I've been sporadically doing yoga for years. Yes, sporadically. And while my yoga moves are, at any given time, fairly decent, (I've been told that I've been blessed with the ability to hyper-extend most of my limbs) I was really excited to see that Pink Lotus Yoga was going to host outdoor yoga sessions not just once a week, but four times a week. Essentially, I had no excuse but to try it out. So, I grabbed a friend and we took our mats to the grass. And let's face it, after spending the majority of the day writing, a nice yoga session was exactly what I needed.
At first, I thought it would be difficult to balance on the somewhat unbalanced surface of Lakewood Park, but with the beauty of Lake Erie in the background, the chirping of the birds, and the chuckling of some squirrels in a nearby tree, who were probably wondering what the heck we were all doing, gave me better balance than I've had in years. There was something about being outdoors that made my body feel connected to my breathing and the various poses. Okay, I was connected once I got over the humor of some of the pose names. When someone is calling out rocking horse, drinking bird, rocking horse, my impulse is to chuckle. Yoga does have some interesting names for things. But each pose serves a purpose to relax, center, and challenge you, so regardless of what you call it, if you really embrace each pose, you'll feel the benefits.
My first outdoor class was host by Marcia, the founder and director of Pink Lotus Yoga. She has a very calming and soothing approach, mixed with a nice sense of humor. She's very good explaining each pose and helping to adjust you if you're struggling with a pose. You know, like when you're laying on your back with your left leg out to the side and you're trying to twist. Yeah, struggled with that one just a bit. But Marcia helped me work it out. That's the thing about yoga. As Marcia noted while performing a difficult pose herself, you really never master a pose completely.
If you enjoy yoga, I highly recommend coming out for a session either at Lakewood Park on Tuesday and Friday evenings, or at Rocky River Park on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Visit www.pinklotusyoga.com for exact times and information about rain sites. There's no set fee, just a give what-you-can donation, which is perfect for this particular graduate student on a budget. I'm not sure how this class would be for the total beginner, but Pink Lotus does have a Beginner's Yoga class that might be work checking out before you head outdoors.
And remember, yoga isn't competitive. Even if the person next to you is some sort of yoga expert, or just a contortionist, don't push yourself to get deeper into a pose than your body can take. Instead, use them as a guide to help you get into the pose the best you can. Sure in yoga you want to push yourself, but you also don't want to have to explain to people that you threw out your back because you really thought you could do handstand, only to find out that you couldn't.