Last night I had a new student in class- I could tell that he had something going on- anxiety, trepidation – I wasn’t sure what. I kept a close eye and checked in with him throughout class. Afterward, he was the last to leave, and I asked him if he was all right. He replied that he was under a lot of stress, and had been going to his gym for yoga classes. The gym yoga only added to his stress, saying that it was overstimulating and competitive, and that he was doing a lot of unhealthy comparison to the other students in class, which was making him feel less than.
There is some interesting coincidence here, in that our new marketing campaign is the phrase “Yoga is Every Body”. In our brainstorming sessions, these are the things we talked about that people experience all the time in the current yoga environment. Students walk into a yoga class and feel intimidated, body shamed, or that they don’t fit in to the vibe. We’ve heard many sad stories about this – from “I thought I couldn’t do yoga because I didn’t fit into the clothes”, “it was so fast I couldn’t keep up”, or “so hot that I was going to pass out”. At the hospital where I teach, I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to reassure patients that they don’t have to be flexible to do yoga, and that all the extra “woo” – crystals, incense, essential oils, and music- are not really part of yoga. Sometimes I wonder how many people have walked away from one negative experience saying that yoga is not for me. These misconceptions are the reason many people miss out on an experience that could quite possibly change their lives for the better.
At Spirit House Yoga, what you will see when you come to class are students and instructors of all ages, abilities, and body types. You won’t see a room full of fit 20-year-old women in pony tails, handstands in the middle of the room, or any potentially risky postures being taught. We teach to who is in the room, offering individualized instructions and modifications for every student. You can’t be the teacher at the front of the room engrossed in her own practice and do that. We’ve learned how to accommodate students with injuries, limitations, auto-immune issues, and post-surgical recovery. We welcome every body – all are welcome just by walking through our door. That is often the hardest part. Every journey starts with one step – the step towards yourself. From there, anything is possible.