All Roads Lead to Downward Dog

by julie on June 4, 2011

 

Do NOT wear short shorts to yoga class. You will end up in compromising positions. You will expose your upper-thighs to your neighbor yogis.

I should know this. I’m not a yoga novice.  Yet with all my yoga pants in the dirty laundry bin this morning, I quickly threw on jogging shorts and left for class.   Once in the studio, I confidently rolled out my mat and plopped myself down.

“Let’s begin in Reclining Bound Angle Pose,” the instructor said.

I slyly looked to see what others did.  Many of the basic positions are automatic to me, but not this one. My neighbors laid on their backs and spread their legs in butterfly-position.

Yoga Squat

“Great, I love this pose!” I thought. Yet, as I reclined and opened my legs, I cringed – realizing short shorts was a really bad idea.

As class continued, many positions made short shorts a regrettable choice, including yoga squat, happy baby, and all warrior poses. If I authored “Yoga for Dummies,” Rule #1 would be: Wear Pants.

Nevertheless, I tried to ignore my fashion faux-pas and concentrate on my practice.  Today was Day 4 of Tranquil Space‘s 21 Day Yoga Challenge. Currently, yoga is kicking my butt.

In high-lunge pose, my legs trembled uncontrollably beneath me – not quite strong enough to hold my body’s weight for that “one more breath.”

In downward dog, beads of sweat dropped from my forehead onto the mat. While cradling the baby, my “baby” (a.k.a. lower leg) slipped from my wet grip, falling to the mat with an ungraceful thump!

I’ve spent more time in downward dog these past 4 days than napping, eating or watching tv. My instructor appropriately described today, “All roads lead to downward dog.”

My perception of yoga has shifted. I used to equate yoga with stretching, not realizing how much strengthening is involved.

From the outside, yoga looks prim and proper – like a slow form of ballet.  Elongated bodies in sleek spandex twist and turn in unison. We dive forward, drop to chaturanga, lift to down-dog.

Yet, beneath the skin of measured movements and breathing – bodies are hard at work. Muscles are heated, hamstrings are stretching. For now, I am quivering and clawing towards greater strength and flexibility – the promise of yoga.

Hopefully yoga is like running and will get exponentially easier with time.  Sore and weak, I will hydrate, take extra-strength Advil and get to bed early for tomorrow’s class. Perhaps the best cure for the aches and pains of yoga is more yoga!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott June 5, 2011 at 2:57 am

This post is funny! I've tried yoga before, but never done it two days in a row, let alone 21 days in a row. I'm gonna try it again, thanks for the Inspiration! 🙂

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Gail June 5, 2011 at 10:44 pm

You are my inspiration. Tomorrow morning I swim.
Gail

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Jodi Evans June 11, 2011 at 12:29 am

I am so glad you are posting this blog. i was diagnosed a year and a half ago. I have 20 to 30 episodes without treatment. Now I am at 2-3 per day. I ran a marathon before I was diagnosed, but not since. This was very inspiring.
Like you , I am trying to find positive and funny things in life and this disease. Check out my blog at http://www.keepfallingup.blogspot.com
I would love to talk to you!

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Melissa June 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Thanks for the practical advice! I think your description about yoga looking a slow form of ballet is really lovely. Both are so graceful and look so easy…but tremendous strength is essential to make all those elegant movements possible!

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