Discovering Yoga: An Intern’s Perspective

Yesterday I attended my third ever yoga class of the summer at Back Bay Yoga Studio. I have become much more familiar with the basic poses and progressions that these classes go through. I enjoyed the class very much and left feeling great. Afterwards, I started to think more about the class and yoga in general, and came up with an interesting thought.

In my experience working out, I am used to not only being very active and moving around, but also working hard with a lot of intensity. Yoga has an atmosphere that is very relaxing and meditative. The yoga instructor is constantly talking the class down in a calm voice and teaching meditative concepts. I am still warming up to this part of yoga, but I do think it is pretty sweet. What I found though, is that some poses are difficult obviously, and that I have to really focus and work hard physically to hold them and to improve at them. This is not at all surprising. Yoga is still an exercise, a workout, and it should be physically tough at times. I was finding it difficult to balance the relaxed atmosphere with the intensive parts of the yoga workout. In my mind, relaxation and exercise are opposites.

When talking about this with the Well Heeled Guru herself today (Doreen Hing), she talked to me about an interesting point. She said that when I am in a pose, and it feels strenuous or difficult, what I have to focus on is relaxing the correct muscles in order to improve at the pose. After thinking about this for a bit, it made a good amount of sense. Improving at your poses is not about seeing how long you can strain your body in weird positions for, but rather knowing exactly which muscles to strain and which ones to relax. While this also seems very difficult, it will help me in the next class to focus on this aspect so I can finally combine relaxation and exercise.

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