Anyone who knows me knows that I love yoga. I’ve been practicing since college – which means it’s been a 20 year adventure in exercise, meditation and comfortable pants.
I like yoga because I can do it without running or jumping. I like yoga because my first yoga teacher ever was a grown adult woman with big hips, soft thighs, and a thick accent. I like yoga because when I started practicing yoga, it was approachable.
Over the years, yoga has gotten progressively prettier. Lululemon and Athleta stormed onto the scene with their draped tops and legwarmers just in time for me get pregnant and insecure. Classes filled with beautiful women whose white teeth and casually curled pony tails made me feel dumpy and poorly dressed. And their poses were SO SHARP. Everyone looked like a professional.
And then I had these babies. I could no longer hold the poses I was working on in my old body, and I never shook the (self-imposed?) feelings of alienation that seemed to come with the attractive people triangle posing beside me. I felt like MySpace in the middle of SnapChat convention.
This week, I attended a mid-morning class at Saatva Yoga on Palisade Avenue. It was raining, and I sort of fell into the studio in all of my clumsy & uncoordinated glory.
The owner’s name is Karen Mandell. She greeted me warmly, and we chatted for a moment while the studio filled with adults who looked at least as old as I am. The mood was easy and the people were friendly. We moved through the class together, breathing in relative unison while Karen talked us through the history and purpose of the poses.
When the class was over, I asked Karen what she does to ensure her studio draws such a comfortable and diverse group.
“It’s who I am,” she said. “This is what yoga is for me. We’re not really a handstand selfie crowd. To me, yoga is so much more than a physical practice. Ultimately, we believe that yoga is for everybody and every body.”
And just between us, this middle-aged muffin top mama appreciates the sentiment.