Continued from here.
All of this has been a huge lead up to say that when my partner and I started running together at the beginning of this year, we were both wary of running in places with a lot of people: namely, on the tracks at city parks and on the sidewalks along busy streets. We planned our runs on side streets where few people would see or notice us. We were hiding, at least as much as our running circumstances would allow.
I’m not going to try to speak to my partner’s thoughts behind it, but I know I’ve been hiding while running for a lot of the same reasons why I hid my yoga. Partly to minimize mean-spirited and/or patronizing reactions from others, but also partly because I was convinced I was really bad at running and that this was a shameful failing on my part. (Truth: When we started, I may well have been really bad at running. I base this on the fact that I’ve come a long way since then, and I’m not particularly good about it now. However, in terms of judgmental reactions, I care a whole lot less.)
Then something happened: We got better. One happy consequence of that was that we started running longer distances, to the point where we can’t do our long runs now without spending some time going along a main street. Perhaps it’s just because we’re in a pair or because road running does not allow for interaction with passersby (or instructors) in, say, the same way that a yoga class does, but I’ve noticed that people give approximately zero fucks that we’re out running, however good or bad, along a busy street. (On the sidewalk, I mean. I expect people would give a lot more fucks if we were actually running in traffic.)
This is a powerful realization for me because, in all honesty, I’m still doing a lot of hiding in yoga. I’ve found one largely open-minded community studio, and it’s fabulous. That said, there are easily a dozen yoga studios in my city now, and I’m not branching out much. I’ve talked with representatives from a couple of studios on the phone, and both of them seemed to be really focused on the physical aspects (strength, flexibility, weight loss, muscle tone) to the exclusion of other benefits, so I don’t think my fear is entirely off base, though admittedly, my sample size is small and may therefore be unrepresentative.
Part of my hesitation is practical; my current studio has convenient class times and the most consistently affordable prices. Part is good-emotional: I have familiar faces with whom I like to practice, and I feel a certain amount of well-won loyalty that leads me to keep returning. But part is also fear-based: I’ve had some disheartening experiences with yoga studios in the past, and I’m not really sure I want to put myself out there again.
Except, of course, that I’m also curious about what else is out there — and I don’t want that curiosity to be stifled just because someone else can’t check their preconceptions about my body and its abilities.
So I’m starting to come out of yoga hiding a little bit more. Next weekend (according to the “today” where I am typing, which is not necessarily the “today” where the post gets scheduled), I’m signed up for a vinyasa workshop, still at my current studio but with an out-of-town guest teacher (who comes with the endorsement of one of my current teachers). The workshop is advertised as being appropriate for “continuing students and experienced beginners,” which should mean me, but that expectation has bitten me in the butt before.
In terms of people, I’m expecting a mix of studio regulars as well as folks coming just for the workshop. In terms of attitudes, I’m not sure. But at this point, my curiosity has gotten the better of my desire to hide. So I’m nervous, but I’m going.