sexy enough for yoga?

There are a couple big reasons why I don’t do yoga.

1. Everyone else does it

2. I know already that I’m bad at it

3. It doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that people should actually be able to be really bad at

(4. It has this spirituality edge that makes me uncomfortable)

#4 isn’t as big. I can deal with that.

(source)

My mom’s back is messed up. She got a scary diagnosis. She is one of those people who isn’t good at talking about it when something’s wrong. For most of my life, I can’t remember her being sick, because she was so good at not being sick. Even when she was actually sick, she kept going like nothing was wrong, and I only knew when Dad said, “Mom’s not feeling good today.”

“Wait– what?”

She is stoical. She is ridiculously strong. (I don’t take after her in this way at all. I’m a total whiner. I’m like, “Ow!! I got a paper cut! Oh my god, it hurts! This is the worst paper cut anyone has ever gotten. Is it infected? Could it be infected already?”) She never wants to focus on the negative, she’s always getting things done, and it’s like she just doesn’t have time to deal with that stuff.

Until now. Now she can’t not deal with it, because she’s been in so much pain that even she can’t hide it. So she did her research and started doing yoga, for like two hours a day. She did that for 6 months, and then her back felt better. It was the kind of problem where they were like, “Well, surgery might be the way to go…This isn’t going to get better…” and the woman yoga’ed her way out of it. It blew my mind.

(source)

She said, “You should really do yoga.” She swears by it. Obviously.

The back problems, they can be genetic. I already have scoliosis, which is why my butt sticks out in a sexy way and I curl naturally forward in a totally unsexy way. It’s almost impossible for me to stand completely straight.

It’s been six months since she first suggested it, and I still haven’t done any yoga.

(source)

When I took a pilates class in college, at some point the instructor stopped the class and said, “Kate? Are you OK? Why don’t you sit this one out.” I went and sat, panting against the wall. It was a huge relief. It was beginner pilates. I’m not even remotely flexible. I am the only person in the world who can’t touch her toes when she bends over. Even my dad can touch his toes. Even Bear, who is huge, and looks like his body shouldn’t be able to fold, can touch his toes. I feel really alone sometimes.

Once, when I was fourteen, I went to a mandatory yoga thing at summer camp, and we had to stick our legs in the air and hold them there for some inhumane amount of time, and my shorts were falling off and I could feel air going into my vagina. Sorry, that was graphic. Air in the vagina is a bad feeling. That was graphic again. It was a bad feeling. I had this horrible suspicion that I was the only one who was getting air in her vagina. That no one else would be able to mess this sacred yoga pose up this fantastically.

So I’m scared of yoga. (Although it was OK when Bear and I did some yoga on our belated honeymoon, because I was better at it than him.)

And I don’t want to be yet another perky, cool New York City woman with a yoga mat rolled up and slung over her shoulder. Because I know I am not skinny and perky and cool enough. And because I like to avoid doing the things that those women do. And because I don’t really trust them to pick the right things to do.

But maybe they’ve picked the right thing this time.

I mean, my mom says so. She is a lot more on the perky side than me. But it worked. And that’s the thing that actually matters.

(Come ON! Sitting on the surface of the water? Maybe I’m just  not doing yoga because I don’t have a gorgeous enough forest to do it in? Source. )

Yoga stories, anyone? Advice?

*  *  *

Unroast: Today I love my knuckles. They are sweet-looking. Kind of girly.

P.S. Today my bonus mom (mother-in-law) is coming to visit for a week! I’m excited! She’s like this. Check it out. And can you believe that she is ALSO a diabetic? But Bear got this ice cream machine, so we can make sugar-free ice cream. And I might be doing more zumba, since she recently got her certification to be an instructor! Oh my god. So intimidating.

 

77 Comments »

Kate on September 1st 2011 in body, exercise

77 Responses to “sexy enough for yoga?”

  1. caronae responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    I think you nailed it when you said “but maybe they’ve picked the right thing this time.” At first, I hated the fact that there were so many skiny, pretty, high-heeled wonder women doing yoga. I’m quirky and awkward and geeky and intense, and I love yoga. How could THEY possibly love it too??

    But then I realized that that’s kind of the main things about yoga: it works for anybody. And I shouldn’t be judgemental towards those who choose to do so. I was really disillusioned with the notion that yoga is for upscale hippies for a long while, but then one day I just sort of abandoned that idea and realized that something that makes people’s bodies and minds so happy should be available to everyone, even if they are people I might not normally seek out as friends.

    Yoga has down wonders for my mind, body, and spirit. But be forewarned, it’s not instantaneous — I have been practicing 1-3 times a week (in studios, gyms, and my living room) for maybe three years now, and I think the big-picture benefits have been really slow — long term. But there are immediate benefits tooo. I almost always leave a yoga class with a clearer, calmer head, and that’s worth a lot.

    good luck getting started!

  2. Brook @ To Be Dancing responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    I really like yoga a lot. I am fairly short and pretty fat. I’ve had teachers who were great about showing how to modify and some who weren’t so great at it. The thing about yoga is that it’s supposed to be ok to be where you are at in terms of flexibility or skill level. If there is then THEY are doing it wrong. My favorite instructor thanked me at the end of the term (I usually take it at school) for teaching her by being in the class because I had to do quite a bit of modifying. Therefore she did, too. :)
    also, Pilates is evil. Effective, but evil. and not the same as yoga at all.

