My First Yoga

I had nothing against yoga, at least now that people don’t talk about it as sanctimoniously as they used to. I just felt like I missed the opportunity to try it. I could probably join any beginner’s class at the gym, but I was intimidated by the possibility of strange etiquette, and I figured I’d be the only true novice, given that the current yoga craze has been going on for, what, ten years?

pretzel-photo-illo-2-by-tribeca-citizenMy partner, Adam, however, has been convinced that yoga would help his decreasing flexibility, so when I saw that Body & Mind Builders has an Intro to Yoga deal—three Sunday sessions for $50—I passed the info along. He doesn’t like to take chances, so he called to make sure the room wouldn’t be overheated and there wouldn’t be too much spiritual mumbo-jumbo. Playing it safe, he signed up for a single Slow/Basic Yoga session ($18) instead. Then he signed me up as moral support.

When attempting yoga years ago, Adam was so competitive about it that he pulled every muscle in his body—so he was relieved that only two other participants enrolled for our class. One had zero yoga experience and the other only started a few days ago.

Our instructor, Jennilyn, was as mellow-voiced as I might have expected, but she had an obvious intelligence that made me pay attention. She led us through a series of poses, incorporating various pieces of equipment (blocks, blankets, strap, cushion) to make them easier to achieve. The four poses I remember are cat, downward dog, baby cobra, and—one I showed a particular aptitude for—a meditative cool-down called corpse. (Adam disputes that a restless person such as myself could have excelled at corpse, but the only way he would know is if he were being a bad corpse.)

The stretching felt fantastic, and some of the strength-related poses were tough to hold; several times my arms or legs shook like I was detoxing. I was occasionally convinced like I wasn’t doing certain things right—my tailbone didn’t want to move at all, let alone a specific direction—but Jennilyn was helpful, repositioning us and being supportive. The only time I felt like I failed was at the end. After saying, “Namaste,” she had to explain that students traditionally repeat it back.

I didn’t get the alert, energetic high I’m accustomed to from aerobic exercise, but more of a serenity, the way I feel after a massage. So it came as a surprise when, the next day, my shoulder and hips were sore in a good, worked-out way. The next two days, actually. I was walking down West Broadway when my phone rang, and after two minutes of holding it to my ear, I had to end the call because my shoulder muscles were still recovering.

Body & Mind Builders is at 78 Reade St. (Broadway/Church), 212-587-1099, Slow/Basic Yoga is offered Sundays (11:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m.) and Thursdays (4:15–5:30 p.m.); Intro to Yoga is offered Sundays (2 p.m.–4 p.m.). Mat rentals $2.

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