Yesterday marked my first formal yoga class ever. I took an introductory level Ashtanga class at a well-regarded local studio. I was the last one to arrive (but wasn't late) and I found a cozy corner on the floor near the radiator. Of the 20-plus people in the class, I was the only guy. Being the sole male and a beginner to boot was a bit intimidating, but I stayed relaxed and tried to focus on the instructor (a very easy target upon which to focus, if you catch my drift). I had spoken with her briefly before class, told her I'm a semi-injured runner seeking greater hip strength and flexibility (along with general body awareness and perhaps even some enhanced inner peace) and she told me that she's training for her first half-marathon. We agreed that if she gets me through yoga, I'll help her train for her fall race. It was a good start.
Although billed as a Level I class, there was a clear range of ability in the room. I think a couple of others were new like me, and certainly not everyone - including me - could do every posture correctly. Our instructor was great about offering variations in order to make a given move or posture easier or more challenging, depending on our preferences. I found that I have decent flexibility for the most part, but that some aspects of the routine were very rigorous.
As we went through different series of movements, my leg would occasionally buckle from fatigue. I sweat profusely, something my young yoga neighbor must have found extremely off-putting. The instructor came over a few times during the 90-minute class to tweak my leg or arm position, check my hips or otherwise ensure that my form was correct. She told me later she usually comes over more often with the newbies, but that I seemed to be catching on quickly. All the running-related stretching and consistent core work seems to have given me a decent yoga "base".
The plan now is to figure out how to do yoga at least twice a week, either on non-running or easy running days. Once I get better at it, then I won't need to work it in based on available class schedules, and can instead do it on my own at home in the early morning or after the kids go to bed. In addition to yoga, I'll be doing some very specific hip exercises, designed to strengthen my weak areas and to correct some of the muscle imbalances that have resulted from running through the various hip-related troubles I've had in the past couple of years.