  3. Gaby responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Yay yoga!! Please try yoga, Kate! It has totally changed my life, and not even physically. I mean, yes, it has taken care of a lot of chronic problems I had from being a 5’9 gymnast for 10 years, but mentally, oh boy…yes, I credit a lot of my newfound ability to (most of the time) deal with my anxiety and other issues to yoga. It just calms me, it save me from my persistent need to always be perfect, always be productive, and never be good enough. In yoga, I’m enough. You can find places that won’t be all chanty, I don’t get into that spiritual stuff either, but I find this inner peace to be its own sort of spirituality.
    And also, you need to get past the idea that you have to be “good” at yoga. You can’t be good or bad at yoga. Yoga is personal, yoga is making your body feel good, whether you can be as flexible as the girl next to you or not, and regardless of whose ass looks better in spandex. It take a good teacher to make you feel this way, and I try to remind my students all the time. Your body has a purpose, it’s useful, it’s beautiful, no matter what kind of ways it can or can’t move, if it feels good to you, you’re doing the pose correctly FOR YOU. Flexibility- that will come with time, maybe a lot, maybe barely noticeable, but you’ll feel better. Strength, now that you’ll most definitely improve on, even if it’s really really hard at first. A big part of yoga is learning patience. It’s not about nailing the poses right away, it’s just the fact that you’re trying them, the journey there. We learn that the journey doesn’t have an end, it’s an end in itself.
    So yes, now that I’ve sputtered yoga mumbo jumbo all over your comments, I hope you try it! You should come to Houston and take my class in fact.

    Also, you’re totally sexy whether you do yoga or not. Especially if you’re doing zumba, OMG zumba is so fun!!! :)

  4. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    I like the yoga classes that include meditation at the end, which sounds redundant after focusing on body and breath as part of the actual yoga. If you’re not comfortable with spiritual “things” you might be better off kick boxing! That would limber you up and give you a space to blow off steam :) But do take “back health” seriously. At 48, I’m really wishing I’d taken better care of mine over the years.

  5. Raven responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    Myth: Yoga is easy. Fact: It’s hard as hell, and requires years of practice to do the difficult poses, especially if you’re starting from a less flexible point in your life and not naturally bendy.

    I’m disabled. I have a lot of chronic issues, and some of them relate to my back. I was a dancer, but my body slowly got worse and worse.

    Several years ago, while working towards my A.A., I took a yoga class offered by the school. It was hard, but because I was at a community college, not all of the people in attendance were intimidatingly young, skinny women. A lot of them were, but not all. In fact, we had some men there, and at least one person was a good twelve years older than I was. We were all instructed to go out our own pace, and the instructor looked like she should be teaching shot put, not yoga.

    I pushed myself, sometimes more than I should. It was a two hour, two day a week class, and almost every time it hurt to move through and hold the poses. But I hung on, and after each class, I felt exhilirated and better able to deal with the clerical job I held at the college. After a few weeks, my doctor noticed my posture had improved and my color was better when I went in to see her.

    Although there were some positions I simply couldn’t do (shoulder stands: my breasts suffocated me despite an underwire bra, sports bra, and athletic shirt holding them in), and some my teacher did not allow me to do (I was miffed about not being allowed to do the handstand against the wall). I did manage to do some that I thought would be impossible given my size, and I felt my body not only stretching, but my muscles were toning up as if I’d been doing aerobic work. During each pose, that long pause holding still, my muscles shook as they did when I had taken a weight lifting class, and I’d break out in a sweat as if running.

    I never kept it up after that class, but this year, because I’m dedicated to getting healthier, my partner pre-paid for a gentle yoga class nearby. Even though it’s an easy class, at my current state of health, it’s hard. I can’t do child’s pose because I can’t breathe in the position, but I find ways to alter positions to suit my needs. Or I sit them out.

    I got over the embarrassment because, 1) everyone in there has some reason they need things to be “gentle”, 2) they’re all doing their own thing and don’t even see me struggling in the dimly-lit room, and 3) the teacher knows my limitations and comes by to give me alternative options to try instead.

    I’ve not been consistent in going, but that changes next Thursday when I’m out of a back brace and my daughter returns from camp. Yoga is a lot more challenging than everyone acknowledges in this classes. You may see a lot of young, fit, slender women who can bend themselves into impossible positions without batting a lash, but they either have been working at this a long time, or they’re freaks of nature.

    Like your mother, I’m a proponent of yoga for its healing benefits. I’ve seen great results in other people with disabilities, and I know how it’s helped me in the past. The spiritual aspects are often missing elements in most American yoga studies; there may be time for deep breathing, but you should be breathing deeply no matter what anyway. There is a meditative quality sans dogma; if you think of it as a form of self-healing it might be easier for you. Possibly?

    The best thing you can do is to ask around, talk to instructors, and find out what their methods are. See if you can find a gentle yoga class or one geared toward people with health issues. You might discover that this “pre-beginner” class is at the right level to challenge you, and yet not be filled with people who ought to be in the advanced classes.

  6. Kate responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Already, really helpful responses!

  7. Jewel of Toronto responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    I second caronae’s points; yoga is great because we all have strengths and weaknesses and you will be better at a certain pose than anyone else and vice versa.
    I credit Moksha yoga with my recovery from an ankle injury that had me in a cast for months and guess what? There’s one in NYC; 434 6th Avenue, 2nd Floor. Moksha was developed in Canada and is pretty new to the US so you can start a trend! Seriously though, one of the great things about Moksha is that the people are real; all kinds of colours and shapes and men! Lots of men!

    BTW, a friend of mine if a yoga instructor who can’t touch her toes. So there you go.

  8. Kate responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    @Jewel
    Your BTW made me decide to just try it, finally.

  9. E responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    I can’t touch my toes either. My grandmother paid for me to take ballet as a little girl and I lasted one session. The only thing I liked was when we got to leap across the room. I’m not flexible, graceful, or anything else remotely connected to ballet. And I’ve never done yoga.

    So I totally get it.

  10. Kate responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    @E
    Don’t even get me started on ballet…I tried. I really did. I remember being the only little girl who couldn’t do a split.

  11. gwen responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    I’m pretty much the opposite of a skinny perfect NYC woman, but in the right class with the right teacher, I love yoga more than I have ever loved anything in my life. I have never felt as “at home” in my body as after a yoga class.

