First of all, thank you for all of your positive feedback about this series last week. I’m so thrilled that you guys like the idea and even had suggestions for future topics! To be honest, I almost wrote about a few of them for this second post, but I had an interesting experience that has been on my mind all week. Before I tell you all the backstory, the moral of the story is this:
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Okay, I’ll back up.
As you guys know from my Fitness Recaps, I’ve been taking a bit of a break from yoga. It’s not that I don’t love it anymore, I have just been enjoying pushing myself with other forms of exercise. But now that I’m far away from my usual studios, I’m determined to find a yoga studio/teacher that inspires me again! So last week, I listened when my body and mind were both craving a good yoga class. You know, the kind when you get lost in the flow and you feel totally rejuvenated after?
So, I looked at my list of studios I’ve been wanting to try and showed up for a Vinyasa class. The teacher asked about my experience and I told her I’ve been practicing for a long time and I’m certified, so I should be able to keep up. It didn’t even cross my mind to tell her I hadn’t practiced in a while or justify what my body felt capable of that day. Why would I, right?
Well, turns out I wasn’t in for a Vinyasa flow at all, instead it was a slightly Vinyasa-influenced Ashtanga class. We made our way into different poses, holding for 5 breaths in each one before letting it go – which is totally cool if that’s what you like, it’s just not my jam. But what really threw me was how all of a sudden we were moving from dolphin pose to Pincha Mayurasana (an inversion where you balance on your forearms with your head lifted off the ground). This pose was not a part of my practice, even when I was practicing all the time. Plus, the whole approach to this very difficult pose felt strange and a little isolating to me. Am I a bad yogi for not being able to pop up into it like it’s nothing?
Shortly after that…
The teacher literally said out loud “Ohhh guys, we have to work on your jump backs” to the small class. And that strange feeling I felt kicking up and falling out of Pincha Mayurasana all of a sudden felt justified. I felt judged… in a yoga class! What was happening?!
Between that and the end of class, there were a few more poses that didn’t feel good in my body (my hips rarely feel good in lotus pose), or that I couldn’t do (scale pose has always been hard for me – short arms!), and instead of working through tips or modifications, I just felt inadequate. Needless to say, after a very short savasana followed by a mention of namaste, I got out of that classroom as fast as I could.
But here’s the thing…
I didn’t want to write this post to complain about a teacher/studio. I don’t even want to share where it was, because you might LOVE Ashtanga yoga and that whole style. Namaste! Instead, I wanted to share this story with you because I realized something that, ironically, I learned from yoga. Yoga is about accepting exactly where you are at any given moment on any given day. It’s our chance to notice without judgment and try without fear of failure. It helps you gain awareness of your body and your mind’s connection to your body. You learn what is good for your body one day versus another, while also learning how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. It is all of that, and it is most certainly NOT meant to make you feel bad about yourself.
Once I reconnected with those lessons, I remembered that no one can make me feel inferior but myself. And maybe it wasn’t so much about the teacher or the class, as it was my own insecurities convincing me that I was being judged or I should be judged. But honestly, who actually cares that I took time off from yoga? Or that I can’t do every crazy inversion or I’m not as flexible as I used to be? In the grand scheme of life, those things are so insignificant. So, I’m taking this whole experience as a reminder that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. There is no right or wrong, ahead or behind. (But before I go on that tangent, I’ll save that for another Mindful Monday ?)
Can you relate?
Even if you can’t relate to this story literally, hopefully you can relate to the main point of it all. If so, I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below! If you prefer a more private forum, we can also chat about it in my Lake Shore Lady Community Group on Facebook.