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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Strike a pose, improve your attitude and outlook on life
First-time yoga student finds sense of peace
Published Wednesday, February 7, 2018 12:08 am
by Daniel J. Watson

Yoga is a discipline that helps people improve their health through breathing technique, meditation and improved posture.

Teacher: Now everybody, Chaturanga Dandasana.

Me: Chatur-what?

I thought to myself what in the world does that mean? as my perplexed and sweaty face scanned the room at the far more competent yoga veterans to make sense of the instructor’s foreign directions.

That was day one of my four-day stint at CorePower Yoga Studio. You see, the yoga gods believe that if one participates in four or more yoga sessions a week they will experience an internal shift and live an overall better life. As the new reporter on the block, guess who got to test this theory?

I come bearing good news, though. First, I survived four days of yoga, which deserves a round of applause. Second, and most important, the yoga gods were right. In just four days I noticed a few differences in my daily routine: better posture, less road rage, and an increased sense of pacification.

Each class was without a doubt the best 60 minutes of my day. In the studio, it was just me and my mat – no matter how sweaty it was. The hardships of the outside world couldn’t reach me. It’s just a safe place to foster mind and body.

As you can imagine, I was very apprehensive at first. I’m a lanky 150 pounds and the only thing I regularly exercise are my First Amendment rights - what business do I have doing yoga? What you don’t know about me is that my fraternity is the reigning step show champion at UNC Charlotte. I thought my ice-cold moves would give me a leg up, but they were still no match for the intense core-strengthening.

Now back to the chaturanga dandasana. It’s a movement in which you go from a high plank (push-up position with outstretched arms) to a low plank (push-up position with bent arms). Chaturanga means “four limbs;” danda means “staff” and asana means “pose.” Teachers frequently call this command a “reset button” to help participants transition between different sets of moves. If I had a dollar for every time I heard this command I’d have enough money to buy two yoga studios.

The first two days I took the CorePower Yoga 1 foundation-building class where I learned the basics. The teachers were encouraging and even provided hands on assistance. There was a moment in time where I was balancing my entire body on just my two hands. I looked like a b-boy on “So You Think You Can Dance” or something. I remember thinking to myself hey, this isn’t that bad, like I can really do this. With two classes under my belt and my confidence at an all-time it was time to kick it up a notch.

The third day I did Yoga Sculpt, a mix of free weights and cardio – by far the most challenging class. I kept my water bottle close as I cycled through a variety of moves: jumping jacks, mountain climbers, bicycle kicks and push-ups. The upbeat tracks created an intense but fun atmosphere. As a challenge I wanted to push myself to my limits so I went extra hard that day. This could’ve also had to do with the fact that I was the only male in class, couldn’t let the ladies outdo me right? That night was without a doubt the best sleep I’ve experienced in 2018.

For my grand finale, I went to Hot Power Fusion, which focuses on postures that open the shoulders, hips and spine while strengthening the core and upper body. When they say hot, they really mean it. The temperature is set to a cozy 100 degrees. The class had a much slower pace and tested my balance. I was probably on one leg 80 percent of the time.

As you can see, I survived. You can do it too. The results are actually quite remarkable.

When sitting at a desk, I practice sitting up now to strengthen my core and refrain from slouching. Someone cut me off the other day on I-77 and I took a deep inhale through my nose and exhaled out my mouth instead of releasing an onslaught of expletives.

It’s really the little things. I just feel good.

At the end of each class, we folded our hands in a prayer pose and peacefully say the word “namaste” to each other. Namas means “to honor” and te means “you.” In saying this, we thank each other for sharing the same space and energy.

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