Introducing the latest addition to our columnist team, Joni Erdmann!! We’re so excited to add her immense talent to our writing team, and hope you enjoy her witty and inspiring posts! Please help us welcome her with a comment below and make her feel at home here at our Share It Fitness family!! And with that, enjoy her first post below! -Matt
I’ve done yoga before. In fact I wrote a research paper on the subject, which required immersion into a yoga studio to fully become a part of that particular yoga community. I know some poses, a little of the Sanskrit, and while my handstand still requires a spotter, I wouldn’t say I’m terrible at the whole routine.
Yet it always requires a great deal of bargaining with myself to go try a new studio. It’s like I revert to the 2nd grade version of myself, starting a new school year. Regardless of if it’s a sunny summer day, I recall what it felt like in Septembers with my backpack on, pigtails neat and Barbie lunch pail packed.
“You’re SUCH a big girl! You’re going to have so much fun!” my father would say as he was dropping me off, reassuring my shaky, nervous self. Worries of if the kids would like me, if the teacher would be nice, rushed through my mind and visibly appeared on my face. But it was all up to me to take those steps into the classroom and be somebody.
Such is nearly the exact same experience walking into a new yoga studio. Except now my hair is in a bun, I’ve traded the Barbie lunch pail for a blue yoga mat, and Dad is cheering from a much further distance. Nevertheless, I have the exact same worries. Are the kids going to like me? Will the teacher be nice?
Yet I’ve been struggling to find a studio in San Diego I really mesh with, and in the 4 years I’ve lived here I’ve seemingly become the Groupon yogi bandit. I’d find a Groupon, try the studio, and then move on if I didn’t really love it. I’ve tried quite a few studios that way, and unsatisfied with my findings, I haven’t done yoga in over a year.
I pretty much gave up the search. “Screw it, I’ll just stick to running. Why do I have to put myself through the terror of first days of school? I’m almost 30 for Buddah’s sake!” But I know how good yoga is for cross training and it honestly forces me to do the stretching that I’m otherwise pretty half-assed about.
Well, last week it was the first day of school, I mean yoga, again. I found yet another Groupon for a studio I was unfamiliar with in my neighborhood and decided to give it a try. I drove the mile and a half to get to this latest finding and when I did, hopped out of the car and wandered the little mini mall area matching the address. After probably a whole 20-seconds of searching, I bobbed into a small surf shop where two guys who seemingly worked there were chatting.
“Hey there’s no yoga in here!” joked the tall one in my general direction.
“Aw come on,” I quipped, “there’s plenty of space right there. I’ll just set up my mat!” They laughed and carried on the banter by offering to join. I said I would next time, then asked where the studio was. The blonde one explained I was on the entirely wrong side of the little complex. I thanked them and then hurried back on my way.
I was a few minutes late, but finally found the tiny studio tucked in a corner between a gym and a Starbucks. After momentarily considering getting a Frappuccino instead, I walked in and found two other people inside. It was a small space, inviting yet intimidating. Inviting in that there were friendly art pieces such as an altar with Hindu knick-knacks, yet intimidating because I could easily be spotted as the newbie in the small, lightly attended setting.
After rolling out my mat and stretching for a minute, the teacher took his place at the front of the room. “I don’t recognize you,” he said straight to me. “What’s your name?”
So much for my anonymity. “Joni” I announced, feeling as though I was lying.
“Great, welcome. This is a bit of an intermediate class, but feel free to take your time, use moderations, whatever you think your body needs today.”
Well that was a good start. I was outed as the new kid and started to grow concerned that this was an intermediate class. While pondering when the actual last time I set foot in a studio, another yogi walked in. Shortly thereafter, the 5 of us began to practice.
I realized quickly that my marathon training did zero help for my tree or pigeon poses. I’ve never been all that flexible, but I was pretty surprised that almost every single pose required a modification, or some kind of blocks to support me.
It was as though my nightmares were coming true…I suck! The teacher came around to correct my poses often, and it was admittedly embarrassing. He must think I’ve never stretched in my life.
Before crawling into myself and throwing an I’m-the-worst-at-doing-yoga-than-anyone-ever party, I pulled myself out of my frustration. Guess what I did today? Showed up! And guess what else? I’m doing it!
Sometimes it’s hard to be gentle with ourselves when we have goals and want to reach them. While yoga is intended to be a practice suitable for anyone at any level of health, it can be intimidating to walk into a yoga studio. Like I mentioned, I’ve done this before, and it still scares me to go to a new one.
Trying something new always takes a little courage. And stepping into a new studio, a new soccer field, joining a new team, trying a new gym, it can be a little bit of effort to get yourself there. But it’s important to constantly challenge our comfort zones. I can promise you, 5 years ago I would have fallen over dead if a couple of good looking surfer guys talked to me.
But one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned lately is to embrace those moments you are caught off guard. To place yourself in those uncomfortable situations, if only because you know it’s good for you. I gave up on yoga for a while, but decided it was time to challenge myself again. I am happy to report that I have been back to that studio 4 more times…and I’m getting better at it! It’s even improved my running and I’m starting to make some new friends. Most importantly, I’ve FINALLY found my new yoga home.
So this summer I challenge you – try something new…that isn’t so new! Were you a baseball star in high school but haven’t picked up your mitt since? Or maybe you have had the same struggle I’ve had, in that yoga is fun for you but you just haven’t done it in a while. Did you do dance as a kid but haven’t tried in many years? There’s dance classes everywhere, grab a friend and sign up for fun!
It can be easy to fall into a routine. To stick to the same workouts because they are comfortable and you know you can rock them. Maybe trying something new isn’t as hard for you as it is for me, or maybe the very thought makes you want to just go back to bed. But I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone, and see where a new-old challenge may take you this summer. You never know, you may finally find what you’ve been looking for.