    But! The teacher and the class are key. The right kind of teacher guides everyone through as an individual, and you find yourself forgetting to compare yourself with other people. It’s an amazing feeling. Raven’s suggestion is good — talk to instructors first, and go to a class aimed at true beginners, and don’t be afraid to switch teachers if the first one you try doesn’t work for you.

  12. Stephanie responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Just for the record, I can’t touch my toes, either. Never have been able to. I’ve always tried to shrug it off that I have long legs so therefore it’s farther to reach them, but the truth is I have a slight scoliosis myself and even when I took dance lessons as a kid and was the most flexible I’ve ever been in my life, I couldn’t touch my toes. Just so you know, you’re not alone.

  13. d-day responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    hi! I’ve been following your blog since your apw grad post, have not chimed in till now. I’ve really enjoyed this post and the comments because I’ve tried yoga a few times, I actually want to like it, but I feel so BAD at it. I feel like I’ll never get more flexible. I have a hard time getting over the self consciousness, and taking advantage of the mental/spiritual part.

    Gaby’s comment in particular made me want to go do yoga Right Now. I hope you give it a try too.

  14. Kate responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    @d-day
    Thanks for commenting! Maybe you and I should take a yoga class together :)

  15. Amanda responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    If you’re not as into the spiritual component and you’re looking for something that feels more like a traditional workout, I would definitely recommend Bikram or another form of hot yoga. The heat intensifies the experience – giving you something to focus on besides being “zen” (i.e., not passing out). It also loosens up your muscles – making you more flexible, and makes you sweat – a lot (which adds even more health benefits).

  16. Tami responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Yoga for Dummies DVD.

    I’ve progressed past the point where I need her vocal instructions to help me, but even though I’m now better at yoga, I still follow the basic routine on days I just want to relax. I have the poses written down.

    Plus, you get to do it at home. Alone, or with your loved one (my husband yogas with me). I don’t think I would feel comfortable in a class, because I’d be constantly comparing myself to other people. Oh, she’s thinner than me. Oh, she can bend further than I can. Oh, EVERYONE can hold this pose longer than I can.

    I know I shouldn’t, but I do it anyway. My solution is to work out at home.

    Also, I worked my way slowly down to being able to touch my toes, and I felt incredibly victorious when I finally did it.

    My husband STILL cannot touch his toes, nor can he do a seated forward bend with his knee on the ground (let alone touch his toes while doing it). He cannot sit up straight and has a terrible, terrible back.

    It took him a long time, but SIMPLE, easy “for dummies” yoga helped him a lot.

    I wasn’t in as bad a place as he was, and something about the breathing and stretching calms me and makes me feel strong and beautiful.

  17. Deanna responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    I’m a Pilates instructor and have been for years but I also do (not teach) yoga. There is a different crowd that does yoga over Pilates and interestingly not a lot of cross-over.

    I was taking a level two class the other day and although I am very flexible I tend to have issues with some of the arm balances. I was standing next to two middle age men, one overweight and they were totally putting me to shame. I was wobbling and falling and moaning while they stood there in perfect form. I mean shame on me!

    Yoga is very healing. I tend to prefer non Hot yoga classes because I believe the extreme heat is bad for the body. I also find a trendiness to that type of yoga that is disturbing.

    Yoga, remember has been around a lot longer than cute, perky New York (or LA) Yuppies and only recently has become a trendy form of exercise. Lots of the teachers are former hippies and well into their 50s and 60s…so yuppidom isn’t their thing.

    Whoever said Pilates was Evil…nah! It’s a great compliment to yoga.

  18. LIT responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    At 25, I threw my back out- and was told i need to start strengthening my core. As I am not one who feels comfortable in a gym or exercise class- I borrowed a DVD from a friend to do in the comfort of my own home. Then- I started buying them. 5 years later- I’m still adding new videos as I advance. The videos are good at showing modifications- and I’m not mortified to be in spandex in front of others.

  19. Emmi responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Yoga has been nothing but disheartening for me. I’ve always been pretty bendy and flexible, and I took dance for 10 years before my back got broken. But said break really effed up my spinal column, and in adolescence I ended up with scoliosis so bad I needed fusion surgery to repair it. As a result, my lower spine (T12-L3) is fused solid, no bending there. And if I hear one more goddamn yoga instructor say, “FEEL the natural curve of your lower spine!” I might spit at them.

    The surgery also took off my two lowest left ribs, so I’m lopsided to boot. I have no problem bending, holding, twisting – but being fat and lopsided really messes with the poses.

    Also, downward dog + enormous boobs = suffocation. Puts a real kink in things. Ha, pun. Like, three puns actually. I am way too amused.

  20. Harriet responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    I can’t touch my toes either, and I too have scoliosis. I just started doing yoga regularly this summer, and I am very often the curviest/most pleasingly plump girl in the room. There is one girl I’ve seen at class a couple of time who is amazing at yoga (I’m really not), and she’s got broad shoulders and a real butt and thighs. She’s an inspiration to me–she just looks so strong and in control of her body. She’s a knockout, in my opinion.

    I started doing yoga to improve my balance, strength, and flexibility, but I got sucked into the meditative aspect as well. I found an instructor who doesn’t talk about how I’m cleaning the toxins out of my body by doing yoga (umm, right), but who also insists that we focus on our breathing. I’m a worry wart, but if I just force myself to concentrate on my breathing and the way my body is moving for an hour, when I remember what it is I was worried about it doesn’t seem like such a huge deal anymore.

    Kudos to your mom–that’s real toughness. I hope she keeps being able to manage her pain.

  21. Barbra responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Why did it take me so long to find your blog??? Like d-day, I’ve been reading since you were on APW but I haven’t commented yet.

    I can’t touch my toes either. I’m totally inflexible, and very self-conscious about trying new (physical) things. It took me about three months of wanting to before I tried the rowing machine at the gym. Having my two best friend who both are/were dancers doesn’t help.

