My misadventures as a yoga rookie
by James Phillips
Nov 23, 2012 | 1644 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
James Phillips
James Phillips
“Have you ever thought about finding ways to lower your stress level?”

My doctor asked me that a few weeks back.

I’ve always considered myself as a person who handles stress fairly well, but my doc seemed to think I might not be handling life’s pressures as well as I should.

After hearing his question, I immediately said, “What do you think about yoga?”

My doctor said that he thought that would be a perfect way to reduce stress.

Why was yoga the first thing that popped in my mind when asked about ways to reduce stress?

My aunt, Jilda Watson, is a certified yoga instructor. For years, I’ve heard her emphasize the positive impacts of yoga, and the relief of stress is often one of the first positives she mentions.

In the past, I’ve tried some “in-home” yoga, but that was only for a short time when Andrea was struggling with some back issues during pregnancy. Jilda had sent a couple of yoga DVDs home with her, and I promised to participate with her. The yoga actually did relieve some of her back pain.

After my doctor’s appointment, I called Andrea and said, “we’re all going to Jilda’s next yoga class.”

Jilda teaches a free yoga class on Mondays at the Sumiton Community Center. A couple of weeks ago, the Phillips family made our first appearance.

If we’re going somewhere as a family, we are generally at least five minutes late. Our first yoga class was no exception.

As we walked in, I noticed everyone in the room turn and look. I can only imagine what was running through their minds. It was probably something like, “Oh my goodness. I came here to relieve stress and these turkeys just brought four little kids to yoga class.”

We grabbed up our mats and began to participate. I’ve always been concerned about doing yoga in public. The few times I tried DVD yoga, the stretching and breathing seemed to awaken something inside my stomach. Without being too gross, yoga seemed to be a great way to alleviate trapped gas. That was my main concern for trying yoga in public.

To my surprise, that problem never happened during my first class.

Also to my surprise, my children absolutely loved the class.

Breeze and Daisy, ages 7 and 5, did their best to emulate their great aunt. Both of them did a good job.

The surprise superstar of the class was Stone, our 10-year-old son. He performed each stretch flawlessly and said he loved the class. Stone even asked if we could incorporate yoga into some of our sports team practices.

I honestly thought the trouble child would be Joy, our 1-year-old.

Who brings a 1-year-old to a yoga class?

I know. It sounds pretty stupid, but she actually enjoyed herself and wasn’t much trouble. She crawled around and giggled for most of the time.

The relaxation point of the class — or nap time as I call it — was the biggest shocker of the first class for me. During that part of class, everything gets quiet and soft music plays. Jilda, in a soft, quiet voice, does a great job of talking you into a relaxed state. Some of what she says is kind of wacky, like telling you to imagine a beautiful, red rose on your chest, but it works. I was very relaxed and could have probably fallen asleep. All I needed was a blanket, which was offered to me, but I just thought it was too strange to cuddle up under a blanket amidst a bunch of strangers.

For the past two weeks, we’ve made it to yoga class and had a great time. Luckily, my worst fear still hasn’t struck, but I am going to try to stay at the back of the class in case it does. I also tried a blanket during the second class, and I’ve got to admit, relaxation time was pretty awesome. I almost fell asleep.

If you’re looking for a way to get a little extra exercise and relieve some stress, give the free yoga class at the Sumiton Community Center a try. It’s each Monday night, and try to be there by 7 p.m., and I’ll see you about 7:05.

James Phillips is Editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at 205-221-2840 or