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I’m crossing another item off my list!
I signed up with two of my best girlfriends, N and T, for a Groupon (have I mentioned how much I love that site?) to try 10 fitness classes at the Fairmount Athletic Club in King of Prussia. Saturday a week ago we went for a morning Beginner’s Yoga class. The website described it as “A class for those new to yoga or for those who prefer a more gentle pace.” N and T have limited experience with yoga, and I have none whatsoever. Having never done it, I went into class with no expectations of how the class would run or how it would make me feel.
Let me take a step back from this specific experience to say I was excited mostly for these classes because yoga is a proven method of pain management for fibromyalgia patients. Having only been diagnosed recently, I am still trying different techniques and methods to reduce my symptoms. In a recent CNN report, I learned that “Fibromyalgia patients who aren’t getting relief from prescription drugs and are in too much pain to exercise may want to try yoga, a new study suggests. A weekly two-hour yoga class reduced fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and stiffness by 30 percent in more than half of the people who took it.” I couldn’t ignore those statistics. Anway, back to the class!
The facility was modern and comfortable at the same time, a rare thing in a gym. We went through the gym and up a flight of stairs to a small room that was temperature controlled to be slightly warmer than the rest of the facility. Yoga mats were provided for those of us who don’t have our own (though I will be purchasing one in the near future). The instructor, Mary, was all smiles and made the atmosphere welcoming and accommodating especially to those of us who were new to yoga. We did an hour of low-impact, low-stress stretches and poses, like Child’s pose, Eagle and Downward Dog, among others.
The class’s focus was on breathing, energy and balance. Between instructions, Mary would explain why we were doing a certain pose. She said yoga is all about balancing the body as well as energy; so after you do a more strenuous position, you balance that out with a rest position like Child’s pose. At the end of the class, she took us through a guided meditation called Savasana. N, T and I agreed this was our favorite part. It seemed to all of us that Mary was reading our thoughts, because when we would feel distracted, she would tell us to just let distractions float in and out of our consciousness like clouds. When we were forgetting to breathe “with purpose”, she would remind us. All 3 of us came out of the class in a daze, feeling like relaxed, wet noodles. Overall, an EXTREMELY good experience.
Then, this past Thursday, we tried another yoga class called Vinyasa yoga, or flow yoga. This consists of non-stop motion (hence “flow”). I found this difficult and non relaxing, though I’ll admit it was a great workout. To get an idea of one rep of a vinyasa, check out this video, but imagine it at double speed because that’s how our instructor was doing it. Then picture an hour and a half of it and you may start to understand why I was DYING. My muscles are still burning but overall it was still a good experience. It was not a beginner class and I am admittedly out of shape. I think I’d like to try it again once I have more strength in my arms and have more experience with beginner yoga. I think most of the rest of the classes on our Groupon will be yoga — we also want to try some Zumba, but I wouldn’t say no to pilates or spinning either.