Can I do yoga if I don’t fit in?
“Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.” -Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Many of us want to try yoga, but hold ourselves back for fear we won’t fit in: • we’re too stiff… overweight… or old • we’ve got creaky joints or bad feet • we believe yoga is for young flexible women, not us.
Some people feel they will never fit in.
Others feel they need to change first, before they can start. As if there is some type of ‘pre-yoga’ that helps people get into shape to start yoga itself.
In truth, yoga is intended for everyone. It doesn’t discriminate on the basis of age, nationality, gender, health status, or any other criteria. We can all benefit, regardless.
And we get those benefits by stepping onto a yoga mat, or into a yoga class, and opening ourselves up to the practice.
So if change is needed, all that’s required is a shift in attitude that takes us from ‘It’s not for me’, or ‘I can’t’, or ‘I’m going to’, or ‘I’d like to’, to ‘I’m actually doing it’.
When we come to a yoga class, there is an element of ‘fitting-in’. It would be misleading to suggest otherwise.
We benefit from yoga by bringing our focus to our body and our breath. And that’s not going to happen if we’re sending texts, or gazing out of the window, or having a long chat with a friend on the next yoga mat.
So there is an element of ‘fitting-in’. But it’s not in the sense that we’re required to be someone we’re not. Quite the opposite. Yoga is asking us to more truly be the person we are, rather than someone we’re not.
By quietly bringing our focus to our body and our breath, we take ourselves on a journey towards our true selves.
That journey may bring rewards in terms of greater strength and flexibility. It may bring rewards in terms of mental quietness. We may find we are able to respond more wisely in difficult situations, rather than just reacting in an instant. We may uncover a sense of being more connected to ourselves and to others.
So if you’re reluctant to try yoga because you feel you won’t fit in, ask yourself this. Does yoga really require me to “fit in”? Or is it really about putting myself in a place where I can become more fully myself?
“Yoga allows you to discover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like you are constantly trying to fit broken pieces together” -BKS Iyengar