Weather yesterday morning: icky and rainy. Mood inside Athleta: cheerful. On Thursday morning, energetic yoga expert Melissa Gutierrez took a class full of eager students through their poses. As a newbie yogi currently suffering from super-tight calves and an inflamed supraspinatus (that is, a busted shoulder), I was somewhat nervous about the class. Luckily, Melissa’s sunny demeanor and yoga mastery put me at ease.
First, Melissa made sure we were breathing correctly. (She first turned to yoga to help manage her asthma, so she really knows her breathwork.) I learned how to expand my ribs by inhaling. My internal organs adjusted accordingly.
But this wasn’t just a “how to breathe” class. The flow was soon filled with a chorus of moans and muttered imprecations as our muscles were stretched and challenged by Melissa’s deep knee bends and leg raises. I felt pride when I was able to do a rather complicated tree pose after Melissa showed us how to open our hips.
Through it all, Melissa was entirely supportive and encouraging. “Don’t worry about doing what I do. I do this every single day!” she said when we failed to emulate her super-limber asanas and stumbled against the racks of running jackets. Melissa gave me several adjustments during the class to ease pressure on my aching shoulder; it was rather amazing how she managed to watch each and every person in the class, making adjustments and suggestions as necessary. (I especially appreciated the shoulder massage as I melted into child’s pose!)
Afterward, I felt, to my surprise, both relaxed and energetic. My shoulder felt better too. The smiles around me showed that I was not alone.