The teacher was one of the mat bodies. She rose up and began to call out words like- table, cobra, down dog. Mat man and I scrambled to some facsimile pose by looking at those around us. We frequently shot bug eyed and fear filled glances at each other, dropping knees to the mat and panting, many minutes before the other students.The teacher offered no reason, description or modification. Sheesh. I thought she would begin with a lecture something like, "The history of Yoga" or "Yoga- what is it."
Following that class, the only person to speak with me was mat-man. We pondered what to do. Since we PAID for 6 lessons, we decided to keep coming. Without him and my cheap skate nature that would have been it for my 6 week adventure. A year went by before friends convinced me that this was not a typical yoga experience. I finally ventured into another class. This time as I entered the room the teacher smiled and waved me in. A lovely young lady hollered to me from the back of the large room, "come back here to the fart corner, we have lots or room!" MY kind of welcome! Ladies were laughing and telling me to do what I could and relax. That they were all beginners too. Turns out beans is probably not an appropriate meal choice just before yoga. "She's a vegetarian", they shrugged, kindly and resignedly pointing to my welcome committee lady.
Lesson learned. My yoga classes are all beginner friendly, we wave new people in, we wear loose and comfortable clothing. I teach anatomy, why the pose helps the body. We ignore the occasional fart but laugh every class- usually when I call out left when I really mean right. Students facing every which way. "Oops, what did I just say?" "Just do what you know I mean" HA.
Sometimes I teach Yoga but don't call it that. For some people the word- yoga- is a barrier, too out there, too woo woo, only for flexible people they think.
One of my current students is a District Court Judge. When she told me what Judges do all day, sit for hours, no bathroom breaks, no food, no drink. Just roll through the docket. Gosh, I thought. Judges need yoga. I wrote up a one hour program, "Yoga for Judges" and pitched it to the Education Director for the Supreme Court of Virginia. She loved the concept and content. Her hesitation came with the title. "Not sure how many would attend", was her e-mail to me.
I responded to her with the new title, "Reversing the effects of prolonged sitting: A tactical approach".
Her immediate reply, "Consider yourself booked".
My presentation was at the Judicial Conference in Williamsburg, VA in May. 6:30 AM for one hour. A dozen participants.
I taught the same content, saving the word yoga for after the evidence was given. I lead with the anatomy and physiology- as I always do. I cited recent research findings about prolonged sitting. I gave breathing and pose suggestions to do while sitting at the bench and through out the day. Some of the Judges made suggestions to each other. We laughed a bunch too.
Here is one of the follow up comments:
"As curmudgeonly and unfuzzy as I am, and as skeptical as I am of all things Eastern , I thought Nurse Turnage's presentation was helpful and pitched at the right level. She did not ask us to hum or hold hands, or even to get in touch with our feminine sides; rather, she clearly recognized that she was dealing with right-side thinkers and gave us persuasive bases for why we should do the things she was suggesting and how the things she was suggesting specifically addressed issues that we, sedentary judges, face. Add to all that, she seemed like a very nice person. I would go back, and I "would recommend it to my friends." (Judge V. L.)
Yoga is for Every Body. Just start first with what's in it for them.