I hear this a lot, that there is a “stereotypical yogi”, which is a middle class white girl who loves juice and spin classes, is no bigger than a size 4 and has money to burn.
I read articles where people getting up in arms about yoga advertising, or people saying that they feel they can’t go to a specific studio because “hot girls in yoga pants” will be there, etc etc… then you have the whole backlash against it with the #yogaforeverybody or the #thisismyyogabody posts and the yoga war rages on.
I have never practiced yoga for anyone but myself.
When I first started yoga I would walk into the studio with my funky yoga mat and my old navy yoga pants (which I still have) and I never felt judged, because I wasn’t there to be judged, I was there to learn what I could from the precious moments that I had with my teacher. That time was precious so I didn’t waste it looking to see if I was the minority, I have not noticed how many white girls are in my classes, I do not compared myself or my outfit to other people in the studio. Because I’m busy doing yoga.
I will sometimes get comments when I walk out of a class where another student will come up to me and say “I saw that you really enjoyed your practice, you seemed to get lost in it.” or “I saw you smiling in triangle pose, you seemed to be happy to be there”. Thank you. I didn’t notice that I was doing those things or that you saw me, I am just happy to be on my mat, and yes I do get lost in my breath and in my focus. That’s Yoga. Everything else can fall away. The purpose of the yoga asana practice is to clear the mind and prepare you for meditation, it’s not to count how many ethnicities are in the room, or to figure out if anyone has the latest pair of Lulus on.
It baffles me when someone comes out of class and says “ugh that girl next to me was so annoying she had a loud breath the whole time and I couldn’t focus” You ma’am, have just wasted an hour where you could have gotten out of your own head and had a moving meditation on your mat but, instead you focused on the external and let it get in the way of your practice.
I’m not saying there aren’t times when it is distracting that the person next to you pulls out their phone to text, or they smell like they rode their bike from burning man straight to the studio, but all of that is part of your practice. Can you still focus? Can you still invest in yourself and act according to what you know is right for your practice? or are you consistently pulled out of your inner focus and using external circumstance as an excuse for why you weren’t able to accomplish what you came to your mat to do.
“Yoga is so expensive it’s for the upper class” No, Yoga is free. I had a home practice for a year before I set foot into a studio. I have a free 8 week course on youtube for beginners, Kino Macgregor has an amazing cache of free yoga wisdom up there! There are endless resources online for free, yoga is not about going to a studio, yoga is about you and your commitment to yourself. The end.
My thighs touch, I have breasts that prevent me from peacock pose, I love chicken, but in-spite of all of these things, I love yoga. And so I do my practice regardless of who or what is in the room with me, whether I’m teaching or practicing.
Yoga has never been about who’s in the room. Are you in the room? did you bring your brain with you? good, now train it to be still and focus internally and perhaps you’ll learn some truths about yourself and be able to take that knowledge with you off of your mat and create change for the better, internally first, and then externally. That’s yoga.
If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.