Health and Wellness

A Man’s First Time At A Yoga Class

We were at a private evening event with my friends, the kind of gatherings where you complain about how tiresome your week has been, or any trending topics of the moment.

I couldn’t wait for my turn to complain about how my back was hurting and that I need something to reset. I did, and there was this friend at the corner listening silently.

“I have a remedy for you,” she whispered.

My face lit up as I approached her, to listen to this remedy I had been looking for a long time.

“Yoga?”, my brain froze for a millisecond. 

I had to reject her prescription in disappointment that night, but it kept running on in my mind. 

It was in the midweek, Wednesday, and as I was walking past the Moroccan embassy going home, I saw the place my friend had told me to go for the “Yoga” session.

This time round, my body took over and I somehow found myself inside Ituze Mindfulness and Yoga Center.

Like a nuns’ home, the house was very quiet, peaceful and calm. Indoors, it felt like a monastery. A guy welcomed me – I didn’t ask his name – who sounded like a priest in a confession box because of how soft he was talking.

Lucky enough, I had included a pair of shorts in my bag as I had been planning to meet up with a longtime friend in the neighbourhood for a jog.

So, I checked their schedule and went for the ‘Yoga for all’ 6 pm session – after all, “for all” means all people, all levels, or at least I thought. Little did I know a lot of surprises were waiting for me. And how could I forget about inquiring the price of a session. I did, and the guy showed me a box that I immediately labeled ‘The Offertory Box’ in my mind, where you donate according to what you have.

This was the first surprise and I genuinely enjoyed it, while it lasted.

Additionally, I used to think that Yoga was for ladies… and my thought was going to become reality in a few. 

Derrick “DJ” Townsel is a former NFL player, and a yoga instructor

People started coming and getting ready for the session. Like every newcomer, i was trying to blend in by doing everything people I considered regulars – just by their calmness and self-assuredness – did. I registered my name in the visitor’s book (or rather, I think it was) on the lectern at the entrance of the sessions’ hall.

Turning around, something was odd.

“Is it a females only session?!” my mind screamed, not knowing that I was thinking out loud.

“No, it’s for both men and women, and sometimes men triple the women’s presence,” the white lady calmly replied. I gave her that face that mothers make when you claim to not have stolen sugar, while you still had some crystals left at the corners of your mouth.

The Session

6 PM arrived and Tibetan or Buddhist meditation music started playing. Everyone got to their mats and sat in whatever position they preferred.

I tried blending in again, and sat in a cross-legged position called ‘Easy Pose‘, which I later learned is called Sukhasana. We were told to relax a bit, and then told to lie down on our chest.

Sukhasana, or ‘Easy Pose’

We started doing respiration exercises while also doing the Bhujangasana (‘Cobra Pose’) – where you lie on your stomach with your feet together and toes flat. Place your hands downwards below your shoulders on the mat, lift your waist and lift up your head while inhaling. At that point the male trainer would count to three for holding our breath and count again for releasing, while lying again on our stomachs.

Cobra pose, or Bhujangasana

The exercise went on for a couple of minutes and when I glanced around the room two more men had joined, among about eleven ladies.

We also did the ‘Child Pose‘ – where you bend your knees and sit on your heels, keeping your hips on your heels and lower your head on the mat while bringing your hands forward by your side. Then you squeeze your thighs against your chest.

‘Child Pose’

Downward Facing Dog Pose‘ (Adho Mukho Svanasana) – where you sit on your heels, stretch your arms forward on the mat and lower your head – this was an easy one.

‘Downward Facing Dog’, or Adho Mukho Svanasana

Talking about easy ones, ‘Triangle Pose‘ (Trikonasana) didn’t require much effort. This is where you stand with your feet wide apart, extending your right foot out (90 degrees) while keeping the leg closer to the torso, keeping your feet pressed against the ground and balancing your weight equally on both feet. We inhaled and as we breathed out, we bent our right arms to touch the ground while our left arms went up in the air, keeping our waists straight. Pretty relaxing.

The relaxing Trikonasana, or “Triangle Pose”

Meanwhile, I don’t know if it’s just me or being a newcomer, but some of the names sounded funny to me, and failing to keep up with the exercises was also a little bit funny.

It was most likely because my eyes were open almost every time because I had to first see the trainer’s example and follow. The rest of the room, their eyes were shut; for some it was like they were already somewhere on a landscape, the wind breezing through their hair during a sunset.

The funny part ended about 45 min later.

Chair Pose‘ (Utkatasana) – where you stand straight with your feet slightly apart, stretching your arms but not bending your elbows, and then inhale and bend your knees, pushing your pelvis down like sitting on a chair. All the while, keeping your hands parallel to the ground and back straight as we bent gradually, making sure our knees didn’t go beyond our toes. At that moment, my thighs started screaming for help. They shook thoroughly.

The ‘Chair Pose’

And finally, Naukasana (Boat Pose) – where you lie back on the mat with your feet together and hands by your side. We were told to take a deep breath and while exhaling gently, to lift our chests and feet off the ground as we stretched our hands in our feet’s direction. Our eyes, fingers and toes had to be in one line.

Boat Pose or Naukasana

The trainer then insisted on holding till one feels some tension in his/her navel area as the abdominal muscles begin to contract. “As you breathe out, come back to the ground and relax,” he said, in his gentle, manly voice. The back I was complaining about now got major heat and the thighs had just given up on asking for help, I think they were numb by this time.

When the session ended, I was a new person. It felt like waking up in an intense pursuit dream, but this time the aches were felt.

When the session ended, everyone took small towels and a sanitizing liquid to spray on the mats as we cleaned them, because they aren’t ours (but a couple of people had brought theirs).

After cleaning, I approached the trainer and he suggested that I should attend the sessions for a month so that I get used to it, suggesting mostly Monday’s sessions. Apparently, they are intensive, and they help people to get used to yoga’s fitness requirements, faster. As a result I am enthusiastically looking forward to next Monday’s session.

When I woke up the following day, my back was fine and I woke up 30 minutes later than my usual time. I had slept like a log that night. If you want to try a yoga session out, I would suggest to do so on a Friday, so that you won’t be late for your everyday routine.

If you have been curious, or yoga is your thing, but have always been discouraged by prices, place or schedule, I would recommend a visit at Ituze Mindfulness and Yoga Center. Go ahead, and take a look at their schedule.

As a sportsman of my caliber (at least, I used to tell myself), I used to think that a yoga session would not be that challenging, and I am thankful to the friend who referred me to this remedy.

Tony Parrish, former American football player for the 49ers, is an avid practitioner of yoga
Yoga is highly-recommended as a daily regimen for health and fitness for both men & women

{Disclaimer: I am not yet familiar with the technical terms, so I tried  my best to recall them and google the ones I didn’t know.}

{Featured image: courtesy of}

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