    Keep us updated on how it goes! You may just get me to try yoga yet!

  22. Kate responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    @Barbra
    I’ll report back from the field. And like all of my friends run five miles a day. Which makes it harder to feel really, really proud of myself for jogging a mile (which is rare, and which I want to feel really, really proud of).

    Thanks for commenting! Welcome!

  23. Jen responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    Yoga Tip for Large Breasted Women: use a D-ring yoga strap. Put the loop around the top of your breasts, like you are putting on the teeniest tube top (but above the breasts and under your armpits). Cinch it. If it’s looped properly, it will hold. Do your Down Dog and Handstand and Shoulderstand. You will be able to breathe.

    I teach yoga. I don’t touch my toes. Well, I can touch them, but it’s all in my spine rounding so I keep my back flat and the hamstrings stop me from going all the way down. That’s where I work–about halfway to my toes, hands on blocks or on my shins.

    The poses are a way to push your body and test your limits–they are not a pass/fail.

    If some lithe, tiny dancer needs to put her feet behind her head to get her mind to shut up, so be it. For most of us, that pose would be an injury, and that’s not the point.

    Yoga is not performance art.

    Ballet and gymnastics *are* performance arts, and those people sacrifice their bodies for it. Yoga is being attuned to your body, keeping it moving optimally, and noticing your habits (breath, posture, mind chatter).

    I hate forward bends. My hamstrings get taut and I feel rather claustrophobic. So I get into a forward bend on purpose and “watch” myself react. There’s no physical injury; it’s just a psychological reaction. I feel my hamstrings soften; I feel my mind rebel.

    Yoga teaches you about yourself–how you respond to your limits (physical and mental).

    You can look up “Yoga poses for scoliosis” and try them at home. Then if you *do* go to a class (esp. in NY, I’ll bet there are huge classes), you’ll know how to do them for your body and won’t feel lost.

    Where I live, almost no one does yoga. I became certified to teach just to learn it for myself. So if you find yourself stuck in Kalamazoo MI, I’m just south. I’ll come get you and we’ll practice.

  24. Kate responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    @Jen
    Ha! It’s hard for be to imagine a place where almost no one does yoga! And yes, I’ll let you know if I’m in the area. You sound like a good person to learn from.

  25. Ashley responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    I enjoy yoga, no matter how many people are doing it. I guess I’m not afraid to go with the grain and risk looking silly in front of other, but I suppose not everyone has that self confidence. If you wanted, you could get a DVD and do it at home.

  26. Beauzeaux responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    I second the recommendation for yoga DVDs. I’m old and fatty-fat and I love Peggy Cappy’s Yoga for the Rest of Us.

    I got a lot of benefit from just a few weeks. I have balance problems and yoga has helped a lot. And the breathing all by itself is great to reduce anxiety.

  27. Spelling responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Okay, I know this has nothing to do with this post. But I just read your wedding post over on A Practical Wedding and freaked out that you watched Castle on Hulu after the wedding! I am a Castle FREAK and that got me waaay excited :D The 4th season starts in 18 days!!!

  28. Kate responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    @Spelling
    LOL! LOVE Castle. So does my grandma, I just found out. Thanks for letting me know about it starting up again– yay!!

  29. Jessica responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    I hear what you’re saying about not wanting to try yoga — not conforming to whatever so happens to be in season, but I started in January (one of my 25 things before 25 was to try yoga again), and I found a connection with my inner strengh and with my own body and listening to what is normal for me, when it tells me I’m going too far, and even with my own intuition. Yoga has taught me to trust myself and stop listening to others about what’s best for me. Someone once said “there’s no room for ego in yoga,” which I find to be so true. Perhaps you could try a candle light class so you don’t feel eyes on you. It is the only form of excersize that I leave feeling great about myself. I’ve read some of your posts, so I know you run on a treadmill, and I did that for a long time — staring at the TV’s, looking around at other people, trying to find anything to pass the time with my mind while my body does the work, which totally severed the connection of being in-tune with my own body.

    In most of my yoga classes, I love walking in and looking around before I look “inside”; it’s not all skinny, toned, lean women. It’s women with breasts and thighs and gorgeous hips, and men with bellies, and we’re all sharing this space and moving together! And if it is super conformist and everyone is thin and lean, we should encourage others that don’t look like the generalized (or stereotyped) yogi to try it so that it’s not so homogenous!

  30. Jacqueline responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    Kate!
    You should totally try yoga, if only to PROVE that you don’t have to be svelt and blonde ponytailed to do yoga.
    Also, if you try Moksha, prepare to DIE in the first class. I mean, wanna throw up and cry. I am a yoga teacher, have taught hot yoga, and the first class is HORRIBLE. Good news is the second to 9th class are amazing! So go at least 3 times before you decide you like or not. If you are feeling like death in a hot class, lie down and just listen. Its NORMAL and expected of you to do that in ANY yoga class….

    also, you should check out my lady Hilary’s blog… she is the BEST yogi I know, and she is beautiful!

    http://hilarylowbridge.blogspot.com/

  31. Ami responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    I loved doing yoga.
    But I tore the meniscus in my left knee doing it.
    No joke.

    Then I tore my rotator cuff at work.

    Then I tore the ACL in my left knee at work.

    I blame yoga… I was fine before that.
    :)

  32. Marissa responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    I was skeptical of yoga at first, too. Something about it just seemed too new-age for me. I’m sure I rolled my eyes a few times at the rainwater CD’s playing in the background and the chanting and the overall cliche feeling I got at first. But…. I learned to love it. For my own reasons. For the fabulous way it made my body feel. (Strong and powerful and so full of capability.) For the sense of peace and relaxation and well-being it gave me.
    Like falling in love with a lot of people, places and things, it caught me by surprise. It was so unexpected. And unexpectedly wonderful as well.

