I remember it well. I was sitting on a bike before spin class, hands clasped, stretching my arms out behind me when the instructor, who was new to me, walked by and lifted my arms up higher than I ever had. As she did she made a comment … “You should come check out a yoga class.” Well, little to my knowledge, not only was she a spin instructor, she was the gym’s resident yoga teacher. So after a brief discussion, I set the intention to attend my first-ever yoga class on Sunday morning …Vinyasa Power Flow.
In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the best decision for a first date. That class was hard! And man was I sweating. In fact, I think I was the only one in the class who was sweating! I came back, week after week because yoga is supposed to be good for you, right? Hell, I got a good workout, that’s for sure. But it wasn’t what I thought yoga was supposed to be. The music was loud and there was talking. I remember thinking … aren’t we supposed to be quiet during a yoga class? Aren’t we supposed to be focusing on our breath and stuff? I was focused on my breath alright! I was huffing and puffing! I’m not saying there wasn’t any breath awareness, I’m just saying I knew little of yoga at the time but there I was in a fast moving flow class and seriously, how many sun salutations can one be expected to do!?
Months later, having yoga conversations with a friend of mine from work, I found myself invited to attend a Bikram Yoga classes. So I did! That’s when a whole new world opened up for me. I loved the heat, the flow of the postures, the instructors and I loved the dialogue. Oh, and did I say I loved the heat? There I found an increased focus on my breath and the ability to control it when my heart was pounding out of my chest. It was exhausting and energizing at the same time! I practiced Bikram for about 8 months and really liked it when once again I found myself on a spin bike at the gym.
In walks the instructor … one I had been taking classes with for over a year. She came right up to me and asked … “Would you be interested in getting certified in yoga?”
Wait! Me? Seriously, me? I can’t do that! I’m too fat! I’m not in good shape! Who would take me seriously? No. No way.
Immediately the I’m Not Good Enough monster jumped in and made the decision for me.
Postures Shauna! It’s all about the postures and you can’t get into many of them with full expression of the pose like other skinnier, healthier instructors can do! You can barely hold a low plank! And let’s remember how you’re challenged with stepping a foot forward between your hands from down dog! You’ll fail, so why even try.
Yoga meant strength, balance and postures. It meant getting into tree pose with my foot up on the opposite thigh, and holding it there. It meant a thin body that looked damn good in leggings! It meant impressing others when I could finally hold crow for longer than a split second. Yoga meant keeping up with others. It meant being as good as them. Most of all, it meant postures and I wasn’t good enough in them.
These were the thoughts that raced through my head in a matter of seconds. Then my rational side kicked in and I thought … why not me? The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I could do this. I think. What if I could bring a slower yoga pace, breath awareness, my coaching skills and meditation together to create a more holistic wellness class? The women who attend gym classes come to work their physical bodies, but how many of them take the time to quiet themselves, to concentrate on their breath or go inside to listen to their intuition or to reconnect to their spirit, their higher self? I was betting on not many when I submitted an application for a yoga teacher training program.
One of the most challenging things I learned during my training was to slow it down, learn modifications and to teach a gentle / beginners approach to yoga. There are so many different types of yoga for people to choose from and I knew I didn’t want to teach a high-intensity power flow, nor did I want to have to take out a small loan to pay for Bikram Yoga training. I can kind of relate it to the story of Goldilocks. My training wasn’t too physical, nor was it too expensive. It was just right. It was just what I needed to give me the knowledge, skills and understanding to teach gentle, beginners and intermediate yoga classes. Classes which include breath awareness, meditation, asanas deep relaxation, mantras and affirmations. Classes that would welcome any body shape or size, any level of strength, balance or flexibility.
You see, the media paints a picture of what yoga is. Take a look at the cover of any yoga magazine, or the posts of most yoga social media pages, or even Youtube videos for that matter. You’ll most likely see a lean, fit and strong yogi or yogini holding some amazing pose that defies gravity! I think it’s wonderful and I’m always impressed by the strength and agility. But what about the women who aren’t so fit? The ones who would love to try a yoga class but are too intimidated by what is being shown to them? If you do a search, you’ll find women like Dana Falsetti and Dianne Bondy. Two plus-size women who are breaking the mold of what yoga looks like. I began to think that perhaps that’s what I could do. Maybe if I could get out of my own way and release the belief that I’m not good enough, then perhaps I could step deeper into my own truth and the truth about yoga, giving me the power (red cape super-hero power) to join the ranks of Dana and Dianne in breaking the yoga mold!
Back seven years ago when I committed to a path of personal development and self-improvement through the practice of healing my life, I never imagined for a moment where this path would lead. I certainly didn’t think it would lead to yoga. During my teacher training I had many “Ah-ha” moments as I discovered more about myself. Which was pretty frigin’ cool! As messy and scary and uncomfortable as it can be, I do love peeling back the layers of onion that are Shauna. Because what I received from the work was an increase in acceptance of myself, what I look like, what I can do and what I can offer. And you know what? I am good enough.
I am good enough.
And I am making a difference.
And I greatly appreciate a spin bike!