THE BLOG
10/14/2013 10:41 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Why I Sneaked Out of My First Yoga Class

Five months after the birth of my second child I was not in a good place. I was struggling with depression and my inability to lose the baby weight only exacerbated that. I felt sure that if I could just slim down I would finally feel happy again. I had tried nearly everything but the scale refused to budge. When a friend suggested yoga I decided to do a little research and the more I read the more certain I became that not only would yoga give me a smokin' hot bod, but spiritual enlightenment.

Yoga was going to fix my life.

Coincidentally I had just gotten a sales job at an exclusive private gym, which gave me free access to all group classes, including yoga. I bought a mat, centered my chi (put on a sports bra) and walked into my first class. In my excitement I was the first person in the studio, a clean open space that smelled like fresh paint. I rolled out my mat and settled in, open and excited to be reborn. The class soon filled with women sporting French-tipped acrylic nails, clutching Starbucks lattes with fingers wearing diamond rings as big as my face. Clad in nearly identical Lululemon ensembles, full makeup and fake breasts pushed up to their clavicles, these women were not what I had envisioned as the typical yoga student. I looked down at my old gym shorts, cut-off tank top and sagging post-baby breasts and suddenly felt inadequate.

While the Real Housewives of Vinyasa gossiped and texted, I took a deep breath and tried to quell the growing sense of disappointment in my belly. I reminded myself that yoga wasn't about appearance or competition and more importantly, there was no time to leave. As if on cue the door opened and the instructor walked in. What I saw was no Yogi Bhajan or Swami Vivekananda. Tall, tan, smiling with huge, beautiful teeth nearly radioactive in brightness, she flicked a cascade of perfect blonde extensions from her face as she cleared her throat.

Pamela Anderson was about to teach me yoga.

As everyone settled onto their mats she set up a large gong and turned on quiet music I soon recognized to be acoustic versions of the current Top 40. I glanced at the clock. Fifty five minutes to go. After some initial stretching we began sun salutations. I quickly got into the rhythm of the movements and halfway through the class had forgotten everyone around me. My mind was clear, the cloud above me temporarily lifted. I focused on my breath and nothing else and for the first time in a long time felt really good. We were just beginning floor poses when the instructor directed us to relax into Savasana (corpse pose). I relaxed back into a blissful puddle of exhaustion.

If the bang of the gong wasn't enough to snap me out of deep rest, the painful but enthusiastic singing that came next did the trick. I assume it was her version of Hindustani, but with a little Christina Aguilera on the side. I'm not sure what she was saying and I'm not convinced she did either. At one point it sounded as though she was simply adding syllables to "namaste." I looked around the room in bewilderment. How were all these women still so relaxed? What had been in those Starbucks? (And where could I get some?) I looked at the clock. Thirteen minutes to go.

I lasted three.

I snuck out of class on all fours, with all the stealth of a blind wounded animal weaving through a sea of Louis Vuitton bags and semi-conscious women. No spiritual enlightenment, no rebirth.

There was only one thing left to do.

As I walked through the brightly lit aisles of Target with my popcorn and Diet Coke, I spotted a misplaced Jillian Michaels yoga DVD and, stopping to add it to my cart, had the overwhelming certainty that everything was going to be okay.

I eventually did find a smaller studio and soon began to notice myself changing, becoming a happier, more confident person. The mindfulness I practiced in yoga spilled over into other aspects of my life, from how I ate to how I treated people and responded to stress. Prior to yoga I obsessed over my weight, believing it to be the cause of my unhappiness. However, it was only when I started to focus on my happiness and well-being that I finally lost weight. I've been practicing yoga now for 7 years and while it didn't "fix my life," it has benefited it tremendously.

For more by Michele Redmon, click here.

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