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29 Thoughts Everyone Has During Their First Yoga Class

Hailey Sayegh |
October 17, 2014 | 4:31 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Yoga class. Photo taken by Evan Lovely (Creative Commons).
Yoga class. Photo taken by Evan Lovely (Creative Commons).
For years I’ve admired yogis’ toned arms. I've begrudged the yoga mat-toting ladies who glide blissfully to the gym to find inner peace. I've lamented my annually unfulfilled goal to take up meditation. So, I finally decided to carve out the time for a class. When would I go if not in college, where access is nearby and easy?

I attended one of the free yoga classes offered at USC’s Engemann Health Center through its BeWellUSC “Happy Hour” program. 

The experience was… interesting. No, yoga did not sweep me off my feet. I left as confused about it as ever. Although, to be fair, I think this particular Kundalini class was a little quirkier than most forms of yoga. 

READ MORE: Classic vs. Hybrid Yoga Classes

While trying in vain throughout the hour and 15 minutes to quiet my brain, I had a lot of thoughts on my first yoga class. I would venture to say I’m not alone in these mat musings.  

1. Let me just size up this instructor for a minute. Is she really fit and Zen enough to impart some muscle definition and peace of mind on me?

Then the chanting starts and I instantly feel self-conscious.

2. What is this mantra? What am I saying? This feels like a cult. Is this what a cult feels like?

3. OK, you’re overreacting. You’re here, you might as well give it a try.

4. I like the sound of all of our voices in unison. Am I succumbing to the cult mentality? 

We are now instructed to stand up off our mats and “dance out” any discomfort in our bodies by moving muscles that feel tight.

5. OK I can do that. Here I am, just flailing through space with my eyes closed. This is fun.

6. Hmmm how long is this going to last? It’s been at least 4 minutes.

7. [When picturing how we’d look to a fly on the wall] Suppress urge to laugh. 

The teacher then has us walk around the room and talk to each other. The trick is we have to move around from person to person, so this basically means exchanging awkward “hellos” and “what’s your major” over our shoulders. Thus far this has been neither relaxing nor a workout. 

Next comes an exercise that involves placing our hands in front of our faces and then circling our arms “vigorously,” as if we’re cleaning a window. For whatever reason, we’re not allowed to close our eyes. This went on for what I want to call five minutes.

8. Is this supposed to be exercise?

9. Huh. My arms and back are starting to hurt.

10. Ow. OW. Ow.

11. Man, I’m tired. How much longer?

12. I am not going to be the one who needs a break... From arm circling.  

13. Is nobody else in pain?!

The next exercise is criss-crossing our hands rapidly in front of our faces. The act of crossing your hands in front of your face supposedly “works on your nervous system.” What does that mean? At this point I gave up on trying to suppress my cynicism.

14. Good thing this is free.

15. I could be doing so much homework right now.

Next we’re instructed to take fast and heavy breaths through our stomachs. The teacher tells us to “pump our navels.”

16. Is all yoga phraseology this cringe-worthy?

17. Wow, this is uncomfortable.

18. I’m out of breath.

19. I am basically being told to hyperventilate.

20. Could I pass out from this?

She then has us stick out and curl our tongues, inhaling and exhaling through the little tunnel we’ve made with our tongues.

21. What?

Then we let our tongues hang out and pant like dogs. Panting like a dog supposedly improves your immune system.

READ MORE: Does Yoga Affect Your Immune System?

22. Can I leave yet?

Finally we lay on our backs with our eyes closed as the teacher hits a gong.

23. This is nice.

24. I’m falling asleep.

25. What a pleasant sound. I should buy a gong.

26. Yup, definitely falling asleep.

27. This gong reminds me of Mongolian barbecue.

28. It’s 6:30 p.m.

29. Yay! I can go home and eat now. 

Contact Staff Reporter (and budding yogi) Hailey Sayegh here.



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