If Yoga Is For Every Body, Why Do I Feel So Out of Place In A Public Yoga Class?
Yoga is for Every Body. However a quick browse through a yoga magazine, or a quick search of yoga on Google Images, would lead us to believe that yoga is for skinny, mini, twenty somethings. As a yoga practitioner, I actually began practicing yoga in my twenties. During those years, yoga was about fitness and flexibility. I also noticed that I felt happier, had more energy, and recovered from stressful situations more quickly.
As I entered into my 30’s, yoga became more about easing aches and pains, and releasing stress. I began to move deeper into my practice. I had the sense that my yoga practice was evolving as my mind and body were also evolving. I started to focus more on alignment, balance, moving deeper into mindfulness. Yoga was no longer about fitness, it was about wholeness.
Life changes such as moving cross country twice, getting married, career changes, and having a child, shifted me out of teaching yoga for a number of years. I returned to practicing yoga after becoming a new mom. I was approaching my early 40's. I was almost 200 pounds. I was struggling with intense pain in my neck, shoulders, back and hips. I was recovering from a c-section and adjusting to living in a bigger body than I was used to living in. Coming back to yoga during this time in my life, was the best thing that I could have done for my physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
During this season of my life, I remember attending yoga classes at a public yoga studio, and combating the negative thoughts about my body, my physical ability, and the changes that I was experiencing as a new mom. I was still very flexible, but my strength was lacking in some areas, particularly my core strength. About a year after my son was born, I felt this tremendous pull to get back into teaching yoga. So I signed up for a 200 hour Yoga Works Teacher Training. During this 6 month long training, I had the opportunity to re-acquaint myself with my body, my mind, and my spirit. It was during Yoga Teacher Training, that I noticed the need for a yoga teacher who specialized in working with women who are rediscovering the love of their body during its evolution. Our bodies are meant to change, and so is our yoga practice.
As a woman, who is living with more experience in my body, has undergone surgery, and is dealing with aches and pains on a daily basis, my yoga practice had to change to meet my new reality. My days of Vinyasa flow yoga were behind me. I was drawn to spend more time in a given pose. I really listened and become intimately acquainted with what my body needed in each yoga pose. I learned to develop a more integrated approach to my wellness through yoga. It was during my own exploration of what my “new body” needed, that I realized my own Dharma, my own life’s purpose, or my path as a yoga teacher. My passion is to help women rediscover their body and restore the joy of living in their body.
Yoga helped me to find confidence in my body, to recognize my body's ability to heal, and to confront challenges with steadiness and strength. As a yoga teacher, it is my Sankalpa (my heartfelt desire or intention), to help women tap into their bodies ability to heal by guiding them along the path of yoga.
My yoga teaching is done through the lens of my own experience of being in a class and not being able to do what the teacher instructed. I remember the negative thoughts that would flood my mind, and the tears that would fill my eyes when I labeled my body as a failure. My passion is to work with women one-on-one, to help them overcome the mental roadblocks that stand in the way of them committing to a personal yoga practice. It is this deep conviction that led me to start working more one-on-one with women, to offer them a personalized yoga program that fits their needs, abilities, and desires.
Yoga is for every body, but everybody may not feel comfortable in a public yoga class.
Traditionally, the path of yoga has been passed down from teacher to student in an mentorship or coaching setting. Where the student meets with the teacher, individually, 3 or more times per week, and the teacher crafts the lessons to fit the needs of the student. As the needs of the student changes or progresses, the lessons offered will also progress. Ideally, the practice of yoga, once learned can become a private, personal, at home practice, in which the student is empowered to continue their yoga practice on their own.
As yoga entered the Western World, large public classes became more of the norm, and the tradition of teacher to student impartation of yoga has become less popular. However, in my own experience as a yoga teacher, more and more, students have been stopping me after class to ask for individual yoga lessons to help them learn how to work with certain conditions or rehabilitate certain regions of the body after injuries.
Yoga is a whole body wellness system that is meant to evolve and adapt as your body and mind also evolve. Yoga is a practice that is meant to be personal and daily. The guidance of a highly trained yoga teacher is key to establishing a solid yoga practice that can then be further developed by the student at home.
So if you are a person who feels intimidated by skinny, mini, yoga images, who feels like you don’t belong in a public yoga class, and yet you still want to begin practicing yoga, then maybe your path to yoga needs to be personal and private. Maybe private yoga is right for you.