Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ashtanga? Geseundheit.

It wasn't a New Year's resolution (I don't do those, it just leads to sadness) but I did attend my first ever yoga class this weekend. I'm tired of being in kind of awful shape, and my friends who do yoga seem to like it. I've always been leery of it, as I've got no interest in the spiritual aspects of yoga at all; I've got a spiritual system that works very well for me, and while there's certainly nothing wrong with the philosophies behind yoga, it just doesn't really jive with my personality. But my friend the expert informed me that ashtanga yoga does not have to have a spiritual component to it--there's no chanting or meditating, just a very intense athletic workout over a series of stretches. So I figured, what the hell Archie, wotthehell? and set off for a Saturday morning class.

The most surprising thing for me was that it was a lot easier than I expected. By easier, I don't mean that it wasn't a serious workout--I am mighty sore today--but I was anticipating that there would be some positions I just Could Not Do, Period. And that was not the case at all. There were plenty of stretches where my limited flexibility prevented my going "all the way," but nothing where I couldn't get at least a semblance of close. A lot of the stretches reminded me of the warmups we'd do before fencing practice in college--same essential position and movements, but the stretches are held instead of doing 10 quick repetitions of the movement and going on to something else. The hardest part for me were the balancing positions--my problem sinuses mean that my balance even under ideal conditions is rather poor--but I didn't actually fall over or crash into the person next to me, so I call that a success. I'll probably go at least a few more times to decide if I want to make a regular practice of it. Assuming that my hamstrings return to normal over the course of the week, that is.

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