Your yoga teachers are all around you

4 min read

I’m a yoga gypsy. I love asanas, and I enjoy trying out different classes, from Yin to vigorous to hot. This working mom and entrepreneur needed to sweat on this particular day. I went to a hot yoga studio that did it right.

I was sitting in a quiet corner for a moment after completing a hot yoga session. A middle-aged man sat nearby, waiting for the class’s end so he could be wrung dry by the heat and movement.

He said loudly, “You ladies are amazing!” As I sat there with my towel dripping on my head, I looked around to be sure that he was speaking to me. I said, “I’m so sorry. Were you talking to me?”

“Yeah… like I said, the body of that teacher… Wow, everything is just put together right.”

Discussion on women’s bodies

After “resetting” my body in class, I was a bit surprised to be invited into the conversation. Truthfully, I was speechless. This is not something that happens often or lasts long.

He continued to say, “I mean her legs, abs, everything is just WOW. She can also do some amazing poses ….. I try them at home, but I cannot get the shape. It’s great to see these beautiful bodies.

I began to feel unwelcome at this point. This was partly due to his disrespectful attitude, but it was also likely fueled by my dismay over the social media-driven definition of what Yoga looks like.

Yoga and Social Media

If you don’t know what I am talking about, type #yoga into Instagram. You will see (overwhelmingly) beautiful images of young white women in very little clothing doing handstands or pretzel shapes.

Sometimes, an inspirational quote or line from Rumi or Gandhi is added. It is my pet peeve as someone who works hard to promote Yoga, especially for those who don’t feel flexible or in shape.

As a businessperson who recognizes the importance of a social media presence, it isn’t easy to maintain a presence that is interesting to promote my studio’s brand and also to show how powerful Yoga can be as a tool for personal transformation. This can lead to a better life and a thriving community.

Yoga Beyond Asana

My first instinct was ripping this guy an asshole, but his face looked so happy and enthusiastic that I took a minute to pause and try to put myself in his position. I hoped all the work I had done on myself through the yoga train could allow my disgust to become delight.

“Do you just come to see the dead bodies?” I asked. “Well, that’s not all.” He said with a big smile. It’s hard. It’s an excellent workout”.

I replied, “Hm… Did you know that Yoga is more than just a killer body?”

His face expressed surprise.

“Well, I have been practicing Yoga for quite some time now and I believe that the physical aspect is only one part. It’s not just about the physical practice. There are other aspects, such as mindfulness and meditation. While it’s nice to see pretty bodies, the ones that you aren’t looking at are working as hard and are as committed as that yoga girl.”

He said, “Wow, what a surprise! Tell me more.” I’ve been doing it for only a few weeks. “Can you teach me?”

I said, “I am sorry I have to leave now. Maybe after class, you can speak to your teacher about this.” You’ll be surprised at what you learn. Please don’t begin the conversation by saying, “you have an amazing body.”

I was about to leave when I said, “hey you know what — maybe that’s exactly the way to get it started, after all it got me talking to you”.

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