Monday, February 4, 2013

Giving Yoga Another Go

I've raved about community colleges before, but I'd like to highlight an important feature of community colleges that too often goes overlooked. The best way to describe this is to give an example--in fact, the example that made me want to write this post.

Downward dog by Chickpea, Flickr
You could say I'm yoga's biggest fan who doesn't do yoga. I've taken a class here or there and tried to do it at home, but I've never really found my place in yoga. I've never had an instructor correct me, so I never feel like I'm doing it right. Also, since I'm a beginner, I typically need to modify a lot of the poses, but some instructors don't explain the modifications, or, if they do, I seem to be the only one in class who has to modify.

Then there's the attitude and ambience. Everyone's so silent and serious. Am I the only one who's making grocery lists in my head instead of focusing on my breathing? Am I the only one who thinks wobbling over while standing on one leg is kind of funny?Am I the only one who's stifling a fart? Like I said, I feel out of place.

I decided to try a yoga class at the community college where I work. I believe yoga is a great thing, you see. And I believe it's for me (and everybody), even though my experience with it hasn't been great. I realized one problem with taking yoga at a gym or a studio is that, by definition, the people in the class are mostly regulars, so they already know the drill. What I needed was a solid foundation. The fundamentals. I wanted an instructor who would correct me. I wanted to be surrounded by newbies just like me.

And therein lies the great thing about community colleges. Fitness classes there are mostly designed for beginners (unless they're labeled as intermediate or advanced), for college students who have some electives or physical education credits to burn and just want to try some different activities. They're intended to be educational first and foremost. Some people have complained that the fitness classes they've taken at my college are too easy or there's too much talking, but that's kind of the point. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of room for more advanced classes, but for beginners, the college builds an excellent foundation that most gyms and studios don't or can't build.

Oh, and community college courses are cheap! Even though my college just went through a tuition hike, you can't beat this deal anywhere in town. And if you take one class there, you might just be tempted to take another and another!

In related news, I feel really good about this class. Today was the first day of class, and the instructor talked on and on about modifications to make things easier. Yes, this is my speed. 

Related link: Yogis in Their 90s


Laura said...

The difference was night and day between the yoga classes I took in college and the one I tried at my previous gym. The college instructor was so kind and not only explained modified poses, but demonstrated them. The instructor at the gym seemed to be in a trance and barely spoke at all, just moved through the poses. Not terribly helpful. I'm glad you found a class you like.

Domestic Kate said...

I don't want to lump all gyms and studios into one category--I know they aren't all the same--but I'm glad to hear you had a similar experience as mine.

Laura said...

I agree, they aren't all the same. I think it's about finding the "right" teacher for you. I'm hoping my new gym's yoga classes will be more like the college classes, so fingers crossed for that.

Catherine Particini said...

Yay! I'm so glad you found a class and teacher that are enjoyable! It's true that many teachers brush over the fundamentals, mumble some modification or simply ignore the beginners in the room because they don't know how to teach basics. This leaves you feeling like a leper...which kind of throws off the whole yoga = union thing ;) Yay, yoga! And yay for you!

Domestic Kate said...

Catherine, what a great profile photo! It's interesting what you said about teachers not knowing how to teach the basics. Maybe for some it's been too long since they were beginners, or maybe those who are drawn to teach yoga are people who are already very strong, flexible, and balanced. It's kind of like when I teach Zumba, and someone asks me how to move their hips. I'm a little speechless because it's something that I can just do without thinking about it.