December 12, 2013

Move In & Not Away: Perspective from a Yoga Newbie. ~ Kayla Dyches

I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t hesitation walking into my first yoga class just a few months ago.

My previous experience with the “yoga types” wasn’t positive. Most of the yoga practitioners in the community I moved away from over a year ago expressed a cult-like involvement with their practice and the studios they swore allegiance. There was also the conversation I had with a close friend where they divulged their yoga teacher insisted that after 90 days of yoga practice at that particular studio, my friend would no longer need to take their anti-depressants. I was horrified anyone besides her doctor would be so bold as to direct someone to discard their medication.

I was beginning to see yoga as snake oil.

I’m an active person. I did gymnastics for years, played soccer, mountain biked, started running daily in 2005 after the birth of my daughter, got involved with circus arts in 2007 which led to weight lifting and to becoming a personal trainer.

It’s safe to say that I like to move.

The extent of my yoga experience was seeing photos of arm balances and trying them out successfully (thank you, hand balancing). However, I never took an interest in yoga until I moved to the northeast and began teaching aerial silks to Demetra Szatkowski.

I knew she was a yoga instructor, but Demetra didn’t seem anything like the people I had met previously.

She’s what I like to call an old soul; humble and positive. Occasionally, during aerial classes, she’d bust out an arm balance and I’d follow suit for the fun of it. I’d been teaching her aerial work for almost a year when she mentioned that she had classes on the schedule at Balance Yoga. Another aerial student I had taught worked there too so I started thinking, “Maybe? As long as they don’t offer me punch…”

I thought I’d be bored, that we’d have to express our feelings, or chant. The horror.

Arriving at studio early, I brought my $3 yoga mat from Five and Below and balked at the $80+ mats for sale by the front desk. Tight fisted? You bet your asana I am.

The studio was dark and warm, but not “heated;” a comfy 78 degrees. My experience with exercise environments is loud and bright; a weird variety of dance mixes, metal, and fluorescent lighting. It was unusually pleasant, although I felt like my body was prepping for nap-mode.

An hour and fifteen minutes of poses that I honestly can’t remember the names of, perhaps I fell out of eagle, I worked planks like a boss (note: more humble next time) and learned cheap yoga mats are cheap for a reason. Somewhere in there, I found a quiet place in my head. It’s uncomfortable for me to verbalize, because opening my inner thoughts to the outside perspective is not my idea of a good time.

I saw snow; heavy snow falling at night. No idea what that means, but I was peaceful in the thought and slowly came back to the present well-stretched and energized the way I would feel after a three mile run.

I went back a second time, bringing my husband, Jeremey, and meeting up with another friend, Susan, from aerial classes. I met other practitioners that didn’t seem to want to sell me their new-age oven mitts or chakra level-up elixirs. Aside from barely controlling the laughter from watching Jeremey fall over (several times), it was another class under my belt and a reason to return again.

I can attribute the prior experiences with yoga folk to a few bad apples.

While I won’t be giving up my free weights and corde lisse (aerial rope), I think I can add yoga to the long list of loves that make me move in and not away.

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Assistant Editor: Alicia Wozniak / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: elephant journal media archives

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Kayla Dyches