Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Yoga and Me

I have an on-again, off-again relationship with yoga, and right now yoga and I are back on.

Hopefully for good. I like yoga. It's a great workout, and it's a great workout in a different way than most of my other workouts.

In the past there have been reasons why, despite my best intentions, I haven't stuck with yoga -- mostly logistical (moving around a lot and having to find yoga classes; having a chaotic schedule and no time to attend). There's also another reason, but I won't get into that yet.

Anyway, knock on wood, I'm in a groove right now in life and have the opportunity to immerse myself back into yoga. So in my first class back I'm taking my shoes off, setting up my mat and feeling very relaxed. The yoga instructor walks in and, by a happy coincidence, I happen to know her because she and I used to go to the same gym a few years ago.

This is going really great. And then a woman comes up to me:

"You know," she starts to say, "Every time we get a guy in this class..."

Therein lies the other reason I've been sporadic with yoga: whenever I attend a yoga class I am, almost without fail, the only male in attendance.

And this always makes me incredibly self-conscious. Do they think I'm really here to find women to hit on? I'm not. I'm here to work out. But then I start to convince myself that everyone else thinks otherwise, and no matter how much the rational side of me knows that's ridiculous -- they're all here to work out too and couldn't care less what gender I am -- my self-consciousness spirals out of control and sometimes makes me feel too awkward for yoga.

I'm getting that feeling again, where I think, forget it, and walk out of class, when the woman finishes her train of thought.

"...Every time we get a guy in this class, he never takes his socks off."

I scan the room. Indeed, everyone else in this class is barefoot. Me, I have my socks on. I'm not much of a foot exhibitionist, I guess. When it comes to foot image, I can be pretty modest.

Then I looked back at the woman, shrugged my shoulders and said, "We'll see how it goes tonight. Maybe next time."

No, I wasn't ready to bare my feet in that first class. But last night I went back for Class #2, and the first thing I did after rolling out my mat was whip off my socks. Life's too short to worry about what people think of my feet, or what people think about me taking yoga, regardless of what the gender composition of the class is. I'm doing this for me.

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