Stubbly armpits, mis-matched socks, chipped toenail polish, discordant top & bottoms, scaly heels, unshaven legs… all things that as a yoga student make me self-conscious; all things that as a yoga teacher I don’t notice about students.
It hardly even registers if the leg I’m adjusting is in-between waxes or if there’s a blinding clash between pieces of clothing – and I certainly don’t think that anyone takes their practice less seriously or is less committed when I do notice these supposed faux pas! (Side note… is there a plural to ‘faux pas?’)
I suspect most yoga teachers are the same and care more that students are practicing, than whether they look like they stepped out of a Lululemon ad. Good teachers will be checking if students are engaging the right muscles and not endangering their joints, rather than critiquing personal grooming or clothing choice.
As long as a student’s basic hygiene is okay and their clothing isn’t insanely revealing (even teachers can get distracted by nip slips) or constricting, anything goes. Don’t feel bad about coming to a yoga class wearing hole-y sweatpants or with Julia-Roberts-inspired armpits … just get to practice!
And don’t let a sweat-marked shirt make you feel awkward stretching your arms above your head. Odd are good that the teacher won’t even notice and other students are likely more too focused on their own practice (or their own sweaty armpits) to notice what’s going on with you.
These things are just trifling aesthetics… although that doesn’t mean I haven’t allowed my own less-than-smooth armpits to keep me from fully coming into a pose. I’m still a student after all 🙂
This article on How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body from the New York Times is making the rounds and certainly serves as a reminder to listen to your body and keep your ego off the mat.
Asana is not a panacea or a cure-all. In fact, if you do it with ego or obsession, you’ll end up causing problems.
– Yoga teacher Glenn Black
I’ve certainly pushed myself too hard doing asanas (yoga postures) and suffered the consequences for days after. Thankfully I haven’t had any catastrophic injuries like those described in the article, but it’s easy to see how they could happen.
Every time I practice I remind myself to stay in the moment, listen to my body, and accept that whatever it’s capable of doing that day. If some part of my body hurts, I need to respect that and move out of the pose or find another approach. Sometimes that means using lots of props, other times it’s just backing off a bit or being okay wobbling on one leg. Often I need to remind myself that yoga is not a competition (not even with myself!) and surrendering my ego is part of the practice. That last part generally means laughing at myself 🙂
If you’re looking for a really laid-back, no ego involved practice this weekend, I’ll be subbing Randi’s Restorative Yoga class on Saturday afternoon (3:15-4:30pm on January 7 at Bound Lotus). Randi’s Restorative classes are always fabulous and I hope to live up to her excellent example. In addition to being an incredible teacher, Randi also founded Samana Wellness to help people find balance and nourishment through yoga and nutrition.
Randi will be teaching Restorative Yoga again on Sunday (6-7:15pm on January 8 at Bound Lotus) and I’ll be there… striving to get my ego off the mat!