When I followed my favorite yoga teacher to a new studio where she teaches ‘more advanced’ ashtanga (yay me!), I stumbled upon a challenge a little different from the one I was expecting to face that day: unisex changing rooms.
I thought I had understood the instructions of the kind receptionist lady on how to get to the changing room. I opened the door, ran into a guy in boxers, mumbled an apology, turned around as fast as I could and closed the door firmly behind me. I looked around. There wasn’t any other door. This was the only door. And it was marked ‘changing room’.
Since I was early for class there were no other women whose lead I could follow. So I did the only thing one can do in a situation like this: go back in and pretend it’s the most normal thing in the world. Looking fearless while trembling on the inside, of course.
Now, I like my body. I do. I could do with some extra pounds in certain places but hey, no one’s perfect. Sometimes I wear tight and/or slightly revealing outfits. Nothing wrong with that. I have no problems being naked in a ladies locker room. I don’t understand why unisex bathrooms aren’t the norm. I remember being patted down by male airport security in the Netherlands on various occasions and didn’t even realize it was a little weird until I moved to the States. My gynecologist is a guy. And although I think we should all be at least a little suspicious of anyone actually enjoying such a job (“I’m now going to shove this cold, metal, pain-inducing, torturous-looking device so far up into you you’ll scream for your mother and faint.” “Are you sure you want to do that, Dr. G? No -one likes to be causing that much pain in others.” “Yes, I’m sure. Just breathe.” Talking about using yoga skills off the mat!) the fact that he is a guy does not bother me one bit. A couple of years ago, at a Dutch 4-day music festival, there was a problem with the water supply in the male showers; so the guys were sent to the female showers. Before entering the changing area, everyone was warned that, temporarily, the showers were unisex. In some countries this might invoke the death penalty but in Holland no one cared. No one. Myself included. Admittedly, this was at about six in the morning when, under the influence of more than enough chemicals, we all tried to be smart and shower before going to ‘sleep’; as opposed to afterwaking up, because the line would be that much longer. I remember using some of the shampoo of the guy in the cubicle next to me, in exchange for my toothbrush. Sharing is caring.
I like having men in my yoga class. There are always too many women. Men change the vibe of a class for the better, I think. Also, compared to most men I’m super flexible so they make it seem as if I’m really good at yoga. But that’s beside the point.
Just because I like my body and I like men in my yoga class, doesn’t mean I want to strip down in front of them. Especially since I always seem to struggle putting on my skin-tight yoga clothes;my head and/or at least one arm somehow always get stuck. But I did it anyway. After all, I am Dutch and we are super gender-equal, right?
While in downward dog I realized that there were more men in this class than in any other class I had ever been to. Could the unisex dressing room be a well-thought-out incentive to get more men into yoga? I think they might be on to something.
After class I noticed that the women avoid the dressing room all-together. They put on their pants over their leggings at the reception area and shower at home.
I guess I’ll do the same next time.