  33. Haley responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    Count me in as one of the new converts to your blog since your APW post. :)

    One of the best parts about yoga, for me, is that it’s non-competitive. I trained forever as a dancer, which is all about comparing your body to everyone else and to the “ideal” (which, of course, is just depressing most of the time). But in yoga, it doesn’t matter what I look like or how I compare to the other students – it’s all about breathing and strengthening and stretching out, not working toward some impossible goal. A good teacher will remind you throughout the class to stop thinking so much.

    And most teachers are happy to help you modify exercises if you have issues. For example, I have bad knees (can’t kneel for any length of time) and that hasn’t been a problem. Bikram (one of the “hot” yogas) sticks out in my mind for being very regimented and boot-camp-ish, just fyi. I’m not into the whole “spirituality” aspect of some types of yoga either, but as you said, it’s easy enough to tune out.

  34. Yan responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    I like yoga because stretching is my only “athletic talent,” but also because balancing poses are really really challenging in a good way — they are different every time.

    But try yoga. If you don’t like it, it’s not for you. It’s not a failing of yoga or if you if it doesn’t do anything for you now.

  35. TJ responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    I am not bendy, I have never been bendy –but started taking hot yoga classes last November and I am so pleased with the things it has done for my mind and my body

    I tried bikram first –but didn’t like the local studio and then I found the studio I go to now which offers 45 minute and 60 minute classes; lots of flow yoga and has wonderful instructors

    my favorite comment from our instructors– ‘it’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect;

    I’m 53 and the yoga has helped with my running and overall strength.

    give it a try –

  36. Golden responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    what? No one else is admitting to vagina farts? It happens all the time. Google “yoga vagina farts.” You’ll feel better. I promise.

  37. Rosa responded on 01 Sep 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    I just came back from my first ever yoga class this evening and I feel freaking amazing!! I was worried about many of the same things, but a friend recommended a great studio in town which made all the difference. I assure you, nobody was paying any attention to what everyone else was doing because we were to focused on keeping our heels down and toes spread and elbows in and spine long and head in line and arms extended and collarbone spread and…and…really, you’ll just focus on you.
    I wore pants because of my hairy legs and feared the looks, but another woman there was flaunting some serious underarm hair, so it’s cool. I think the best advice I would have is find a studio that is for people with you life outlook–not the studio where all the skinny perky women go.

  38. Alii Silverwing responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 12:18 am #

    I’m with E, Harriet, Stephanie, and Barbra. I can’t touch my toes to safe my life. :) It’s the hamstring thing. I am just not bendy at all and I never have been. Even as a teeny bendy little girl in for-fun dance classes I was completely hopeless at the toe-touching thing.

    My sister has the same hamstring, though, and she’s a serious dancer. She is a little better at touching her toes but what she really wanted to do was the splits. For FOUR YEARS she was doing the splits a little tiny bit at a time until she could drop into it while dancing. I just do not have that kind of motivation. I think she accomplished it just before she hit 17 or 18. XD

    I do yoga on the Wii, because I’m too chicken to go to an actual yoga class without a knowledgeable friend to provide moral support (I hate people), and I can’t do the airy fairy poses without simply keeling over. My center of balance is way too high (I’m 6’1”). However! I kick all sorts of booty at any of the poses designed to ‘connect me to the earth’ where I can be solid, massive, and let the weight of my body stretch my muscles. Maybe it’s a matter of learning more poses until you can find ones you have an affinity for and work from there? :)

  39. KiwiMichelle responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 1:02 am #

    Can’t believe yoga has got me to finally comment on your blog (longtime reader – hi from Christchurch, New Zealand!)

    I got pretty messed up after a horse squashed me…..yoga really has helped iron out the kinks. There’s loads of poses that I just can NOT do fully (like lunges) so I modify. Any yoga teacher worth her salt will show be able to show you modifications, whether they be adding a strap, a block or just dropping your knee to the floor.
    And you’ll find some poses that come really really easily to you.

    Also I’m a short round thing that wears pants to class ;-) Sometimes I even fall asleep in relaxation :-o

    Yoga is about me – it’s about recognising my limitations but celebrating the things I can do (in all aspects of life)

  40. The Raisin Girl responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 3:09 am #

    I took yoga twice in college, and one of my favorite aspects of it was the focus on yourself and not comparing what you can do to other people. It was a very positive experience in that regard, because the teacher I had put so much emphasis on doing what’s right for your body and not trying to compare or compete with anyone else. I can’t bend over and touch my toes. The backs of my legs are incredibly tight and I just CANNOT do it without months and MONTHS of stretching and practice. No joke. But yoga honestly made me feel really good, physically and mentally. It let me be quiet and focus on making myself healthier for ME. I don’t know if it’s for everyone, but I am absolutely certain that there’s no such thing as being not sexy enough for it. :)

  41. Alana responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 3:21 am #

    Jus to chime in with others that it’s misleading to look at certain ‘flexibility’ tests. Touching your toes is probably the worst – if, like me, you have a short torso and long limbs, it’s not going to happen, period. The flexible people that wrap their hands around their feet are often very long in the body and are using that to reach down!

    I did ballet for thirteen years and my flexibility never improved very much. Despite bi-weekly stretch classes, I was never able to do the splits, which kind of spelled the end of my dancing ambitions. And I would hazard to guess that less than 10% of girls ever can. Sometimes it’s just how you’re made! On the plus side, if you’re tightly knitted together you are at less risk of injury :)

  42. Iris responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 3:46 am #

    Back when I was a teenager, my life pretty much revolved around differentiating myself from the popular girls, the ones I definitely didn’t want to be like.

    Those girls made themselves look stupid for boys, I didn’t and got great grades. Those girls obsessed over fashion and brands, I didn’t and wore emo style all through school. Those girls obsessed about their weight and watched what they ate and worked out, I didn’t and got fat. Those girls had being liked and popular as the most important thing in their lives, and when in class we were asked to list our hobbies they only ever said “hanging out with my friends”, I said “reading and writing” and didn’t have very many friends.

