Back to the Matt, or “Confessions of a Born Again Yogi”

Posted: March 31, 2017 in Yoga
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(Disclaimer:  I’m not really confident that I’ve articulated myself well in this post but I have committed myself to 100% transparency within these blog pages for good and for bad, so please continue on with a grain of salt.  My apologies in advance if I upset or insult any of my fellow sensitive yogi’s.)

Over the past 2-3 years I’ve developed this love- hate relationship with yoga.  Where I used to do it on a near daily basis and genuinely believed it was a major contributor to me doing so well in my past long distance triathlon events, I’ve really struggled to get back to practicing regularly.

I’ve tried and failed on few occasions now (click HERE and HERE) to incorporate a regular yoga session into my weekly training schedule.  But miss it as I do from time to time, truthfully, I’ve been really nervous – skeptical even – about getting back into it so I’ve never really committed myself to making it a reality.  I’m not even 100% sure why.

Then recently a friend (Vanessa) advertised that she would be leading a drop-in class at a new studio in Fort Erie, On the Mat and I thought to myself, “Okay, let’s give this another shot”.

How bad could it be?

And, honestly, it wasn’t bad at all.

Awesome actually.

I thoroughly enjoyed the class and she was awesome (she played great music completely void of the traditional New Age-y whale song bullshit), however, I also rediscovered one of the reasons why I think I became so disconnected with yoga in the first place: it makes me feel awkward.

Allow me to explain a bit more.

Have you ever had to join a new school in the middle of the school year?  I have and it’s awkward.  Suddenly you’re air dropped into this new room with all new faces and where bonds and relationships have already been formed and cultivated.  You’re immediately the outcast, the unknown…the outsider.

Now, kids being the cruel little monsters they are don’t make it any easier does it?  Often times (it was with me anyway), there is a hazing phase before you transgress to becoming one of the recognized collective and this process can take weeks to months before you’re truly accepted.

Yoga (for a guy anyway) can be just like that.

Of course, as an adult now no one is going to throw pudding in my face or threaten to meet me at the Four-Way stop after class to bash my face into pulp.  But let’s just say that I don’t anticipate a lot of smiles and friendly ‘hello’s’ either.

Suddenly this “Beer Yoga” (click HERE) was beginning to sound a lot more enticing.

Hell, I bet the baby goats in “Goat Yoga” (click HERE) wouldn’t be so off-ish would they?

When I first pulled up outside the Fort Erie studio I looked through the front window as the first class was wrapping up, I saw all your stereotypical henna-ed, dolphin tattooed Barbie Doll cuties in their fancy Lululmeon garb and I absolutely panicked.

Honestly.

Full on panic.

I almost pulled away and went home (for the record, I’m glad I didn’t).

Being a little early, once the class cleared out I ventured in when while it was quiet said my hello to the instructor (whom I already know well – Hi Vanessa!), paid my $10 and proceeded to set up my mat and await the next participants to arrive.

Easy-peasy, right?

But here’s where it got a little weird.

There I am, sitting on my mat in the middle of the room, the new guy, the outsider, and in comes the next wave of young spandex-clad yoga bunnies, who suddenly hesitate for a split second when they see the new face…a bearded one at that.  Reading their expressions, it’s as if they think they’ve just walked into the wrong place or something.  In an attempt to assimilate myself I smile politely but, immediately, their eyes are diverted to the floor or the other side of the room; away from the strange bearded intruder.

Shit.

Here we go again.

For the next 10-15 minutes I sit there pretending not to notice everyone else pretending not to notice me as they set up their mats pretty much as far away from me as they can get along the periphery of the class until, I’m this sole island of awkward masculinity in the middle of the room with no immediate neighbor.

I have suddenly become the yoga equivalent of Guam.

I don’t care what anyone says:  this makes me feel weird.

As I view it, yoga tends to be a very female-centric practice and being the sole dude in the studio doesn’t often come without its awkward moments.  And I get it, the girls are trying not be objectified, or whatever it is they’re overtly concerned with these days but when did not returning a friendly gesture become normal practice?

I realize that in comparison, I look like Shrek with more facial hair but, geez Louise, c’mon girls!

Be nice already.

There’s “No judgement in yoga”, right?

Ha.

Anyway, I signed up for a 10 class pass which I hoped would more successfully re-open the door to my rebuilding a regular practice once again.

And it did.

I went faithfully each week and I now feel stronger, my nagging injuries from the New Year are gone and I’m ready to transition into my long distance phase of training outside beginning next month (tomorrow).

So overall, getting back into this yoga thing once again was a big success for me and one I’m not parting with again with some disappointment.

But, alas, there is only so much time in the day…week…month.

You get the idea.

Hopefully, I’d like to keep the practice up once a week on my own (or at the YMCA) but I just don’t have the flexibility to commit to a full on membership at the moment.

But I’ll be back.

Oh, and because I’ve been dying to say it:

Every time an instructor tells me to “clear my mind”, or “quiet my mind”, this is actually what is going on in my brain:

It’s pointless.

So let’s just get to it, shall we?

Oh and, hey ladies, if a new guy in class smiles nicely, there’s likely no need to cross to the other side of the room, maybe he’s just hoping to fit in and be made to feel welcome.

Just sayin’…

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