I am not a yogi by any stretch of the imagination. I do enjoy yoga. I find it soothing and relaxing. However, yoga in a public setting is absolutely terrifying to me. My yoga flow is not fluid and my balance leaves a lot to be desired.
Therefore, my hiding place on the back row seems like the most realistic place to get the workout I need (without the insane pressure to maintain perfect poses). The constant fear of remaining in a permanent unnatural pose or the fear of a sudden stinky, gaseous explosion at a most inopportune moment is nothing compared to the fear of my big old spandex covered booty inches away from someone’s face as they flow from downward dog to tree pose.
In an attempt to make peace with my rapidly approaching and unstoppable birthday, and in pursuit of my own meditative and spiritual harmony, I agreed to go into the Tuscan hills for a yoga retreat with a good friend. It wasn’t really a tough decision. She had me at Tuscan Hills! Insert another visual here. I had been looking forward to this trip for months. The thought of breathing in the fresh air and relaxing was enough to motivate me to pack my stretchy pants and put away my fears.
However, while packing for the trip, I started to have heart palpitations thinking about sharing my yoga space with a bunch of young, skinny, and well dressed European yogis. At one point, I think I literally broke out in a cold sweat worrying about which long tunic I could wear over my skin tight yoga pants and which yoga pants actually hid more wobbly bits.
The truth of the matter is that I am not young, skinny, or well dressed. And in every yoga class I have ever been to, someone young, skinny or well dressed, has inadvertently let one loose-; an obnoxious fart resulting in the immediate embarrassment of the offender.
Someone of the same description has faltered in their warrior II or stopped themselves to re balance. And no face has ever had a close encounter with another’s booty as they transition poses because everyone transitions simultaneously.
These fears are completely unfounded and yet I frequently let fears like this paralyze me from doing things.
Why do we do this to ourselves? I know that I am not alone in having these irrational fears. Why do we let the opinions of others color our experiences, or worse, our prospective experiences?
The truth is that we are all wonderfully unique and beautifully made. Because we are all individually different, I will no longer continue to be obsessed with my weight or embarrassed by events that haven’t even occurred yet. I can release those things that would hinder me from experiencing joy.
I’m honestly at a point in my life where I have to say that I can’t care what other people think. If their opinion isn’t building me up or encouraging me in a mental, physical, or spiritual way, I will not give the mental energy to worry about it.
I am sure that this is easier said than done because I am inherently a worrier. One of my favorite passages of Scripture, in the book of Luke, constantly reminds me that worrying will not add a single hour to my life. The medical community also tells us that by worrying, we actually lose hours. Not to mention the loss of opportunity for life experiences when we are paralyzed by fear. These little fears and anxieties are not worth the hours lost.
As it turns out, my yoga retreat was an amazing experience. Secluded in an old monastery turned villa in the Tuscan hills, I was surprised to find myself as one of the younger people in the room. They were all encouraging, loving, and uplifting people and they helped to create a positive atmosphere that ruled all of my fears completely null and void.
And guess what, while no one actually passed gas in any of the classes, there were several rumbling tummies. I can proudly say that mine was quiet and not at all concerned by the unnatural folding of my body. Maybe next time, I’ll try the front row.
Kara Davenport has been a military spouse for 13 years and has lived through 5 deployments, the Defense Language Institute for Chinese, and 7 military moves (including China and Italy). She currently resides in Naples, Italy with her husband and two children where she enjoys her favorite pastimes - traveling, eating, and writing. She loves Dr. Pepper in the morning, and wine in the evening, and Jesus all Day.
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