Since the conditions outside are snowy, icy and cold, I decided to go up to the mall about a quarter mile away from my house to walk. It was early enough this morning that the stores were closed, with the exception of Starbucks. I think it’s always open.
Malls are interesting places. The people watching is great. I’d guess there were about 50 people there walking. Some were older than me. Others were younger than me. Some people walked alone, like me. Others walked as couples, holding hands, very sweet. Some were wearing jeans and coats. Others were wearing athletic gear.
One of the first stores I walked past was Lululemon. On Sunday mornings, Lululemon offers a community yoga class in its store. Now, when I think of community yoga, or even yoga in general, I think of it being a safe space full of loving yogis holding space for each other and focusing on their practice.
I stopped in front of the store, looking inside at the young, fit bodied, yogis getting their mats ready. I wanted so much to join them. I thought, I am wearing yoga pants. I could easily take off my shoes and join them. I don’t have a mat but I would be OK.
I am unemployed right now, so I am really watching my finances which means I don’t have the extra cash to go to classes at my favorite yoga studio, Elemental Om. I thought how great would it be to go and move my body and share space with these yogis? Maybe once I walked in and told them my story they would embrace me and allow me to join in this open, community yoga practice.
As I stood in front of the door, trying to get up the courage to walk in Lululemon and practice yoga with a bunch of beautiful, 20 year olds, I got shoved into the window of the store. Turning around, I saw that my assailant was a young yogi on her way in to yoga. She had to see me. She had to feel me when she shoved me. But she just kept walking on in to Lululemon. No apology. She didn’t even turn around to see if I was still standing.
For a moment, I thought maybe she’s autistic and doesn’t know how to deal with people in social settings. Maybe she’s very depressed and can’t bring herself to speak to others because she’s wrapped up in her own pain. Good for her for going to yoga. She really needs yoga. I believe yoga can benefit everyone.
Then I saw and heard her and several of the other yogis inside Lululemon do that loud squeal that young women tend to do when they greet each other. She seemed so happy and perfectly capable of speaking and handling social situations.
It made me so sad that I turned away from Lululemon and continued my mall walking. It seemed so opposite of my yoga experience at Elemental Om. I questioned how can you offer community yoga if it’s not for everyone in the community? Unless you live in a sorority because it seems their community yoga is for young, beautiful, 20-year-olds.
Yoga is for everyone. But not all studios are for everyone, which made me sad for those studios. I’ve learned and have been inspired by so many wonderful women and men of all ages, sizes, colors and shapes. They are the ones missing out by excluding others or making them feel unwelcome.
But then I thought, she really does need yoga more than me. I can find my yoga zone walking in the mall amongst the masses of humanity. So I sent her love and kept walking until I was able to release my anger towards her. By judging her, I was being as judgmental as I was silently accusing her of being.
Being a yogi is hard. But it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Maybe sometime soon, I’ll go back to Lululemon for its community yoga because yoga really is for everybody.