Yoga Tahoe: Inside a beginner class through the eyes of a first-timer
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Taking not so discreet glances at those around me, I observe where they are placing their hands and positioning their feet on the mat and try my best to mimic their body form.
I’m in my first yoga class — something I’ve wanted to try for years, but never got around to doing until this Monday.
In the dimly lit, 85-degree heated room at Yoga Studio Tahoe in Truckee, I try to follow the directions of the class instructor, Hanni Schwiesow, the best I can.
“Come back into happy baby, so just let the knees go wide and just rock side to side” she says at one point during the Aprés Ski Flow class I’m in, which is one of the classes recommended for beginners offered at the 10775 Pioneer Trail, Suite 105B studio. “Release the hands. Take the right ankle over the left and then you’re going to take and clasp opposite feet, so the left hand takes the outside of the right foot and the right hand takes the outside of the left. You guys got your feet?
“Take your left knee down, so the left heel goes down almost to the floor. Then you’re going to straighten the right leg out. The left knee goes down toward the floor and then the right leg goes over to the left side. If that’s too much, you can bend your right knee and take the left hand on the right knee.”
I’m a little confused — and mixing up my left and right doesn’t help matters — hence my sneaking frequent peaks at my neighbors.
As I contort my body into the various directed (and observed) poses, I’m reminded a lot of the stretches I had to do at the start of gym class in school.
For instance, extending one leg at a time and touching your toes, holding the position for 10 seconds before repeating with the other leg.
I knew I should have put more of an effort in gym class all those years ago. Today, I pay the cost.
There was one pose I found particularly challenging — that involved clasping your hands behind your back.
Looking at others, I studied their form trying to figure out how they were accomplishing that pose. Was there a trick to it? Was I incorrect in my pose, preventing my hands from being able to reach each other?
It was then, I really wish I had Inspector Gadget’s ability to lengthen my arms so my hands could clasp by uttering the command: “Go, go gadget arms.”
But, alas, that wasn’t an option for me, and so I just extended my arms behind my back as far as I comfortably could before attempting to arrange myself into the next suggested pose.
Throughout the hour-long class, Schwiesow walked among the studio’s roughly 20 students, offering guidance on the positioning of feet and hands. (She stops at me twice.)
Seeing others needing aid in the class with their form and the poses, it makes me feel less insecure about my ability — or rather, lack there of.
The dimly lit room doesn’t hurt matters either.
As the end of the class approaches, I realizing I am sweating.
Luckily, I was provided a non-slip yoga mat at the front desk upon entering the studio, preventing me from slipping when arranging my body and limbs into various poses.
Ironically, setting up the mat was the first challenge I faced in yoga, and the class hadn’t even started yet.
Unrolling the mat I noticed one side was smooth and the other was textured. “What side should face up,” I contemplated.
Should the textured side be in contact with the floor to prevent the mat from sliding during class, or should it face up, providing me traction for when I start sweating? (I was forewarned that I would sweat.)
Hmm, choices. I could not make heads or tails out of it. In the end, feeling a little silly, but drawing upon what I do every day as part of my job, I asked Schwiesow which side of the mat should face up. For all you wondering, it’s the textured side.
The fact that the class had me sweating, I knew I was getting a workout. I just didn’t know how much of one until the next day when I stretched to turn off my alarm in the morning. My abdominal was sore as well as my thighs and upper arms — a sensation that continued throughout the day.
Despite that mild discomfort, I felt good. I woke up in a better mood and less stressed than usual for a deadline day.
A win in my book.
Margaret Moran is a reporter for the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspapers. Visit yogastudiotahoe.com to learn more about Yoga Studio Tahoe and view offered classes, class schedules and pricing.