In the coming weeks we will be sharing personal stories from the Yoga Ninjas in our community who have overcame the "yoga" stereotypes that many people accept as true. These stories will prove that it's simply not the case.
"I've always been shy and really not been very sporty. I was also lucky to be fairly slim right up until I had my son 24 years ago, then the weight piled on and for many reasons I've used food as a way to hide from the world.
I always wanted to try Yoga, it's always appealed to me. So about 10 years ago I went to a class, the experience was awful. The teacher looked me up and down with disapproval when I entered and even asked if I'd got the right class. I was directed to the very back of the room to take a mat. The other students also gave me pitying looks and there were a few tuts. I saw on their faces the thoughts "what's she doing here?" "how could she let herself look like that?" "she shouldn't be here". All I wanted was to find a way to start moving and exercising to help me get fit and lose weight. I didn't do well in the class but got to the end and was rather pleased with my efforts until one of the students when leaving said "never mind dear yoga isn't for everyone" and with a swish of her perfect hair, mat held under toned arms her and her sleek, flexible friends left, giggling. I was mortified, I sat in my car crying for 20 minutes and never went back. It not only broke my spirit, it also killed my weight loss journey. What was the point and there was no way I could face another live class of anything.
Fast forward to 2018 when I reached my highest weight, I finally had enough and I've done a lot of personal development, healing and growth. I started to eat healthily and walk a lot. I lost 2 stone in 2 years. Then 2020 came around, lockdown hit and as I began working full time from home I realized I had a golden opportunity. Everywhere I looked online were at home yoga classes and I had time where my morning and evening commute would have been. This was my chance, at home safe in my living room was a chance to do something I'd told myself...not being made to believe, was not for me. No-one watching, no-one to laugh and ridicule me. It was HARD, I nearly quit so many times but the connection I started making with my mind and body and the wellbeing I got before and after work was too good to give up. I was learning, getting stronger and flowing (ok it's not beautifully graceful but I was moving). Then I started noticing small changes, a bit of tone, some tightness and muscle - I'd not seen that for years.
When I saw the advert for Yogi Flight School I thought why not, I was at a turning point, I wanted to challenge myself, I wanted to do the poses I saw others do on Instagram but always thought "It's not for the likes of me". Well there was Nathania telling me all the thoughts that were in my head were wrong, the stories I'd been telling myself were nonsense and I too could do arm balances and inversions. The tiny spark grew into a flame and suddenly I had hope. I did not have a yoga body, I was not strong toned and flexible, I wasn't thin and here was someone telling me it didn't matter. What mattered most was my mindset, change that and I could fly.
I am so glad I signed up, there have been many times I'd have given up if it wasn't for the loving support of the YFS community. Seeing so many other "non-yoga body" people doing all these awesome poses and lovingly guiding and supporting each other is my daily motivation and inspiration to keep going. I'm still overweight, I have a tummy, thick thighs, not a huge amount of control in my core. But what I've gained is a desire to continue investing in myself, a commitment to everyday show up for myself. I'm enjoying the hard work and building strength and flexibility in a way I would never have thought I would find so enjoyable (yes I am actually enjoying drills and strength work because I know what I'll get at the end of it). The biggest lesson I've learned is to unlock and change the stories I tell myself, I learn lessons on the mat that I take off the mat and have led to more personal growth over the last 6 months than I have achieved in several years of work leading up to signing up. I'm 44 and proud to not have a yoga body, I love myself and my body exactly how they are. I've divorced my scales and changed my mindset because YFS has taught me that no matter what, where I focus is where I go, what I believe I can do I can do. I get to be the woman I want to be, no judgement. I get to validate myself rather than listen to others opinions of what I should or should not be doing with my practice and my body type.
If I was to say one thing to people who don't have a yoga body it would be this...if you have a spark of curiosity about yoga and arm balances, GO FOR IT, don't let others opinions get in your way. It's your life and you get to live it your way. Below is a compilation of what I've achieved since joining YFS in March 2021, can you imagine what I could have achieved if I hadn't let those comments and looks put me off 10 years ago!! No regrets because I might have missed out on being in this amazing Ninja family which I love so much."
Unfortunately, there are people in the community of yoga who also believe in these stereotypes. Yogi Flight School is here to tell you: argue for your possibilities, not for your limitations.
What stereotypes will you be crushing?