Yes, Yes, I know. Yet another skinny white woman teaching yoga.
Wait! Before you get turned off and run away with that thought let me explain.
- my Mom weighed 100 pounds at the very most during her life.
- Dad entered the Army at 140 pounds. Only when he adopted the bacon, bologna and bratwurst diet in retirement did he go up to 190pounds. His cholesterol went up there too.
- when I am worried or anxious or busy, I do not eat. Well, unless a Philadelphia soft pretzel is offered, then I eat! So there.
This perception of Yoga being for a certain demographic comes mostly from the media. But I am experiencing quite the opposite as a community based Yoga teacher in rural Eastern Virginia.
Let me back up a bit.
Nine years ago I came to Yoga for two reasons: 1) friends recommended it and 2) a 'beginners' yoga class was held in an adjoining room an hour before a writing class I signed up to take. I thought, "What the hell, I'm here anyway, I'll try it".
I arrived, wearing my son's cast off middle school gym pants and big T-shirt, to find several well appointed ladies lying on colorful mats. The teacher never looked up for me to meet her. In the back of the room was a man in his 30's, wearing gym pants and a big T-shirt, waving at me and saying, "Back here, I'm a beginner too!".
The teacher commenced with pose names and breathing instructions. I was hoping for a bit of history of yoga, how to stay safe, maybe a smile in my direction. Mr. Beginner and I persisted through the 6 week session of 'beginners yoga' simply because, "hey, I paid for it, I'm not quitting now".
Since then I have encountered enough wonderful, skilled and smiling yoga teachers to know this was truly an aberration.
At first Yoga was about the poses for me. As I learned to settle the fireworks display of thoughts going on in my mind during class, I found more and more that yoga is about non-judgement of yourself. I still cannot touch my toes, do a head stand or twist into the advanced poses so often portrayed in Yoga magazines, but I treasure the practice of keeping my mind on the mat with me while I practice the poses.
With a regular Yoga practice of twice weekly (except for 6 months when my back was out due to forcing myself into a pose a 75 year old lady on the mat next to me was doing- sheesh) my hand arthritis pain has subsided, Morton's neuroma (pinched nerve in the foot) has resolved and I have learned to breathe and quiet my mind.
I was so sold on Yoga and its' benefits for me, I took teacher training- yes, I was the oldest one in the class, nobody cared.
Now I teach chair and mat Yoga in a community gym in Charles City County and at Heritage Public Library in New Kent County, VA. My students are in their 30's to their 80's. They are African American and white. They are thin and curvy.They have diabetes, hypertension, MS, are cancer survivors or they just want to stay healthy. We breathe, do poses and then rest. I offer a different guided meditation each week during resting pose. It's the most important pose. My student's are excelling at it!
Yoga doesn't care what you have been; Yoga cares about what you are becoming.
Soon I hope to have a chair and mat yoga video link here so you can try Yoga at home with me. Then venture out to a class in your community. Wear you child's cast off gym pants and a large T-shirt. Someone in the back will wave you over!