Hi everyone! As you’re aware if you read my 2016 goals blog post, one of my big goals is to do more cross training each week. Lately, I’ve been doing as much yoga as I can! It’s such an awesome workout that also doubles as a stress reliever, so it’s a great addition to my weekly workouts. In my quest to do more yoga, I’ve been trying out new yoga classes at my gym. Most of the classes are on the schedule as simply “Yoga” with no description of what kind of yoga it will be, so it’s always a bit of an adventure when I step into a new yoga class. One day last week, I was up a bit earlier than usual and realized that I could make it to an 8:00 am yoga class at the gym across the street from me before work.
I got there a few minutes before 8:00 and as I rolled out my mat I began looking around the room and noticed something very interesting: I was the only person under the age of 60 years old in the class. Normally there are people in my classes of all ages, body types, yoga experience, etc. and I love being in such diverse classes practicing with so many different yogis! But when I’m the only one who is decades younger than anyone else, it’s a bit of a strange feeling. I hate to admit this, but I began to feel like I was the odd one out and that I didn’t belong there. I even wondered if somehow I’d missed the memo that this yoga class was for people of a certain age, and wondered if I should leave because I wasn’t supposed to even be there. But instead, I closed my eyes and set an intention for my practice: to take something new away from my experience in this class.
Am I about to step off the back of my mat and go home? No way!
Once class started, I forgot all about my age and the difference between me and everyone else. I was pleasantly surprised by the teacher’s plan for our practice! It was a vinyasa flow class with lots of long, easy stretches mixed in that felt so good. She played a slow, instrumental jazz piano CD throughout the practice and finished by playing “Imagine” by the Beatles during savasana. It was unlike any other class I’ve ever taken at that gym, and I really liked it! I was so glad I’d stayed for the class because it would have been a shame to miss out on such a unique experience.
It made me think about practicing yoga in a class setting. Yoga should be an individual practice focused only on yourself and how your body feels that day. Usually when I’m in class the only time I’m looking at other people is when I’m double checking how to do a pose if I can’t see the instructor well, and the rest of the time I’m so focused on trying to keep my breathing steady and my body upright. But in class last week I broke the cardinal rule of yoga: Do not focus on anyone but yourself. And I learned a pretty good lesson from it! If I’d left that class because of my own self-made discomfort about being the youngest person in the room, I would have missed out on a really great class. I can imagine there are lots of people who have felt the same way I have for one reason or another – they were the least flexible (me, always me), largest, smallest, only guy, only girl, oldest, youngest, etc. But you’re not there for anyone else but yourself, and chances are no one else is even looking at you anyways. So next time you feel like you’re sticking out in yoga class, just turn your focus inward and rock that yoga class!
Have you ever felt like the odd one out in yoga class? Did you stay or go? Be honest: how often do you find yourself looking at others in yoga class, especially when you’re new?