“Be grateful for what you can do, and be grateful for what you can’t do.”
With those words, Katie the Fabulous Yoga Instructor ended class today. I was relaxing in corpse pose (no really, that’s its name; the Yoga-ese term is “shavasana”) and reflecting on my first hot vinyasa class. And by “reflecting,” I mean “collecting my breath,” because I seriously doubt much analytical thought goes on at the end of any hot yoga class.
I’ve gone to four hot yoga classes now, but like I said, this was my first vinyasa. “Vinyasa” essentially means moving around more. I was a tad bit nervous beforehand – that whole trying-new-things idea – but I’m glad I went, especially since the class was in the middle of a weekday. That meant less people in the studio. Ahhh… the simple pleasure of not having to graze any of your neighbors’ body parts.
The other cool thing about a smaller class, and really about going to any class on a semi-regular basis, is that you get to know the instructor(s) better, and vice versa.
Having a good yoga instructor is AWESOME. This woman Katie has taught most of the classes I’ve attended. I went up to her after my third hot yoga class to say thank you. It seemed the right thing to do after yet another experience of finding humility, focus, humility, and in the end, after more humility, a shiny new layer of self-confidence. Or, as Katie put it, “facing your s***.”
She smiled and we introduced ourselves, and then she immediately asked, “You’re a runner?” Actually it wasn’t much of a question. The hamstrings and IT bands of us runners tend to speak for themselves, no? Brushing aside my embarrassment over my inflexibility, she trotted me right over to my mat and showed me several yoga positions that are fantastic for the IT band and hamstring. I felt like I had my own personal coach!
When I went to today’s class, Katie remembered me and said, “I’m so glad I learned that you’re a runner; now I know what to focus on with you.” Part of me thought “Oh Lord, now I’m going to get singled out, ugh,” but another part of me thought, “COOL. This yoga stuff really will make me a better, stronger runner! It’s not just a sweaty bunch of hooey!”
As class progressed with Katie leading us through the positions, she occasionally called out, “So-and-so, this one is good for you” and moved on. No pressure to get it perfect the first time; just a casual heads-up. When I heard my name, I half-smiled, half-grimaced, because my IT band was…well, you know what happens when you try to give a dog medicine and the dog doesn’t want it? That was my IT band. Still, I appreciated having instruction with a little personal touch.
Hot yoga, no matter what the style, is challenging. It kicks my butt every time I go, but I have no interest in quitting. Instructors who weave humor, education, and insight into class make it absolutely worth it for me to go and push my limits. I leave every class confident that I’m becoming stronger both as a person and as a runner.
Here’s to Katie and all the instructors like her.