1.The term yoga comes from a Sanskrit word which means yoke or union. Traditionally,
yoga is a method joining the individual self with the Divine, Universal Spirit, or
Cosmic Consciousness. Physical and mental exercises are designed to help achieve
this goal, also called self-transcendence or enlightenment. On the physical level,
yoga postures, called asanas, are designed to tone, strengthen, and align the body.
These postures are performed to make the spine supple and healthy and to promote
blood flow to all the organs, glands, and tissues, keeping all the bodily systems
healthy. On the mental level, yoga uses breathing techniques (pranayama) and
meditation (dyana) to quiet, clarify, and discipline the mind. However, experts
are quick to point out that yoga is not a religion, but a way of living with
health and peace of mind as its aims.
2.An exercise movement that has gained in popularity in the United States over the
course of the new millennium. It involves group classes often situated in heated rooms
Yoga, as stated above... is an ancient way of life (connected to the this blog because of its birthplace in India) best known in our society for its physical manifestation as a type of group exercise. With it has arose a tight-knit community of active and devoted yoga yogis. I have never been one of these yoga yogis and, in fact, I have been a skeptic of these yoga doers. Jess, a long time college friend
and subsequently one of my roommates of the past two months has been badgering me for
the past eight weeks to go to a yoga class with her.
DISCLAIMER: WHAT I AM ABOUT TO SAY IS SOMETHING I ALWAYS HAVE TROUBLE ADMITTING
For all of those eight weeks I have told Jess that I believed yoga would barely
challenge me and that I could easily make it trough one session without having to
a break or stop doing the movements at any point. To make a long story short... not
only was I wrong, after an hour and a half of sweaty suffering I was, dead wrong.
Having played competitive soccer for over seven years and being coached by a former
US men's national team player and a sly Russian who played in Europe a 127 lb. yoga
instructor had me on my knees holding my hands in prayer in front of my chest
(ironically enough one of the few times during the class I was doing the correct
Two very important things to know before going to yoga... drink water... lots and
lots of water and DO NOT EAT within two hours of the classes start.
To discuss the first of the two points: The average human body has 37 liters of water
within it. At the end of ninety minutes 34.72 of those liters formed a moat around my
mat area, darkened my clothes color by three shades and ineffectively cooled my skin from the stagnant, 93 degree, dry heated room. My fingers were wrinkled from contact with the drenched towel and mat beneath me making me feel like Benjamin Button at age 7.
Second... using the restroom in a yoga studio gives off a very familiar sense: the smell of a filled port-a-potty sitting outside all summer at a construction site in Dubai.
Needless to say I struggled through (actively engaging for roughly and hour and then
spending the last thirty minutes of the class in the child's pose-- for those unfamiliar its exactly as you would imagine) and I realized that I had been humbled.
I am excited to move forward from this experience with a renewed commitment to never judge something without having attempted it first myself. In the next year there will be many situations that I am sure I will be quick to come to a conclusion and this episode, fittingly occurring on my final day in DC, will help to ground me again in the importance of experience and openness.
For those of you who have not tried yoga... I strongly encourage you to try although I would also strongly recommend first trying a beginners class).