The very first step into a yoga studio can be one of intimidation, angst, and uncertainty. Most of us have no idea what to expect, but we imagine walking into a room full of scantily clad beautiful women with flawless yoga bodies who can balance upside down on one arm with their legs crossed. I arrived at my first class full of doubt, self-consciousness, and a little bit of anxiety over what to expect. I had no idea what to bring, what to wear, or how to act.
What Did I Sign Up For?
Like most yoga beginners, I was slightly hesitant to open the door for fear of what I would find on the other side. As I entered the room, I was surprised to see several people of various shapes and sizes relaxing on their mats. Some were stretching, others were lying down, and a few were engaged in quiet conversation. The room was moderately full which added to my anxiety as I tried to squeeze in somewhere. This was a hot yoga class, and I had no idea what that meant or what I was getting myself into, all I knew was the room was hot, I was sweating, and couldn’t stop thinking that I wouldn’t survive this class and would have to leave, embarrassed, with my tail between my legs.
Remember Everybody Feels Self-Conscious at Times
These are common beginner concerns, but we soon realize that we fit in more than we think. Not only did we not balance upside down on one arm with our legs folded, but I noticed there were several experience levels in the class. I was afraid that people would be looking at me and judging me for how ungraceful I was, or how awkward I looked in a pose. Throughout the 90 minute class, not one of the twenty something students in the room looked my way. Those who appeared to be on the same level of uncertainty, nonchalantly peeked at their neighbors to see what the teacher meant when she said these alien terms like “trikonasana and padangustasana.” After I figured out what shape my body was supposed to be in, I went back to focusing on holding that posture while trying to maintain my breath, without falling over and truly embarrassing myself.
Breathe In, and Let It All Go
After class, I still felt a little graceless and unsure of my performance, but I knew this was something I had to do again. I learned a lot about yoga during that 90 minute period that I didn’t realize at the time. Yoga is a personal practice. Paying attention to others will not help you develop your own practice, and those who are unsure of what to do aren’t going to look at others who don’t know, they’re going to look towards the more seasoned yogis in the room. It is human nature to feel self-conscious during our first attempt at something new, but we face our fears and move on. Once we move beyond our ego, we begin to see the beauty in yoga and our own practice, we let go of the fear of being judged.
About the Author
Kelly Krile began practicing yoga two years ago on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. The first class provided her with an awakening of something she never knew was asleep. Since that day, she has been on a quest to grow, develop, and share in the Yoga philosophy. She mostly practices Ashtanga and Anusara, but enjoys taking the practice back to it’s roots with a slow meditative hatha class.