By Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman

Last week I mentioned that I realized that I really needed a place that would be willing to walk me through the various poses from a complete beginner’s point of view. I did some research via the web and talking to various people. I found a place!

Now first I should back up and mentioned my parameters. I live in Lancaster County, PA so I did want something close because I know me. If I found the most awesome place but it was more than say a 15-minute drive, I would find every excuse to skip. I wanted a small class setting so I would hopefully feel less awkward than a large class, plus I know I could use a little extra attention from the instructor. Parking had to be easy. I love that Lancaster City is essentially 15 minutes away but there have been times, especially when I go into class at PCA&D, that I have driven around for a half hour trying to find a parking spot. Parking needed to be easy.

All that said, I found The Yoga Room.

It is located within the Shoppes at Kissel Hill in Manheim Township. Monday nights, at the moment, is a Beginner’s Class. I had spoken to the instructor via emails but I had not met her until this past Monday. I got there early and there was another class going on inside so I kind of hung out in the foyer, not really knowing what to do. By the way, there are some comfy seats down the hall if you should come and get there early.

Laurie Garrett– the instructor – has this gentle soothing voice and the music she played was very relaxing. It was not loud and bouncing like the music in the yoga class I tried before in a local gym. That music made me feel like I had been in a hurry up and keep pace class. Laurie’s music made me feel relaxed before my class even began!

The class was slow moving. It was myself and one other woman, so we had plenty of personal attention to detail, which is one reason I chose this class. Normally this is a four-week course but she let me join halfway through. The course is designed to make the new student familiar with correct alignment and breathing. It is a prelude to the other classes, which she explained. She went through the use of blocks and other supports used commonly in yoga.

The Yoga Room does offer several levels of yoga classes. I am not going into all of them here since this is about my journey but you may check out the website at

So time to roll our my mat and get started moving, right? No. I rolled out my mat and we all sat. Still. My mat was nothing special. I had picked it up awhile back at “that other place” and it was still in the wrapper until I left for class. It is an Ombre Yoga Mat 24” x 68” and it is a boring gray. It is cushioned and should ease stress on my joints and tendons. It is lightweight and very portable, though I should get a mat bag. The only complaint I have about my mat is that, like so many other things anymore, it was made in China. So, if you know of a local place that makes yoga mats, I would love to hear about them!

We began, as I said, by sitting. I think she called this the Easy Pose, or maybe should just meant it was easy. Basically, we sat with our legs crisscrossed, hands resting on our knees. Breathing in deep. Exhaling. Staring at my awkward self in all those mirrors. I get it – the mirrors help you see how your pose looks but they are still a little intimidating for those of us who are not thrilled with our appearance.

I forget the order of the other poses. We did the Cat Pose which flowed into the Cow Pose. We did the Chair Pose and the Warrior Pose. The Cat Pose massages the spine and the organs in your belly, while the Cow warms the spine gently. The Chair is great for the diaphragm and heart while it clearly works the arms and legs. The Warrior was a little harder for me. My feet just would not cooperate! A great reference, by the way, for these poses and more is The Yoga Journal.

yoga down dogAt some point towards the end of class, we did the Downward Facing Dog. By that time, my body was feeling things it hasn’t in quite a long time. I was ready for the Corpse Pose!

One of the last poses we did – I forget the name – looked more like I was in the birthing room again. I knew there was a reason I chose a C-section. How awkward looking and by this time, it hurt my lower back/spine putting that pressure there. I don’t mean that I was hurt but rather one reason I see a chiropractor on a regular basis and want to do yoga now is because of regular back pain.

At times I felt like I should run away and wait til I loose some weight so these poses are less … ugly. A big reason I am doing this though is that I start to gain some energy so that I can do other things and then I will be able to loose the weight. I do also realize that this weight did not come on overnight so it won’t be getting off over one night or one exercise routine.

And so continues my new mindset and my new life …

Photo Credit: Metro