5 thoughts I had during my first Ashtanga yoga lesson

Students doing 'downward dog' Photocredit: Army Medicine (Flickr)
Students doing 'downward dog' Photocredit: Army Medicine (Flickr)

Yoga, especially Ashtanga Yoga, seems to be the trend that never quite left. Trends like going on juice diets, joining the Kabbalah-religion and wearing a red bracelet or signing up for Tinder quickly faded right after their peak.

Yoga is still a thing. People are saying that the popular way of exercising is just a temporarily hype right now, and that it will go away sometime soon.

A poll done by The Yoga Journal says the complete opposite: 200 million people around the world (including me) do yoga on a regular basis.

This is where the humoristic angle applies: each and every one of those 200 million people had to try yoga for the very first time. Perhaps in a class, perhaps by searching YouTube or perhaps by learning from a friend. Either way, they experienced something new and odd for the very first time, and at least 60% of them ( I can almost guarantee this) thought it was very, very awkward.


About three years ago, I started getting back pain at the age of 18 and I knew I had to do something. I was a couch potato by heart and going to the gym by myself wasn’t even an option. Yoga was very popular at that time, so I decided to perhaps give it a go.

A quick search on Google tells me right now that there far too many types of yoga to even come close to an accurate number. Therefore I decided to attend a regular course at my local studio, tried it out, found that it was way too…relaxing…and decided to spice things up a little.

I learned that the same studio offered a course called Ashtanga, signed up for 12 weeks straight and had no idea what I was about to go through.

Just a quick description from Wikipedia: “Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a modern style of gymnastic exercises and stretching practiced in combination with yoga breathing and ancient yoga philosophy.”

Without further ado, my first lesson went a little something like this:

1. “I am so heavy.”

I’m not an overweight person, nor a skinny one. Normal. As I mentioned before, I had never done any exercise previously, so I didn’t have any arm strength to be particularly proud of. I knew this, but somehow, I was surprised at how hard it was to lift myself up from the floor. Just a basic push up in the pose chaturanga – I felt like a brick. Not only was I sweating after 3 minutes of moving, but literally everyone else around me could do the pose and they were 10+ years older than me. It was (and is still) the single most embarrassing moment in my gym-life after middle school.

2. “I am more stretchy than I thought.”

Ashtanga Yoga is basically 90 minutes of stretching (+ 20-something push ups) and I thought I would have a much bigger problem with this than I actually had. Ashtanga Yoga is a series of repetitive moves that you do every lesson, and most of the poses involves you standing in a stretching position for about 10 to 15 seconds. I’ve never been much of an acrobat, but during the first hour of my very first yoga-lesson ever, I actually considered joining the circus.

3. “This is so weird.”

The concept of working out, sweating and wearing tight clothes in the same room as complete strangers have always fascinated me. It’s a weird concept. An even weirder concept is doing very stretchy poses in the same small room as eight other female strangers; especially the concept of the female instructor who is teaching us how to be more stretchy. To say the least, I was very vary of the big windows in the studio and all the potential viewers out there.

4. “If I fart now, it’s okay.”

By the end of the class, I was so warm and sweaty I literally did not care about my face, my hair or my potential cameltoe. (I had already seen about three that very class) My body felt like it had been hit by a truck, dragged through the mud and then attended a Ashtanga Yoga class for the first time. As we finally got to lay down to rest on our mats at the end of practice, I thought to myself: “If you fart now, I won’t care. You did a good job; better than I ever expected. Your body has gone through a lot.” Needless to say, I did not fart.

5. “I need some time to think about whether or not I want to do this again.”

The feeling I had walking out of that studio was amazing. A marathon would be easy to run, I was flying and I felt much lighter (and skinnier, hehe) than ever. But you know that kind of stretching you have to do to touch your toes? That pain gets in your bones. That pain is hard to forget. I’m still not sure if the pain is worth it sometimes and I definitely don’t think it’s worth it during the actual practice.

I did end up going back again…and again…and again…for three whole years. I had my final class this spring because I moved to Dublin, but I already miss my teacher and I actually think she misses  me too. She has to! My awkward downward dog is like nothing else, and the evil eye I gave her every time she pushed me further into a pose was memorable.

You should try it! Just one class 😉

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