I tried yoga once in college at my local gym. I went to the class thinking that it would be a piece of cake given my 15 years of training as a dancer. I was wrong – it was pretty tough, and I wasn’t very good at it. I left class thinking, “Wow, that was hard and boring. I am not a yoga person.” I never took another class after that.
Fast forward to present day – I got back on track with training and eating the last week of December. I was super proud of myself for shaking off the excuses and making fitness a priority again. The end of the week was drawing near, but one thing loomed over my head – my off-season plan from my trainer includes one day of – you guessed it – yoga.
I didn’t want to go. My mind immediately went to “how can I get out of this?” Then I started to really think about the reasons behind why I didn’t want to go. Among them were the following:
- I don’t like yoga (based on one class I took 7 years ago!)
- I’m afraid it’s going to be hard and I won’t be able to do it
- I’m afraid other people will judge me if I don’t know what I’m doing or not good at it
- This is something new and scary that is not in my comfort zone
What do you think about those reasons? I think they are illogical at best! With regard to the first point, my entire perception of yoga was based on one yoga class I took when I was 19. It seems ridiculous to write off yoga entirely based on one old experience. Fear is behind the next two – equally flimsy. Any time you try something new, it will most likely be hard and you won’t be good at it. That’s not a sign of weakness in you, it’s the reality of every human being on the planet. Adjust your expectations – you will probably suck at anything when you first start doing it, and that is totally fine. Everyone has to start somewhere! This brings me to my next point – nobody is paying attention to you. Everyone is too wrapped up in themselves to spend time scrutinizing what you’re doing. At the gym, no one is tracking how much weight you’re lifting, what speed your treadmill is set to, or cataloging every roll and lump on your body – they are all looking at themselves in the mirror with their music in their ears completely absorbed in their own workout. Finally, moving outside of your comfort zone is the only way to truly grow – your life experience will be significantly limited if you bow out of every opportunity to try something new and challenging.
So, on the first day of 2012, I went to a 90 minute Bikram yoga class. I did go with a friend (that can help downplay the scariness of a new situation). It was challenging, but not impossible. I could do most of the poses, and although I was insanely sweaty, I made it through the class and felt good after! The instructor said that just being able to stay in the room for the full 90 minutes is an accomplishment (heated to 105 degrees and 40% humidity). I was proud of physically completing the class, but I was even more proud of overcoming the mental obstacles that had kept me from experiencing yoga again for such a long time.
This brings me to my more recent triumph over mental obstacles. The hallmark of the hardcore yoga enthusiasts is their clothing. Sports bras and short shorts. There were probably around 40 people in my first yoga class, and every possible body type was represented – super skinny, average, athletic, overweight, old, young, cosmetically enhanced, etc. The body type did not really dictate the clothing though – most were baring it all (or baring most anyway). I admired them for having that much confidence. So, despite having sworn numerous times in the past that I would never be caught dead working out in front of other people in a sports bra and shorts (I am super self-conscious about my stomach), I rocked my Lululemon sports bra and shorts in class today. I wasn’t 100% confident, but it was still a step in the right direction.
So, stop being afraid to try new things! Honestly, what is the worst thing that could happen? If you really hate whatever new thing you try, then you don’t have to do it again, and at least you gave it a shot. So sign up for that group fitness class you’ve been meaning to try, walk confidently into the “guy section” of the weight room that you’ve been too intimidated to work out in, or whatever other thing you’ve been putting off because you’re scared and uncomfortable. I doubt you will regret it!