Give it a shot

Story by Audrey Haskins, staff writer

There is a popular stereotype about yoga that seems to be drilled into most of the population’s minds; yoga is easy. My friends, I’m going to have to disagree. Not too long ago, I joined a friend in her yoga class expecting it to be gentle stretching. My friend, Nadia Fryer, does yoga any day of the week she can and claims it to be relaxing and good for her stressed back.

I was ready to shavasana, a word I previously thought meant “lay down and take a quick nap.” However, that’s not what I got.

I waltzed into the Texarkana Yoga Studio with my $10 walk-in fee and my trusty orange water bottle. Nadia then directed me to grab a mat and towels (to soak up the copious amounts of sweat about to be produced) and wait for the instructor.

When our instructor came, she directed us into a dark room with an abundance of mirrors, I was punched in the face with a pretty intense heat. The room is set to a high temperature for the “warm” class, which I did not expect. Apparently this is to help people build up their heat tolerance, but at the time I thought it was a cruel joke.

We set up our mats and towels by the door (Nadia informed me every time someone walks in or out a cool breeze rushes in) and our instructor walked to the front of the room. I payed more attention to her exotic accent when I probably should’ve listened to what we were going to be doing for the next hour, but with the heat, my mind refused to focus.

Then we began. It was simple enough, we did a few stretches to begin which made me feel a bit like a human pretzel, and I was starting to feel relaxed and even numb to the temperature.

I thought I maybe would have been bored by this point, but the weight of academics that had been put on my shoulders seemed to roll off. My mind was blank. The only things filling it was a soft Russian accent and the acoustic Fleetwood Mac song bouncing off the four walls.

We had stretched slowly for about 15 minutes at the start of class, and although I was sweating like I’ve never sweat before, I felt a change in my mood and physicality. Suddenly there was a drastic change. We had stayed in “downward dog” for a significant amount of time and my arms were beginning to shake. Our instructor, however, decided to speed things up. We jumped from one crippling, ab-tensing stretch to the next and I could not keep up. It was dreadful.

I somehow managed to be even worse when the ties were brought out to be used, and improved the movements instead. Frequent breaks were taken to catch my breath and chug water, but I gave it my best effort.

Although I was an embarrassment to the practice, the moment the session ended and our instructor placed cool towels across our foreheads while we relaxed on our mats, I felt more relaxed than I had been in months.

I found myself not caring that my generally sedentary body had endured a fast paced workout. On the contrary, I felt accomplished. I felt as if I had no worries and that the only thing I needed to place any focus on was my own breath.

This feeling is something anyone with a busy or stressful lifestyle should experience often. The best part about it is that you don’t have to be super fit to do it. Right afterwards Nadia and I went to Chilis to indulge in pasta and molten lava cake. Completely guilt free.

In the class there were men and women, both of different ages and varying races. People were slim and flexible, while others were heavy set. The muscular, sporty people had me beat on speed but I bested them in the flexibility category. Anyone can do yoga. It doesn’t matter who you are outside of the studio because once you’re in it, you’ll forget any minor details about the world around you and center on yourself.

Yoga doesn’t have to be done in a class either. If the environment in a yoga studio isn’t private enough, there are many videos on youtube that can be followed.

Yoga in the end was something I’m glad I tried. I have bad back, and the pain is usually lifted after each yoga session. The stress that consumes my personality on a daily basis magically disappears for a magnificent hour. Since my first yoga session I’ve gone back to Texarkana Yoga Studio and I make sure I do it at home at least twice a week. For the stressed, interested, or even those who experience tense muscles and nerve problems, give yourself that one therapeutic hour.