Apparently, breathing through your nose helps warm up your core (or at least maintain the temperature) while us mouth-breathers are cooling it down. For Ashtanga, you want to keep it warm - hence all the sweating. This makes sense to me since when I'm walking or getting too toasty, I notice I'm breathing through my mouth which is something I normally only do when I'm sleeping.
Anyways, back to the yoga. I did moves today I never would have guessed that I could have attempted. Sure there was your standard downward facing dog but then there was the upward facing dog, and some sort of plank position ... rather than me trying to describe it, watch this short video to get an idea of what we learned today.
Rene had us do a whole routine, beginning with breathing and stretching in a standing position working our way into this set of moves. We then repeated the procedure 3 more times. And each pose was held for a count of four breaths. Considering we're supposed to be breathing very deeply (known as Ujjayi), each pose seemed to last forever.
I'm very proud of myself for a number of reasons. First - I went. I signed up for something and actually did it. For someone who doesn't always follow through, this is a good step. Secondly - I felt only slightly self conscious. I'm always aware of how I think other folks see me and what they think about how I look (who knew I was so insecure?!) and yet, there I was: sweating, breathing heavy, all my bulgy bits jammed into some spandex and a bright green bandana covering my dome...and I was feeling groovy. It helped that our class consisted of only 6 people, three of whom were men! Plenty of one on one with the instructor if necessary and easy for her to check on our form. Thirdly, it seemed she never had to correct my form. Ok, once because I had laced my fingers behind incorrectly. I found it difficult to believe that I was doing some of these correctly but...there you go. Finally, I not only went but I gave it my all! I attempted all four full routines and made it through all of them except for the last downward dog portion of the final set. And even then, I simply moved into a different active pose until my arms had recovered enough to salute the sun with the bum once again (don't laugh...have you ever seen the downward dog position?). My plank positions were, to be fair, modified positions because I just don't have the upper body strength but so were everyone else's. Only one of the guys managed to do the full position so I'm very proud. Who knows what will happen by the end of the course?
I am starting to feel my back muscles (lower and upper) as well as my upper arms tightening up now that I'm home and relaxing but I'm popping out the heating pad shortly. It just means that I used muscles that I don't normally put into action. WOOO HOOOo!