What A Total Yoga Novice Just Taught Me

happy faceThe room was hot. And the regulars got right down to business – positioning their mats within the designated rectangles taped onto the studio floor, spritzing their Yogitoes towels just so, waving to their fellow 20/30-something lululemon-clad bendy pals in the room. The class in Manayunk – a young and hip section of Philly – was ‘all levels’. But in this case, from what I could see, there was clearly one level in the room today: the Badass Bring It On! level.

In walks Joe – middle-aged, 6’3″ solid-built African American who’d never stepped foot in a yoga studio before, let alone a Power Flow class.

“I’m ready to try out this yoga thing,” he chuckled as I rolled my mat out alongside his. “I gotta lose some weight and I’m gonna try this out. Man, it’s hot in here!” Yeah, I replied, it’s pretty warm alright.

“No, Shannon (we became fast friends) it’s HOT in here!” he emphasized. Indeed it was. Tell it like it is already Shannon!

So here’s the thing. I’ve been teaching yoga for a couple of years now, practicing for a couple of decades, and have practiced alongside myriad yogis over the years – yogis of different ages, ethnicity, fit, not-so-fit, shaved-headed and tattoed, moms from the burbs, even next to the bass player from Nirvana back in my Seattle days when grunge was cool (maybe it still is).

But Joe had an effect on me like no other that I can remember. Since practicing next to Joe over a week ago, I’ve been thinking about my attitude constantly. Am I complaining? Whining? Putting something off that I know is going to suck? Every time the crap attitude starts to emerge – complaining over the monster truck in front of me on the Turnpike, whining over the avocados missing from the produce section, putting off hand stand attempts in the middle of the room – I swear I think about Joe. And what he would do. Even though, “it’s hot in here, Shannon!”, he didn’t complain, whine, or run away from that first yoga experience in a hot, steamy room filled with yoga badasses already familiar with the challenging practice.

Joe sweat. A lot. Breathed. Heavily. Took breaks. A lot. Teetered. A lot. And yet he never, not once, left the room, showed frustration, or gave up. At the end of class he smiled, gave me a high five, and declared loud enough for anyone left in the room to hear, “I’m comin’ back! Tomorrow Shannon. See you then!”

So what the hell could I possibly complain about? This man, who powered through a tough class without a whimper proved to me, through his actions, that attitude is everything. 

The attitude you bring to any endeavor or task determines the outcome. God – we need more Joes in this world. Cool people who are willing to launch themselves into completely unfamiliar settings, with open minds, big hearts, infectious laughs, and a positive outlook to shake the rest of us out of our woe-is-me-I-don’t-know-how-to-do-this attitude.

He just did it. With a positive attitude and a smile. Thank you Joe – see you on the mat!

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One thought on “What A Total Yoga Novice Just Taught Me

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