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The Dartmouth
April 19, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

The Yogi Within

As a high school varsity athlete turned NARP, I am pretty much one of the least flexible people on this campus. My idea of stretching includes barely touching my toes and doing the classic sun stretch (that one where you lie down and pretend to be stretching your back).

So when I decided to take a yoga class for the first time, let's just say my expectations weren't very high.

It's a well-known fact that all girls own yoga pants, despite the fact that over half of them haven't been to a yoga class and never plan on attending one.

So I whipped out those cute Lululemons that I wear when I pretend to go to the gym and made the trek over to the multi-purpose room that is home to "Vigorous Vinyasa."

When I walked in, I immediately recognized that I was the only non-yogi in the room. Everyone else had two blocks and a strap, some were doing the splits and some were meditating to the traditional chants being played over the speakers.

Filled with skepticism and dread, I grabbed a mat and immediately lay down and fell asleep.

I awoke to the sound of a French woman describing the class as a flow through some of the more difficult yoga poses, as she assumed everyone in the room had practiced yoga before.

After spending the first 10 minutes just breathing on our backs, I realized that I could actually get used to this.

Unfortunately, the class become more difficult from there as we did Vinyasa after Vinyasa aimed at targeting body parts I had never even heard of.

As I struggled along, the instructor noticed what a hard time I was having and decided to come have a little chat with me. She started calling me "my little friend" and essentially ridiculed me in front of the entire class.

As we transitioned from downward dog into warrior pose, she came over and told me that my alignment was completely wrong and that I would end up a hunchback if I continued to practice this poorly.

Due to my years of club soccer and probably because of my insane mother, I am a very competitive person.

Like many Dartmouth students, I feel the need to be the best at everything I do. Watching the middle-aged women from Hanover practice yoga better than I could was definitely not the highlight of the class.

I was trying desperately to focus on my ujjayi breath, but I just couldn't find it with all the anger I was channeling toward my much older classmates.

After a moral and physical beat down by the instructor and my own diminishing self-esteem, it was finally time for shavasana, hands down the best part of the class. I tried to calm my anger and just relax into the moment, but I couldn't get past my own insecurities. Not to sound cliche, but at one point I'm pretty sure I experienced a brief moment of clarity.

My mother always tells me that practicing yoga is an intensely personal experience, and that in order to reap all of its benefits, you have to focus on yourself instead of those around you.

In a moment of reflection, I realized that even though I might not be the best at yoga not even close I did feel much more at peace and relaxed at the end of the class than when we began.