What I Learned from a Week of Yoga

Going into this week, I was convinced that the whole “yoga” thing was kind of a joke. I’m sorry to all the proclaimed yogis out there, but my pessimistic persona couldn’t believe that sitting on a thin mat with my legs crossed and eyes closed could result in anything other than a waste of time.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

After finding out over Thanksgiving that I’m the only one in my family who doesn’t do yoga, I knew I needed to up my game and join the yoga club. Everyone raved about its calming capabilities and the peacefulness that they felt afterward. Entering one of the most stressful periods of time (finals week), I knew some extra serenity couldn’t hurt.

After searching online for a local yoga studio, I found one with only a 30-minute walk away from my apartment, which really isn’t that bad (plus if I didn’t feel like walking, I could take the T).

Coolidge Corner Yoga is everything I had ever hoped for from a yoga studio.

It’s quiet and peaceful there, with rolled yoga mats everywhere and cross-legged Buddhas painted on the walls. They have this awesome kitchen area where you can brew yourself a cup of tea after class and hang out on one of their couches. After my last couple of classes, I’ve been bringing some light homework with me and the kitchen has proven to be a great place to study.

My first class was called Core Flow, a lesson designed to “strengthen all the muscles in the core”. My core is pretty weak, so this class was intimidating. But, the whole experience itself was intimidating, so I don’t think taking a different class would have made me feel any less nervous.

When I got to the studio I didn’t know what to do. When you first walk upstairs you come to this landing where you’re supposed to leave your shoes and socks. Even though there was signage, I still wasn’t sure of what to do with my belongings. Luckily, an instructor walked in with me and I just introduced myself and explained that this was my first time and she helped me get situated.

After leaving my socks, shoes, and jacket at the landing (yes, you go barefoot in the studio, which grossed me out a little at first) and checking in at the front desk, I walked to the front room where my class was to be held.

Walking into the studio, I couldn’t tell which was the front and which was the back so I picked the first empty spot I saw and unrolled my mat. I then asked the woman next to me what items I needed. She had two yoga blocks, a cylindrical cushion called a bolster, a blanket, and a green strap, and she was kind enough to clue me into what the class required.

When the instructor came in he didn’t set up his own mat in the front, but instead just found a place to stand in-between the mats of two yogis and conducted the class while walking around the room.

Obviously, I didn’t know any of the poses other than your basic Downward Dog and Child’s Pose, but looking around the room, it was easy enough to follow the movements of the other students.

The class itself had a lot more upper body work than I expected. A lot of plank poses and “half-planks” which require you to gently lower yourself halfway to the floor and then hold the position. That was challenging because I also lack upper body strength.

Here is the lovely Laura Ahren (one of my favorite teachers) modeling the half plank pose.

There were definitely moments when I was thinking 'Am I doing this right? This is definitely wrong. God, this instructor must be like ‘what the heck is she doing’ but I was trying really hard to not let these thoughts inhibit the benefits of the class or ruin my experience.

By the end of the hour, my arms felt like jelly but even with my nerves and self-consciousness throughout the lesson, I still found myself at the front desk signing up for a month’s pass.

The next day I was sore, but comfortably so. My shoulders and upper-back muscles were sore from all the planks, but otherwise, I felt really good. I’d also had the best night’s sleep that I’d had in a while and I really did feel less stressed about the week ahead.

The classes I took towards the end of the week were just as rewarding as the first one. I’m definitely still learning all the different poses. A lot of them have names which I don’t understand and I’m probably not doing them correctly, but I definitely feel better after the classes.

One class took place after an extremely difficult exam and having that hour and a half to just be out of mind and focused on my movements and on being present completely changed my attitude. I didn’t think that yoga would have such a positive effect on my life as it did, and I truly look forward to going to each class.

I plan on going to all the classes I can before leaving for Christmas break and I can’t wait to see what progress I make. I’d love to gain some more muscle strength and also to become more flexible. For now, I’m grateful just for the positive effect it’s had on my attitude and stress levels.

If you’re feeling anxious or stressed or you just want to do something to better yourself, you should definitely look into taking a yoga class. A lot of studios, especially in Boston, offer student discounts which make it more affordable. Yoga is also a really great compliment to other athletic activities you might be doing.

I love my yoga studio and they have a great special going on where you can get 30 days of yoga for $30 which is the plan I signed up for. Maybe you’ll even see me there if you check it out!

If you’re a student in the Back Bay area of Boston and want to try Coolidge Corner Yoga (which I highly recommend) take a look at their website! http://coolidgeyoga.com/  Namaste!

All photos in this article were taken from Coolidge Corner Yoga Instagram.

Want to keep up with HCBU? Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, check out our Pinterest board, and read our latest Tweets!