I took that shot as I awaited the start of my very first real yoga class.
I was nervous. Nervous enough that I almost didn’t get seated in the grass. Nervous enough that I almost left.
I had been through a couple of demonstration classes at Venture Outdoors Fest two weeks before; I did those with a friend, and I enjoyed them enough that I talked myself into following up with a studio. I met a woman who owned a studio in Bellevue, just a few minutes from my house at the festival, and geography made that choice a natural one. But I also picked up a flier for a summer-long series of classes — at Grandview Park on Mount Washington and in the little park at South Side Works — and those sounded interesting too.
They were interesting enough, in fact, that that’s where I headed for my first yoga class.
And I was fine with that decision. Until I got there.
I parked and walked up the crest of a hill in the park, the one you have to walk over to really get a look at the stunning view of Pittsburgh over there on the other side of the Mon.
I should have noticed the downtown skyline; what I noticed instead was all of the athletic-looking people — mostly women, and all at least 20 years younger than me — walking over the hill with me.
“I do not belong here,” I thought as I slowed my pace up the hill to a shuffle. “I am too old to start this. And I should just go home.”
I froze on the top of the hill, seconds away from turning around, chucking my brand new mat in the back of my car and heading to Carson Street to find a breakfast suitable for a fat old guy.
What kept me from leaving? I met the guy who was signing people in for the class, an instructor at BYS who appeared to be about my age and then seeing two friends who had already unrolled their mats and were waiting for the class to begin.
Seeing friends there was good. Seeing someone there who reminded me of, well, me — and a yoga teacher, no less — was even better. I was still nervous. But I stayed.
It’s been nearly two years since that class. There were more that summer, and more after than in the studio. Yoga — both in the broad sense and specifically with my teachers and my friends at what has become, without question, my studio — is now a pretty important part of my life.
And, oddly, as I approach this weekend, I’m feeling a little bit like I did when I walked up to that first class on June 1, 2014.
I’m signed up for three workshops with a visiting teacher on Saturday and Sunday. And I’m nervous about it.
The situation is a little different this time. Before that first class, I really had no idea what we would be doing. But I know pretty much exactly what’s coming in two of the three sessions, and one of those — Sunday’s shoulderstand workshop — is massively intimidating.
I know how this is going to go — we’ll break down poses into their component pieces, and I’ll be ready to do them or not — and this isn’t the same kind of doubt I felt two years ago. Part of what I’m feeling is excitement. But for the first time in a long time, I’m also feeling a little anxious about going to the studio as well.
No, I’m not going to turn around before I get to the top of the stairs at BYS. I’m not going to skip out on the workshop for a breakfast at Piper’s. Even if I’m feeling like a new guy again.