, ready to nail my first yoga pose ever!
“Stand tall. Breathe. Meet stillness.”
My mind screamed, “Still?! You want me to be still?! I did not pay $20 for someone to tell me to stand in the middle of a room! I have shit to do!”
If not for fear of making a scene, I probably would have high-tailed out of the studio, demanded a refund, and trekked off to conquer my endless to-do list. But, social decorum had me trapped.
I'd like to tell you I had a breakthrough that day but I didn't. I remained tense most of the class, feeling awkward, angry, and anxious.
It made me hella uncomfortable. (It still kinda makes me hella uncomfortable but more on that later.)
I honestly can't tell you why I kept going back. It wasn't all at once--a class here, a class there. I avoided the yoga-studio-scene, intimidated by the svelte, athlete types, always feeling more at ease at a local rec centre. A friend's mom completed her teacher certification, so I sign-up for her weekly class to be supportive. It snowballed from there.
12 years later, I am a 200 HR certified-yoga teacher. I'm as shocked as you are.
Looking back, I now see my discomfort in yoga class as a general discomfort with myself. Tuning in and slowing down wasn't something I knew how to do. It also wasn't something I thought I really deserved. I operated within a please-perform-perfect-prove state of existence.
It's taken a long-time to stop being in constant motion, finding my worth in productivity and external praise. And while the whole world came to a halt last year (#2020), our culture is still dominated by a mentality of produce, push, and perform.
Yoga, for me, is an act of rebellion. Daring to rest, to tune-in, to get into my body/mind/heart space feels wonderfully subversive in a culture that seems to constantly demand more of me.
I hope, over the while, you'll join me in restfully rebelling in your own way.