So I went to my first yoga class today (this was a “yoga flow” class taught for free to help fund donations for a local library). As a newbie to the fitness world I know that class based activities are very popular and yoga, zumba, spinning classes are those types of things that I see happen but generally have no interest in. Of course ladies are more interested because it appeals to a feminine nature. However as I’ve worked out, I’ve noticed I have a weakness in my routine – stretching. I do not really do good stretching, nor do I do hardly any breathing exercises and in general my day and week is high stress.
Yoga pairs out to fix a lot of those things by offering a time to sit down and just do relaxing stretching and controlled breathing. I think these things offer a lot of health benefits. However the crux of yoga is just as you’d figure, it’s contrived. It’s made out to be more than it is because it has a background in spiritualism and meditation. Meditation is a good thing for a person to do don’t get me wrong, but I don’t believe it has a spiritual purpose. A lot of the aesthetics of yoga are just that… aesthetics. Like I don’t need to know if I’m doing the fire shakra warrior pose, nor do I want to make a silly shape with my hand, I just want to know where my feet and hands are supposed to go to get the stretch and relaxation.
That said, I don’t write off new experiences for little flaws like that, and I need the stretching in my life. Even the relaxing moments I need that too. So off to yoga class it was. First thing I noticed was I really didn’t want to participate in the class really after I got the mat unrolled and laid down for the first time… I really kind of wanted to go to sleep. That said, I got up and went through a series of gestures. One thing I didn’t like about it first off was the gestures had contrived names like they were powerful spiritual poses. I kind of wish they had more technical names. Again though, aesthetics are not important.
I did feel like a good number of the exercises were very vital in that they stretched out areas I consider real key to my personal routines. I have an old hamstring injury that never healed up, and a few stretches really worked that in. Also my lower back, which was a little sore and strained from the deadlifting these last couple weeks, got a very nice stretch from one of the exercises we did repeatedly. Several of the exercises focused on opening up my hips, which is VERY important for squatting. I really went gung ho in these exercises and felt like it really was very nice.
The other main element of the class was breathing. Everything was paced to be done at breathing intervals and we had a few breathing exercises. I really felt it was great to pace and control myself in this way. Breathing is an often neglected aspect of fitness but controlling it has a big impact in performance. I’m not sure if the breathing exercises really helped in any real way, but I felt like they were the right focus and it really complimented the stretches and helped me really feel relaxed. So I really enjoyed that element of it.
So all in all 4 out of 5 was my experience. It was functionally sound stretching (I’m convinced the stretches will help not just my squats but also my deadlifts and my legs in general), fun breathing and relaxing. It was a little unnecessary on the pomp and circumstance of the routine names and the unnecessary spiritualism, but that was fine and forgivable. So I had a fun time and will definitely make this a part of my routine (when possible). It was after all, free… can’t complain about the price. However if someone ever invents a stretching class that is focused on weightlifters that has no elements of spiritualism or symbolism in general, I will ditch this for that instead.