    Now, those girls do yoga, and so do I. My life has stopped being about making sure I’m as different as possible from other people, and started being about making sure I’m as much like myself as I can be. And I like yoga – when I do it, I feel like I’m being good to my body without being reduced to a panting, sweaty mess like I am by cardio workouts. My balance is completely shot and a lot of the time I’ll tip over when trying to stand on one leg and stretch and do whatever… but so do a lot of other people in the class. In my experience, in any fitness class, most of the girls there don’t look like the catalogue models selling the product – they’re all ages and sizes and shapes, and some are really good at it and others are really bad at it and it’s often not the thinnest, prettiest girls who do the best. Those cool women with the yoga mats probably mess up their sun salutations, too. Besides, the great thing about yoga is it makes you focus so much on your own body you don’t even have time to look at other people and notice what they’re doing.

    And like others have mentioned, good yoga teachers will be able to show you how to modify poses into something you can do, and most of the time it’ll go in stages as well – “if you’re happy here, keep doing this, if you want it to be more difficult, add this” – there’s no shame in being happy there. :) I have a bad knee, so I can’t do the poses that require stretching my knees out fully or standing on them – and I’ll often hang back after class to ask for advice on how to do similar poses standing or lying down. They’re always really helpful.

  43. San D responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 4:18 am #

    40 years ago, when I worked at a really cool camp, Lincoln Farm in upstage New York, some of us would get up at the crack of dawn, climb to the highest point of the campus, and do sun salutations as the sun rose. It was wonderful on many levels, and I haven’t done it since. Somehow the magic of those moments get erased in figuring out what to wear, when to go, and the confines of time and place.

  44. Quin responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 4:30 am #

    I can’t touch my toes, either! My eldest sister likes to tease me about this fact by putting on high heals, standing on the stairs, and flattening her palms ON THE STEP BELOW HER. I swear she’s part gummy bear or something.

    My only (failed) attempts at yoga were when my mother was pregnant with my little brother and had a yoga for pregnant women video. My sisters and I would try to go along with it, but I only managed the third trimester stretches. Also the women in it were named Shiva, Britta and Poppy. That may have been the best part.

  45. Erinn responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 8:34 am #

    I’ve been doing yoga for about five years now and in addition to all the benefits other folks have described, I’ve found that yoga is actually has an amazing effect how I think about my own body. It’s not that my body has changed dramatically through doing yoga, but how I feel about it has. I focus so much more on strong I *feel* and so much less on how imperfect I *look*. I think the fact that yoga is completely centered on how you feel in the poses, on breathing not on getting into the “full” expression of the pose, and on how your body is aligned not how it looks makes it great for slowly, subtly, but profoundly helping us with body-image (it might also be that I’m totally nearsighted and practice without my glasses, and so truly can’t compare myself to anyone because they’re all blurs!)

  46. Deanna responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 9:44 am #

    There are such great replies to your blog about yoga. I think it was Erin who said that it isn’t the blondest and thinnest girls that do yoga best. In the class I attended a few weeks ago there was an older (over 40) thick set woman who could do everything even the pose you have in your blog. I’m probably one of the fittest people in class and I am the one stumbling about and whining about handstands!

    One thing I have noticed and this may be unique to where I study yoga is that the people are not that friendly. When we wait outside the room to go in, no one talks. There is one woman in particular that is there all the time and I smile at her…I mean we almost know each other and she turns her head away. I won’t say that everyone is unfriendly because sometimes people will chat with you before class on on line to the restroom, but there is a sense of ‘don’t talk to me because I am too cool’ going on there which I dislike.

    In my own classes, I encourage a sense of lightness. I don’t like people acting all snobby and I sometimes use humor to tone it down. I want to just say to all these people and their expensive yoga mats…Guys it’s just exercise!

  47. Tempest responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 9:47 am #

    I’ve tried yoga multiple times over the years, and it’s not for me (except “corpse pose” – I can totally get behind laying on the floor doing nothing, if the floor is nice…) I felt bad because yoga was toted as the next big secret to becoming a better dancer – and then I partnered with a dancer who was a yoga-fanatic, and it turned out i was still more flexible than her – so there :P ;)

    On the other hand, I heartily prescribe bellydance because I believe it IS accessible for all shapes and sizes, is low-impact, but tones the whole body, and FUN. It keeps your mind busy in good ways. And I’m a self-proclaimed klutz otherwise, except when I’m dancing.

  48. Emmi responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Holy crap Kate, look at all these awesome comments!

    I just went to @Jen’s own site to thank her for her helpful comment.

  49. Kate responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    @Emmi
    I KNOW! I’m learning a lot.
    And also feel some slight need to clarify that I’m not actually terrified of doing things that other people do all the time. My identity is not about always having to be different (that wouldn’t be very original, would it?).
    :-)
    I even occasionally paint my nails.
    That said, I am really interested to learn about everyone experiences with yoga or decision not to do it. Both valid!

  50. Katie responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    I also love yoga and am not the “typical” skinny graceful yoga woman. I have large arms, and short hair and lots of tattoos. But I think that’s the best part of yoga; that honestly, everyone can do it and get something out of it. It has made me love my arms and shoulders because of how strong they look and are and how strong they make me feel! I dont’ really get into the spiritual part of it, but I do listen to the overall “lesson” of the practice, and it helps me clear my mind and shrug off the stress of the day.

    Trying different studios and/or styles is important to find what you like. I like the flow or power yoga classes where you are almost constantly moving and I’m lucky to have found an awesome teacher nearby.

    Always at the end I feel relaxed and loose and happy and for me that makes up for poses I can’t do, or the times I fall over.

