2015 has been the year of getting my crap together in the health department. But there are only so many burpees you can do before the gym thing starts to get monotonous. So to try something new, I signed up for a yoga class.
I mean, professional male athletes are doing it, several of my guy friends have done it, Don f'ing Draper did it. And plus, I'd like to think I'm confident enough to not care about doing something that's not traditionally masculine.
Well that [massive air quotes here] "confidence" got put to the test when the class I showed up to was full of 15 women and no other guys. Sure, I assumed it was going to be predominantly women, but I thought maybe there'd be at least two or three other dudes there. But none?
Photo by Nicolas Braga Marques
After class ended, I turned to what all 100% normal, totally well-adjusted people use to get their life questions answered: Google! (Cue the Google search at the top of this post.)
A great thing about Google: the autocomplete function lets you know you're not the only deeply insecure guy asking this or any question. (How many times have you Googled something really specific, seen the autocomplete, and been like, "Yes! There are others out there who know my woes!")
Then a bad thing about Google: it can raise questions as much as it answers them. People on some blogs said it's weird or creepy to be the only guy in a yoga class full of women. But so many more said it's totally cool, that it reflects self-confidence and comfort with oneself and to "own it."
Then, thinking back to the class for a second, it hit me just how much it mattered that I was the only guy there: none at all.
Did anyone else there give me weird looks about being a guy in an all-female class? No.
Did the instructor ever go "Okay ladies... and, uh, one gentleman" at which point everyone in the class snickered and hurled their mats at me? Uh, no.
Did I come across as a creepy guy only there to pick up women, as one blogger had mentioned? That's a definite no, considering I spent the entire hour focused squarely on not losing my balance and falling flat on my face. (Although someone did point out that some yoga classes have group work that involves holding each other up, in which case, yeah, I can see how having some strange guy touching you would be uncomfortable.)
But for the standard doing-poses-on-your-own type yoga class that I tried, all that self-doubt was created by me alone, no one else.
So What Did We Learn?
- I am an insecure man who needs a search engine to validate my masculinity. (#Winning!)
- Not giving a crap about what other people might think is way more important than giving in to your own nagging insecurities.
- Along those lines, stick to your guns and have the self-confidence to own who you are. (Clearly, I could use some work on this myself.)
- Do your thing. Whatever that is. However unconventional. However in the minority you are. If that's what you truly want to do, then do it. (Disclaimer: As long as it's legal/ethical. I take no responsibility for anything.)
- Stepping outside your comfort zone can teach you a lot about yourself. (Among other things, that you're nowhere near as flexible as you thought you were.)
One key takeaway from all this that I haven't even addressed yet: It turns out yoga is actually pretty fun and, more importantly, one hell of a sweat. I'll definitely be trying it again.
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This post originally appeared on Medium.com.