Nervousness on the Mat


On the phone this morning, I mentioned
to my sister that I’m often anxious about going to new yoga
studios. Truth be told, I’m nervous going back to my home studio
whenever I’ve been away for a bit.

“So what?” said my sister, “I’m
afraid before every class.”

I called her back just now to ask about
that, and we chatted for 30 minutes about when and why
nervousness is a part of yoga life for both of us.

I don’t hear much from yogaland about
this. You write, mostly, saying you’re more comfortable on your
mats in yoga class than anywhere else.

That isn’t true for me. I’m most
comfortable on my mat at home. I’d stay there forever if my
practice didn’t skew over time into 48 Sun Salutations followed by
bits and pieces of favorite and not-too-challenging asanas. In fact,
I’d be content with that happy skew if my low back, hips, knees, and general spirit weren’t so vocal in wanting more.

Are you nervous about class, ever?

I feel it when I contemplate going. I
feel it as I drive to class. I feel it as I roll out my mat and as
the others roll out mats around me. The second class begins, the
tense gut disappears. I’m in love again.

My sister suspects her fear comes from
competitiveness (she should be levitating in full lotus by now, she
says) and a feeling that she must outperform herself each time, that
it isn’t enough to just show up and do what her body would like.
Some days her body doesn’t want to do much.

My discomfort involves a judgment about
my body, my sturdiness, about looking like a pudgy 13-year-old, something i was hoping to have moved beyond by the age of 49.  It’s a wish to be somewhere other than here and now.  I see the ridiculousness of it, but it doesn’t stop the discomfort.

This week I’m grateful for looking at
this clenched gut. It isn’t new, it’s just been hiding somewhere
while I practiced at home all winter.

Can you identify? No? I’d love to
hear, either way.

Thanks to yoga (I think) for sticking
with me while I run from and return to all these bits of self.
Thanks to you for the conversation,


Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All
Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the
and on

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