  51. LeeH responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    I SO understand #4, there’s a comfort factor there that misses the mark. Could be the teacher. I’ve only taken one class, and probably would have been fun with a friend along, but I went alone and felt alone. Not for me

    I really like that your MIL is a bonus mom. I have 2 stepdaughters, and I wish they could think of me as a bonus. They have a mother, don’t need me, should be happy their Dad found someone; but I’m mostly ignored. In one’s cell phone I’m listed as “stepmom”. I would prefer to be just Lee. If we were friends I would be Lee, I guess I know where I stand with her

    Just sayin’.. bonus mom is such a compliment. She’s lucky to have you

  52. Meg responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    I love yoga, but I thought I’d hate it for exactly the same reasons you do! I’ve been practicing for three months and I’m still not flexible and feel quite alone when everyone in the class is bent all the way over and I’m still hanging out at mid-point, but I don’t care because I love how yoga makes me feel. I’ve lost weight and toned up and it’s a total stress reliever for me. The zeny, hippy-dippy part of it has grown on me and I agree with comments above that it’s all about the right fit. The studio I currently practice at makes it a hardcore workout, not too spiritual at all. I see each class as a challenge and feel great afterward!

    You should totally try it, but REALLY try it. Thinking I hated it, I decided to give it a real go for a month and if I hated it, I hated it, but at least I tried. I was hooked after the first week!

  53. Courtney responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    I can’t touch my toes, either! The only axis of flexibility in my entire family is that my dad’s side has vaguely special hips. I can put my foot behind my head, but ask me to touch my toes and I’m screwed. (I blame my hamstrings.)

    You may actually be flexible in ways you didn’t know! Try different stretches/yoga positions/etc. Also, being flexible isn’t a requirement for life; being not stiff is where it’s at.

  54. Emily responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    It makes me feel better that other people also can’t touch their toes. I’m 25 and in decent shape but I’m not even anywhere *close*, the furthest I can get is the top of my knees! I wonder if that has to do with the scoliosis also. And then I wonder whether the scoliosis has something to do why I get a surprising amount of compliments about my butt. LOL :)

  55. Krystina responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Wow! You got a lot of comments on this one! :)
    I think yoga is a very good source of exercise and it helps me with my high blood pressure, stress and by the time end of the hour I do feel better. Mentally and physically. The only reason I tried it is because after being in two horrible car accidents – not that any car accident is good – my chiropractor told me it would be a good idea for me. He was right…It can be intimidating but don’t not try it cause of that reason. Wait till you take a class with your buzzed head…now that’s intimidating.
    By the way, I finally cut my hair off. I was the chick who had the mullett after having a brain tumor surgery. My hair cut turned out really cute and I am soo glad I went through with it. Thanks Kate
    OH – I have been beside chicks who pass gas during yoga – hilarious

  56. Krystina responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    I also take zumba three times a week – it’s a BLAST!

  57. Kate responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    @Krystina
    Good for you!! I’m glad you cut your hair! Send me a pic sometime. Actually, eat some cake and send me a pic of that :)
    And yeah, zumba is really fun. I’m always the one panting in the corner, of course, while the 70-year-old women are shaking their booties and dancing circles around me. But I like it anyway. Or maybe that’s part of why I like it.
    And hooray for comments! I never know what will motivate people to comment. Apparently it’s yoga! Even pubic hair isn’t this fun to talk about.

  58. Leslie responded on 02 Sep 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Kate, I want to echo what Tempest said…please consider giving bellydance a try!

  59. GreatCanadianBeagle responded on 03 Sep 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    I went to my one and only yoga class with a friend of mine from school. She took me to her studio, she chose the class, so I can’t be very knowledgeable about the type or anything, but i did pretty well I think for a newbie. I learned very quickly not to look in the mirror. In my head, my body was graceful, lithe and supple. In the mirror, my body was awkward, shaking and rigid. I think it’s more important how it made me feel than made me look, and so I focused on my internal picture and had a blast!

    PS: I also can’t touch my toes. I couldn’t touch my toes when I was 7 years old, can’t do it now at 27. I don’t think this is a comment on my overall fitness level, as even when I’m at my most active and can hike 10k trails of insane hilliness without getting overly winded, I still can’t touch my toes!

  60. Jen responded on 04 Sep 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    Well, yoga sucked rocks for me. I could not move my body into the poses and I kept looking around and comparing myself to the bendaroos trying to show off. The instructor looked like david carradine (now deceased) with long hair and he would walk around and look at us when we were laying down supposadly relaxing. I always had my eyes open checking where he was. He told us he put salt water up one nose then out the other to clear his sinuses. The class actually stressed me out. I think it’s over rated. Instead of yoga, try a cocktail to relax. That works pretty good.

  61. Stephanie responded on 04 Sep 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    I converted to some yoga one summer when I stumbled into a runner/golfer yoga class. All these older guys who also couldn’t touch their toes, a few crazy skinny runners, and me, who couldn’t stand on one leg. The teacher was a lovely senior triathlete with a french (canadian?) accent who did not fall into yonder NYC yoga stereotypes.

    I can now stand on one leg. And stay there… until I fall over. It helps a good bit with my hip flexibility and back strengthening. Other teachers have not quite fit as well as she did… but I persist, on a monthy-ish basis in classes and more often at home.

    The spirituality aspect, though, I’ve never been terribly comfortable with and just sit there awkwardly in silence thinking that it feels like my parents making me go to church as a teenager and “I DONT WANT TO. Because I’m not a hypocrite and I don’t believe in this system.”

  62. anna responded on 04 Sep 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    didn’t read all the comments, so it’s possible someone has said this already, but just wanted to agree. air in the vagina? it’s the worst! and then when you try to push it out it sounds like a fart. situation is no good for anybody.

  63. pam responded on 05 Sep 2011 at 10:44 am #

    Hi Kate!

    I started practicing yoga a few years ago. I started practicing yoga because I was a nervous wreck from college and all of my work demands. Friends kept telling me how great it is for the nerves and how great your body will feel after practicing yoga. It sounded like a miracle perscription, so I was determined to try it.

