My first yoga class was terrible.
Right off the bat, one thing was obvious: I was the biggest person there and felt intimidated.
Around me, everyone seemed so confident in their thin, flexible bodies, ready to go and very focused.
It was hard not to feel clueless. I didn’t know how to sit on my borrowed mat, what props to take, nor what to expect at all. And lord help me when I realized the heat was cranking.
I was a sweaty, awkward, stumbling mess. I even left the class part-way to breathe in some fresh air, in which the teacher (while sweet) came after me to urge me to come back into the room to “acclimatize to the heat.”
If this was yoga, then I guess yoga wasn’t for me.
It took me another few months to get the courage to try a class (and new studio) again. I’m so glad I did because my next experience was much kinder. Nearly a decade later, yoga is a centerpiece in my life and body acceptance.
But I know there are some big hurdles to overcome, so I want to share with you two things I’ve learned along the way to help you join a class (hopefully mine!) and to feel confident in your body and yoga opportunity.
The trap of “what if?” thinking
The most common reason plus size women are scared to try yoga is “what if I’m just too big for it?”
This is valid, real, I understand totally - but it’s also not true. All bodies, yes even yours, is capable of enjoying yoga.
But let’s look a bit deeper into what’s really going on here...
Anytime you venture out to try something new, fear pops up. It’s a radar that signals “hey now, what if...?” and that trips us up big time. The “what if” is the scary part, unknown, and it’s always connected to a core vulnerability we have.
Whether it’s body size, physical limitations, personal insecurities, the fear around “what if?” stops us from experiencing life beyond our comfort zone.
So what to do?
Stickynote this to your mirror: I am allowed to be scared AND try something new at the same time.
By validating your very real concerns as you evolve yourself, you get into the habit of seeing fear not as a stumbling block, but as an essential piece of your own growth.
Which leads to my next tip...
Fear is a tool - master it
In my More to Love workshops, I teach that fear is important because it means something valuable is at stake for you. Fear is felt as an imbalance between what you want to do and what you currently think you can do.
Going back to my first yoga class, I was scared because I was ashamed of my body size and lack of yoga knowledge. I wanted to feel welcome and sure of myself, and when I wasn’t, that’s the fear.
Fear can be a guide to help hone in to what matters most and that’s important information because it helps direct your actions. The scarier the step, the more value overcoming it is for you.
But looking back, if I didn’t have fear I wouldn’t have found such importance in focusing on body acceptance. The fear helped me understand the pathway to freedom from body shame.
In the comments below, share your wisdom on ways you try to overcome fear in your life.