Every New Year’s comes with change, and with change comes the call for resolutions: trying new things, achieving long-term goals, and becoming your best self. On her way to the local coffee shop for hot chocolate, Marina saw the pole. Flyers upon flyers covered it advertising clubs looking for new members, upcoming events seeking volunteers, a lost dog poster. Skimming each flyer for something interesting, a medium-sized rectangular poster with a woman in Extended Side Angle pose caught her eye.
Kick stress to the curb this New Year with a Yoga class!
Schedule: Every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Location: 24 Locust Street (across the street from Good Treats Mini Mart)
Instructor: Karen Rollins
Mat required. Blocks, Blankets, Straps provided. Make sure to bring water!!
Please make sure to turn off all devices before entering!
Check-in at reception desk. For more information, call Nadine…
Marina scribbled the phone number down on a piece of paper. After scheduling a class, she looked up the nearest Dick’s Sporting Goods on her Samsung Galaxy S7.
“This might be a good idea,” she said. “I should make time to destress for a change.”
After checking in with the receptionist, Nadine, Marina opened a grayish metallic door to her left. Inside, yoga students were grabbing blocks and straps from a shelf or taking off their jewelry in a cubby to store their shoes. The spacious studio had beige floors, walls a soothing light blue, four tall windows and a rock climbing wall near the back. Marina was intrigued as she set her green and blue striped mat on the floor.
The class itself consisted of twenty people. Despite the majority of students being women, almost a quarter of the group was men. A few people conversed with one another. Elsewhere, a middle-aged woman lied down on her mat and rested her head against a blanket, a younger man took a sip of water while walking to the shelf for the blocks, and two girls tied their hair back.
Soon, a hush fell over the room as a woman with a short bob, blue tank top, black shorts, and bare feet walked in. She sat down in the front of the students in Lotus pose.
“Welcome to Hatha Yoga. My name is Karen Rollins and I will be your instructor today. We will begin in a few minutes with a brief breathing exercise follow by learning some poses. Please know that you don’t have to get it right the first time. We all work at different paces.”
With everyone lying down, Karen instructed them, “Deep breath in, deep breath out.” Chests rose and fell in a rhythmic fashion, hands relaxed palms down, and smiles beginning to form on each student’s face. When the five minutes concluded, everyone opened their eyes and sat up. As Karen went through her CDs to pick out some soothing music, Marina noted the feel of the room changed.
Calmer, much calmer.
“Now,” Karen said, “we will start with a simple pose, Mountain, and move from there. Mountain is simply standing, like so.” The instructor stood.
“Next, we move into Standing Forward Bend.”
Standing Forward Bend required bending down to touch your toes. Some were able to reach their toes with ease while others could not. Marina was a few inches short and exerted herself to try and reach her feet. She mumbled under her breath, “This shouldn’t be so difficult.” Meanwhile, the middle-aged guy next to her reached his toes with ease. How did he do that? Maybe I’m too short…
Footsteps stopped beside her. “If you can’t reach, it’s okay. You can also bend your knees and have your hands rest there.”
Marina nodded with a smile and thanked her. Karen grinned. “Very good. Just remember to breathe as you bend and rest. It’s not a contest and we are in no rush.”
“I guess it’s hard to slow down sometimes.”
“It is for all of us! Remember, yoga is about calming your mind and body.”
Throughout the class, Karen demonstrated pose after pose, taking time to help students pinpoint where their feet should go, aligning hands, advising people to breathe in-between positions and suggesting alternative ways to achieve a pose through using blocks like Half Moon pose or Triangle Pose. The Child Pose—which had the students resting their heads on the mat and hands straight out in front of them— was Marina’s favorite. Her head down, she felt her breaths come out easier.
Marina still struggled, though, as did other students. The final pose that day was the Dancer. The pose appeared simple: bend and hold your right leg with your left arm while your right arm extended away from your torso. But as some of the students practiced, their left legs began to shake. A few almost lost their balance and had to break out of the Dancer Pose to catch their footing. Looking around, Marina noticed more than half of the group managed to hold the pose. They looked like living statues.
The class concluded with a final breathing session. As everyone gathered their things, a few went up to Karen and shook hands.
“Thank you for the class today! When’s your next one?”
“I was having a little trouble with the Triangle. Can we go over it again?”
“What book do you use to teach this class so I can practice on my own?”
“Do you have any suggestions for music to play while doing Hatha Yoga?”
Karen took the time to answer everyone’s questions and concerns while suggesting a list of books and music. Marina grinned in approval at the interactions. When the small crowd dispersed, she went up to the teacher.
“Could you teach the Dancer Pose again? I seem to be having a hard time with it,” Marina asked.
“Absolutely! A few other people also shared concerns about the pose. My next class isn’t until Wednesday but I’ve made a note to go over it with all of you.”
“Thank you. How long have you been a Yoga instructor?”
“Five years. I love it,” she said. “I took a Yoga class in college and fell in love with it ever since. I enjoy it mostly because it calms your mind. I turn on some calming music, begin in Child Pose and then work my way up from there. Just remember that the more you do it, the easier it gets so don’t sweat it if you’re struggling.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, thanks!”
As Marina walked away, she realized something. As she helped each student, Karen was not critical at least once. The entire time she was gentle, patient, considerate and willing to go the extra mile to help a student. She overheard her telling one student, “I know it’s hard to not get a pose the first time, but it’s through learning that we achieve the goal. Keep going and remember to be kind to yourself!”
Entering the busy world before her, Marina was calmer, more focused, and feeling like she could breathe a lot more easily. She was glad she found the flyer for the Yoga class.
She couldn’t wait until Wednesday.