Student to Student: Just Keep Coming Back to the Mat!

Written by Sunstone student John Beatty

seated spine twistStreams of sweat run off my nose as I move into a Balancing Stick yoga pose, my body looking vaguely like a capital “T” from the side.  When I tip forward standing on one leg with my arms above me and the other leg tipping up behind, it’s as if I’m a tea kettle and I am pouring a cup of hot water off my nose.   You see, I am exercising in a 98.6oF room with 60% humidity, and I can produce copious amounts of sweat.  It is January and new faces crowd the room, ready with their New Year’s resolutions to get healthy, and it is clear that the newbies are struggling in the heat.  How can I tell them that I was one of them some years ago, overweight, out-of-shape, and unable to make it through a class?

My wife and I joined yoga almost 5 years ago to do something together as a couple.  Believe me when I say that I had no idea what yoga was.  No idea.  I thought that we were about to sit in a room, cross our legs, and chant.  I was so wrong about so many things.  Didn’t know that it would be hot and humid in the room.  Didn’t know that my heart rate would skyrocket.  Didn’t know how to breathe… and so on.    The lithe young female instructor looked me up and down, and said, “Your goal for the class is to just stay in the room.”  No kidding, just stay in the room.  Then she looked at me again and followed up with, “When you don’t feel well, lay down on the mat.”  I do not recall her looking at my wife at all when she issued these suggestions.  And words of wisdom these turned out to be, as I felt dizzy and nauseous not halfway through class and had to lie down on the mat.  How do I tell the New-Year’s-resolution-in-hand new yogis in the class that it took dozens of classes before I did not feel nauseous, and dozens more to feel like I knew what I was doing?

SavasanaSeeing the room littered with new students lying in the appropriately named “corpse” pose in the middle of class is no surprise to me.  It happens each January, like clockwork.  I imagine that this happens yearly in every type of exercise room.  And I know that if I would show up at a spin class, or at one of the cross-fit sessions that my son has invited me to, that I would be the newbie: struggling to figure out what to do, struggling to keep down lunch, struggling to stay conscious.  It is just the way it is when you begin a training regimen.  And unfortunately it is that way even when you have been training for years, for every now and then the body just doesn’t cooperate.  It happened to me several weeks ago when I started to feel dizzy and nauseous in a class.  Except now I know that it happens from time to time, and I know that I will not feel like that regularly, and most importantly I do not allow it to keep me from showing up again the next day.  How do I tell those new students that the dizziness still sometimes comes over me, even after hundreds of classes?

My wish for those new folks in the room is to stick with it, to keep the room crowded with energy, to make it a regular part of their life.  I empathize with them, I feel for them, I am them.  What has all this hot yoga done for me?  Queue all the cliché’s: lost weight, toned muscles, improved endurance, sleep better, feel better, etc, etc.  It’s all true.  But also for me the incredible amount of core strengthening and balance work has made my lower back problems disappear.  Previous to my yoga practice I had many steroid injections into my back after damaging the discs.  Not anymore.  My strong core has helped my weak back.  And I have been able to exercise with not only my wife, but also my 20-something children, which is super-fun.  How can I tell all this to the new yogis in the room?

child's poseJust stay in the room, and keep coming back. 

(note: It’s great advice. John has taken over 750 classes with us since his first in May of 2011!)

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