I did yoga for the first time — trying to get better at taking care of myself — and it was a trippy experience.
I haven’t always handled stress in the best way. As I get older, my body (and mind) need more intentional methods of self-care. Like yoga.
I’ve always wanted to be a yoga person. They just seem so happy eating a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries before donning their Fit Atelier tank top to do yoga at the Mint with a bkr full of alkaline water.
My problems were three-fold: (1) I’m not flexible; (2) I’m not coordinated; (3) I’m not sure I totally believe in all this mindfulness mumbo jumbo.
But 2019 is all about doing things I want, no matter how much they scare me, so I tried yoga for the first time last week. And I sort of had an out-of-body experience.
Let me start from the beginning.
I started by using Work for Your Beer to find a class linked to a brewery. I’m a simple Charlottean: give me a free beer and I’ll do just about anything. I chose Divine Barrel because they’re a little smaller, and I figured if I was going to embarrass myself it’d be in front of less people.
With my mat under my arm, I rolled into the brew house ready to get my stretch on.
The first thing I learned was yoga is really hard.
I mean, I figured it would be kind of hard, but it was really hard. The instructions came faster than I could keep up sometimes.
“Stretch your left leg to the inside of your left hand, and cross your right leg over your left leg, and lift your right arm over your right shoulder, and don’t forget to inhale and exhale as you move from move to move!”
What? I still form L’s with my fingers to remember my left from my right. Moving that fast is not an option.
I found myself silently cursing every time the instructor Erica called for another Downward Dog.
Twenty minutes in and my arms, abs and thighs were all sore. But my neck was the sorest of all. I realized as I was laying back in a stretch that the reason my neck was sore was because I was looking around the room to make sure I was doing all the moves right.
My neck finally gave out and fell into the position. Suddenly, for the first time in the session, a feeling of relief and calmness washed over me. I decided to lean into that. Move after move, I began putting less focus on doing the move perfectly and more focus on doing the move comfortably.
And that’s when things got fun.
Yoga felt best when I stopped focusing on whether or not I did the move perfectly.
I got in my groove, replacing my self-consciousness with enthusiasm through poses like Warrior III and Happy Baby. I even attempted a handstand during the Crane.
Despite the few beads of sweat dripping down my forehead, and mounting anxiety about how long I’d been away from my phone, I pushed myself through the remainder of the exercise.
At the end, we went into Savasana. It’s a “corpse pose” where you lie on your back with your palms up.
That’s when things got weird.
I’ve been reading in some hoity toity self-help books that all people and objects have vibrations. Frankly, I thought it was all bull.
But as I laid in Savasana, my anxiety trying to force me to think about my upcoming move, my bills, friends I miss and relationships I’ve lost, I looked up at the light fixtures and realized I could see them vibrate.
I looked past the fixtures to the ceiling. It was vibrating as well. I strained to look deeper.
Slowly, the details in the texture of the wood began to look like stars and waves and stars reflected on waves. I could hear seagulls, the chatter of children playing, and the tapping of shoes on cobblestone streets.
It reminded me of the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, so I guessed I was seeing an 18th century English seaside town.
When Erica came by and touched my shoulders, I almost asked her about it.
“Is it normal to have an out-of-body experience during yoga?”
Then it was over. The music stopped, we rolled into a seated position, and Erica said, “The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.”
And also Namaste with you.
I didn’t leave my mat for several minutes. It felt wrong to disturb the moment.
Finally, I got up, thanked Erica, and then struck up a conversation with some others from the class. We all grabbed dinner at Billy Jack’s Shack down the road. The experience felt wholesome and bizarre, like one of those made up stories you’d read in “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”
Maybe everything really does come down to vibrations. I’m still not 100 percent convinced. But putting myself in position to have an encounter with the universe paid big dividends this time.
Anyone up for yoga next Monday?