While recently enjoying a lovely weekend with my parents and sisters, I was struck again by my exclusion from the family way of fitness. My mom and sisters look like Athleta models. They are tall, toned, strong, and have impeccable posture. I am also tall, but I am weak and stiff. When I have joined them in yoga classes, I am the inflexible duckling, and they are perfect yoga swans. (Grace is particularly intimidating, as she is a licensed yoga instructor, and just about everyone looks like a toad next to her.) On Saturday morning, the three of them went to an intensive yoga class and cajoled me to join them, but I went with Dad and Dublin, the neighbor’s dog, to drop off stuff at the dump instead (because I will always choose dogs and dumps over fitness).
But I started thinking about yoga again. And feeling like I should try it, even though I am so intimidated and so weak. (I can’t even touch my toes, something I have always blamed on my extra-long legs, but which I now accept as a cop-out.) I asked my friend James, a yoga instructor in town, for advice, and he wrote such a forthright and gracious response that it nearly brought tears to my eyes.
Yoga appeals to me because it isn’t supposed to be aggressive or competitive — qualities which have always made me despise the American mentality toward exercise, weight loss, and gym culture. I am not trying to “get jacked,” lose 30 pounds, or strain my body to meet a cultural objective. Rather, I’d like to get to know my body better. To be strong. To be confident.
I have shyly started practicing yoga at home, and thanks to James’s advice, I have scouted some studios I’d like to visit for classes and instruction. I fully recognize that I’m at least 20 years late to the yoga bandwagon, but I hope it’s not too late for me on the whole, to gradually become flexible and strong.
Have you ventured into yoga? What have you found?
6 thoughts on “Shyly venturing into yoga”
I feel you. I’ve never been able to touch my toes, and I’ve yet to get my heels on the floor during down dog (it might never happen, actually). I started to feel more confident when I took a class with an instructor who taught Iyengar yoga — the heavy use of props made me feel so much better because I realized I could get as much benefit out of the practice even though I wasn’t super flexible. I also learned that it’s important to push yourself to improve, but rushing into a pose you’re not comfortable with doesn’t help. I hope you find a class/instructor that you like! Good luck.
I’m far from young or long limbed 😦 but I do what I can with my body and have learnt to enjoy stretching my limits 1 mm at a time! Too many yoga classes are for trendy egotists but your attitude is the right one . AGree with Ivy above – don’t be too proud to use props to start with and ENJOY yourself
Find a comfy, nurturing yoga instructor and stay with that person, even if you have to follow them around to studios a bit. Some yoga traditions support working with “with the body you have” rather than “making the body you have” fit to the practice. Gary Kraftsow is a good source for the former. I started with Hatha yoga years ago and was discouraged. Later I started with a more flexible Viniyoga (pun intended) teacher who studies under Gary and have been with her for 17 years. It does make a difference. Best of luck….in good yoga there should be no comparing to others!!!!
Your dogs will love practicing with you too…I bet. 🙂
It’s never too late to start yoga. If you can find a teacher and studio you feel comfortable in, you’ll never regret starting! Namaste 🙂
I completely agree with your thoughts on yoga. I am also tall and have never been athletic, so I tried yoga because it seemed like the most accepting way to exercise. I truly do notice my whole body feels different after a class. It’s a beautiful exercise
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