    The first 3-4 times I went, I didn’t care for it. I too couldn’t touch my toes, do the splits, or bend backwards. I’m a fairly small person, so I thought I should be able to do all of those graceful things like the other people in the class. I almost gave up.

    Not only could I barely bend my body, the instructors I went to the first 3 or 4 times were aggressive and were not what I was expecting from a yoga instructor. I thought all yoga instructors were supposed to give off a sense of “zen” and happiness. These ladies were yelling out the poses as if I were taking an aerobics class. So much for calming my nerves.

    I was going to go to all of the yoga classes offered by different yoga instructors at my gym before I called quit on the yoga classes. I finally found my “zen” instructor. She put on the cheezy trance mood music, spoke in a soft voice, and gave suggestions on easy poses for beginners (which was hard for me at the beginning). I even switched out the hard poses I couldn’t do for a pose midly easier.

    I can now proudly say I can touch my toes, my back feels fantastic, and I feel as though I’m breathing better. I’m also happier… Go figure! Maybe it’s in my head and I really wanted it to work, or maybe it really does. Who knows. :)

    I haven’t worked on the splits thing yet. :D

  64. Already Missing Him : A Rose-Colored Lens responded on 05 Sep 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    [...] I really need to start meditating or something. (Edited to add: And YOGA.) [...]

  65. yaga responded on 06 Sep 2011 at 2:37 am #

    Hey, I want to pass on the “Liebster Blog” Award to you, for brightening up my Mondays! :o )
    More details over here: http://theshinybubble.blogspot.com/2011/09/good-things-on-monday.html
    Have a fab week!
    yaga

  66. Kate responded on 06 Sep 2011 at 11:02 am #

    @yaga
    Thank you! I’m bad at following up on blog awards sometimes, but I really appreciate you picking me!

  67. Sonja responded on 07 Sep 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Ten (or fifteen? I’m not that old!) years ago, when I did yoga as a teenager, the rest of the class participants were women in their fifties.
    Yoga has really de-aged. :-)

  68. Brook @ To Be Dancing responded on 07 Sep 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    Bellydancing is wonderful, too. As is Zumba.
    My dance instructor last year was talking about being able to do the splits. She asked, “Why?” Other than doing it just to be able to say you could do it, if you aren’t a professional dancer, there’s no reason to do them.

  69. LovelyLici responded on 08 Sep 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    I’m not into yoga either. It’s too popular and overdone. How could that be cool? It can’t. That’s what.
    I tried a class when I was in university. ONE class. It sucked. After a while, I just laid flat on the floor until it was over. Never went back.
    Also, I think what’s happening in the yoga world today is a total bastardization of the REAL thing. It’s too pop-culture now, and not rootsy and real and stuff. Yeah. Screw yoga. AND pilates. I mean, seriously… Who wants to stretch for an hour? Not me. And flexibility? Let’s save that for straws, shall we?

  70. Eat the Damn Cake » Orthorexia responded on 08 Sep 2011 at 12:39 pm #

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  72. Crystal Lutton responded on 12 Sep 2011 at 12:25 am #

    Thought you might want to know I was never able to touch my toes either. I was also tested by a physical therapist who informed me I have 0% flexibility in my calves. Nice, hunh? A few months ago a physical therapist working at Massage Envy informed me my hips were out of their sockets on both sides–he popped them back in and I could touch my toes! WHO KNEW?

    Thanks for your thoughts–glad you’re sharing them :)

  73. shizzknits responded on 12 Sep 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    I’m late to the party, but thought I would chime in with my experience since I also have scoliosis. My spine is quite out of whack and when I was younger I should have had surgery or bracing.

    Since I’ve never had corrective measures for my spine, I was literally in pain 24/7 by the time I was in my early 30s. This all came to a head when I was pregnant with my oldest son (now 9)- my pelvis separated at 28 weeks (google pub!c symphysis disorder) due to the uneven torquing of my spine/pelvis. Not fun!

    By the time I was 34 I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning without sitting there for 10-15 min. Mind you, I have always been somewhat athletic…playing tennis/hockey/volleyball. So I was terrified: “if I’m in this much pain now, what will life be like when I’m 50?!”

    My chiro suggested I try yoga…and I did…and for those who say “I took one class and never again” that’s like saying “I tried one flavor of ice cream and didn’t like it so I’m never trying ice cream again”…there are SO MANY different types of yoga from super athletic to restorative. Ruling out all yoga because you took one style from one instructor is sort of silly. It took me about 6 months to find the right studio/style for me and since then I’ve not looked back.

    The past three years have been amazing- I am relatively pain-free (for the first time in my life). And I’ve also gained a more grounded mental and spiritual outlook on life. Last summer I was certified as a yoga teacher and now I love teaching to all kinds of people: big, small, athletic and not….my classes are light and fun. I teach in layers so there is something for everyone. The thing I love about yoga is that there is always something I can change to tailor the practice for myself….not everyone is super athletic or bendy! I have real hips and b00bs so I’m not built like your typical yoga/fitness teacher.

    And just FYI, I will be 40 next year and am stronger in mind and body than I was 20 years ago. Yoga is something I *know* I can continue to practice forever…one of my teachers was 80 yrs old and still practiced daily!

    Anyways…not to go on and on but I really hope you try yoga and try it more than once. Go to several different studios and try different styles! Find “your” ice cream flavor and you will fall in love! Good luck!

  74. Eat the Damn Cake » a funny thing happened at yoga responded on 26 Jan 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    [...] that is one of the reasons I am not good at yoga. Also, I am not flexible (does this make me less sexy? I’m pretty sure it does). Also, I have [...]

  75. Eat the Damn Cake » nightmare in yoga class responded on 12 Apr 2012 at 4:22 pm #

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  77. Eat the Damn Cake » everyone is supposed to be exercising all the time responded on 02 Nov 2012 at 11:55 am #

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