I meant to post this last week after last Wednesday’s yoga class but then I woke up the next day and it didn’t seem so important anymore. But then Wednesday’s class happened again and I felt the same again. Now it seems important again.
I have never felt like I belonged to any particular group of people. As a child I would often wander around on my own with no one to play with. Friends have come and gone in my life, sometimes I have a few and sometimes I have little to none. Which is strange because I like people and I like having friendships. A lot of my childhood was taken up by me feeling somewhat ‘out of it’, I had no friends at the orchestra (but I felt I had to go because I was told I was a good violinist), I had no friends at my dance class (ditto dancer) and I was such a nice little girl that I was frequently taken up as a best friend only to be later dumped by less kind hearted, more manipulative little girls.
But in some ways I accepted this feeling of outsiderness, I understood that not everyone could have friends all the time. I did things because I was interested in them, people I could take or leave. I have never been one for small talk. Strangely enough despite all this I am actually a really good friend and I have had a lot of close friendships. I’m always the confidant, the agony aunt, the shoulder to cry on as well as the one to mess around with.
This feeling has carried into my adult life, I felt it at university and I feel it very much in my yoga classes. The first class I went to was full of 30-40 something year old women complaining about how terrible they were at yoga and how glad they were to be away from the kids. As a depressed 23 year old with no kids who had an earnest desire to do yoga I could not relate. I just smiled and did my yoga. And stopped going.
Now in my new class I’m amongst mostly 30-40 something year old women who complain they’re not better at yoga, that they can’t do handstands or they can’t balance in this or that pose. The air of competition and performance is overwhelming. It’s one of those non-stop flow classes which I enjoy and I do practice at home but then at some point in the class it’s time to get the big guns out. It’s time for handstands, or arm balances, or big showy backbends (which we haven’t prepared for). Inevitably everyone watches everyone else at this point and if they “achieve” said pose they get clapped. I do yoga as a form of mindfulness meditation, they seem to be treating it as some kind of gymnastics competition.
I hate it and I feel uncomfortable knowing I am being judged. But I love learning new things in yoga and I think it’s good to at least try to be part of a community. Long ago I adopted the attitude “get what you can out of a situation because nothing is going to be perfect for you” and I live by that. But by god it’s lonely. I do not want to be a part of that group but I do not want to be so outside it that I get upset. Within my body when I am doing yoga I am home and I am whole. In a yoga class I am an outsider. I will have to learn to accept that.
All I can take from it for now is when I teach yoga I will try hard to make sure that everyone is welcome, that no one feels they are not ‘good enough’ or they are not able to be a part of the group. That is my promise.