Yoga is about flexible beautiful people, wearing as little as possible and contorting into postures that make us normal people hurt just looking at it. Isn’t it? That’s what the media leads us to believe. We never see images of average looking people doing yoga. It’s always the thin, ex-ballet type girls and guys who look like they don’t have an ounce of fat on them.
As a new yogi, I remember going to my first class and feeling a bit intimidated because I didn’t fit that mold. I was not a ballerina, and I was not flexible. The closest I could get to doing the splits was stepping over my ottoman in the living room. Thankfully, once the other students started trickling in, I realized that everything I had thought was mostly a misconception.
The biggest misconception was that you have to be in shape to do yoga. I don’t know about you, but if you have ever been to a yoga class at one of the larger, chain style yoga studios you will see this is not true. Yes, there are some exceptions in there with the people who are naturally thin and athletic, but for the most part all of the others look just like the rest of us.
Whew! Besides, no matter how thin or how large you are when you are inverted in certain postures things naturally hang, droop or sag. You just have to accept that. There are bodies of every shape, size and age in there. There are students who are beginners, and students that have been practicing awhile. Most of the beginners walk in just like I did the first time, scan the room and then quietly choose a location near the back corner, or closest to the door. As a beginner, your biggest fear is getting put up front where everyone can see you, plus in certain positions at the top of your mat there’s no one to watch. The only downside of watching people and being in the back is that until you can learn to really capture your concentration and your breath you will find yourself looking at a lot of people who are bent over in front of you. Yoga isn’t exactly for the shy at heart. I can’t tell you how many pairs of ladies underwear I have seen through their yoga pants. You would think that manufacturers would at least be able to figure out by now how to keep this from happening (Lululemon). Once I was behind an older man, in his mid fifties who could have been a silverback gorilla for all I know. He had more hair than I had ever seen, and he felt the need to grace the studio with his speedos. After all, it was hot yoga. But I made the mistake of glancing up while in downward facing dog and realized that there are some things you just cant unsee. Never again did I lose my concentration and feel the need to look around which ultimately perfected my practice.
As for flexibility, this was the hardest part for me. Years of riding horses and injuries pretty much prevented me from ever really doing anything exciting in a yoga pose. I spent more time sitting on my mat looking around at people while they worked into crow pose, headstands or various other inversions. What surprised me most was that any body type, at any level of fitness could get into these postures once they learned the proper control, technique and breath.
The human body is naturally fascinating, and it’s very impressive to see all the muscles clenching and working together. This, however, can also be a distraction. Why? Because guys look at girls and vice versa. Imagine yourself in a yoga class with some physically fit hunk of a specimen doing a handstand a few mats over from you. New yogis have a hard time with this. The ability to keep your concentration and breath no matter what distractions come up is essential to deepen your practice. Also, you have to learn that point of when you need to leave your ego outside of it and just accept where you might be at that time. You don’t need to be as strong or flexible or good looking as someone else. Eventually, with regular practice you just might get there.
In my new book, The Three Month Plan, the main character Kelly is a yogi in training. She practices on a regular basis and is going to become an instructor. In one scene from the book, her love interest joins her yoga class and kelly is thrown for a loop trying to balance her concentration with the distraction of seeing Jake, shirtless, from across the room.
Here is a short excerpt from that scene:
I tried not to pay attention to Jake, but it was hard not to. His dark grey t-shirt clung to his body, damp with sweat. His board shorts hung low on his hips, and each time his arms went overhead, his shirt lifted to expose the toned muscles. Oh, the things I want to do to you.
I felt myself blushing as he dropped to his knees for water and removed his shirt. Muscles rippled across his back. His stomach was perfectly defined. His upper right bicep covered in tattoos. Oh hell. How was I ever going to concentrate now? Every girl in this room had forgotten their breathing, and stared his direction. He smiled to the blonde closest to him. Her ears turned red, as she gazed back into the mirror.
To read more about The Three Month Plan, or Kimberley Patterson please visit her at: