March 30, 2016

Getting Over Body Insecurities: What I Learned from My Yoga Student.

Flickr/Helen Alfvegren

There’s nothing like trying something new to overcome our insecurities.

Going to a new class, a new teacher or any degrees of varying your routine tends to bring up some level of questioning. “Will I know where to go, what to wear, how to act?” This usually happens for me—and some (okay, most) of the time, I talk myself out of whatever new endeavour I’m going to attempt.

These thoughts may have heightened my sympathy for a new yoga student last week. She works at the front desk at one of the gyms where I regularly teach. She was extremely overweight but wanted to try yoga. Before class she came over to me and warned me that she can’t do a lot of the poses because of her body. The direct quote was, “My belly gets in the way of a lot of the poses.”

This struck a nerve with me, both as a yoga teacher and more importantly as this woman’s friend. Immediately I tried to figure out ways to modify parts of the class for her. She had to make some adjustments but she toughed it out for the duration of the class. I hope to see her again.

We all have to begin somewhere.

I’ve taught hundreds of classes but the disclaimer she gave me really touched me. As a teacher, I want my students to have a pleasant, non-threatening experience. As her friend, I want her to be comfortable with any activity we’re doing.

This fact leads some of us (myself included) to talk ourselves out of taking certain risks. Yes, I admit that I prefer certainty. Trying anything new is intimidating but to continue to grow as a person, you have to get out of your comfort-zone.

Practice really does make perfect.

Instead of caving into her insecurities, she chose to acknowledge them. She chose to try anyway. To me, that’s bravery. I don’t know if I can say I would do the same thing she did in the same situation. She had her moments of changing certain down dogs into a child’s pose, or skipping a vinyasa.

In the process of modifying the class as necessary, she won the bigger battle by stepping up to the challenge and completing her first class. Whether or not she comes back, she taught me a valuable lesson on that Friday afternoon.

We are our own biggest critics. If we don’t try new things that may result in failure or embarrassment, we will never find our limits.

Out of all the yoga classes I have taught, this class taught me the most in return.



Relephant Read:

Yoga, Asana & Self-Healing.


Author: Lauren Shaffer

Apprentice Editor: Carlene Kurdziel; Editor: Sara Kärpänen 

Photo:Helen Alfvegren / Flickr

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