By Christine Caira Schaefer
I love yoga. Very simple, right? It was… until I ventured into a studio for the first time.
Let me back up.
After my first pregnancy I was ecstatically worn by my new role as a mom. I had loosely heard about yoga, and thought, “What do I have to lose except the Marco Polo with what used to be my abdominal wall?”
Off I went on my asana journey. Through DVDs, I met Denise Austin, Rodney Yee, and Kristen McGee, all of whom cheered me on in my flat tummy quest, while my adorable baby watched from the comfort of her bouncy seat. Back then it was my practice…I waited both to get “good” (whatever the hell that means) enough to hit a local studio as well as to financially afford the ability to earn my dream spot within the soldier row of mats.
Meanwhile, my husband and I added to our brood (in the pure lightning speed that only a good Irish Catholic police family can, collecting 3 kids in 3 years). Time at a “real”studio seemed a distant dream. I was all good in my ‘hood to hang out with Denise, Rodney, and Kristen for a few more years until life settled down. And, finally, it did settle. So I got what I had always wanted — a chance to practice yoga at a studio in my neighborhood.
And what did I find when I finally ventured out?
Far from the oasis I pictured it as, the yoga studio was eerily similar to every other socially clique-ish situation I’d ever experienced in my life. The same girls who sniffed at me when I dropped my kids off for preschool were right here, sniffing again, because:
- I am married to a police officer. (This is just a big old can of worms for some people for whatever reason.)
- I wrapped up my studies in childbirth by the age of 27, with not only all of my teeth, but with a college degree as well… go FIGURE! My young age put me way ahead of our regional bell curve, and boy was I reminded of that every day at either preschool drop-off or pre “OM” in the 9:30 class populated by my fellow moms.
- My Old Navy yoga pants were not part of the seemingly required uniform.
I felt like I was back in junior high, only it wasn’t 1998. I was bummed, but then I shifted my inner B.S. and remembered why I was there. I had to swallow a huge dose of getting over myself with a stern reminder that people would treat me the way that I let them. And when did I become such a wuss? After dosing my own pep talk, I found my groove, not completely without an eye roll when I was told that I should do the cleanse du jour, or that I have a really “calm energy.” (Ummmm have you MET me?)
What’s left, in the end, is that I adore my practice. I have learned so much from yoga. I have witnessed firsthand that it is not a cure-all, and should not be used in the place of proper medical or psychiatric care. (Believe me, some of the nut jobs Ardha Mukha’ing alongside me could benefit from slipping out of the pink Lululemons and into a pink slip.) I have become more kind and patient with said woo-woos in spite of myself. I have owned my own place in the row of mats, much in the same way that I have owned it outside of the studio, through humor and grit. And I will continue to do so in my twenty dollar Old Navy yoga pants.