Travel

Why I Don’t Have a “Yoga Space”

I remember a time when I was crippled by shyness. I was so paranoid about where I could set down my mat and just flow freely. I felt like I had to hide and go somewhere private because I didn’t want to “show off” as other, more righteous yogis put it. “You’re not a true yogi if you don’t have a sacred space,” or “My practice is my private, religious practice, nobody enters or interrupts my time.” The invisible laser beams of judgment from other yogis were weighing on my mind every time I needed some creative flow.

But when I entered the Outback of Australia, land of hand-sized spiders and boa constrictors, that heaviness fortunately never fell on me. My reserved self was destined to change. I was a nanny for two spunky little girls. When I had a lunch break or some free time, I would go into their backyard and do my yoga practice. They had a large yard and I could get somewhere private pretty easily. Well, these two little girls were smarter than me. They always found me and would come giggle and tickle me. Soon, the three year old started to join in and do the poses she thought were silly. I thought, “Hey Brooke, maybe in some people’s minds it’s not ‘showing off;’ it’s actually pretty interesting and fun. I’ve never seen someone just drop down their mat anywhere and just do yoga.”

So then the yoga began. Everywhere.

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On my weekends when I’d travel I started doing yoga on the beach, in the street on a fence, in trees. I went to Byron Bay, Melbourne, Sydney and to the tranquil waterfalls in the Outback. My response was amazing! I had three Herman travelers come up and ask if they could join along. We did yoga on the beach of Byron Bay in front of everyone, resulting in sand…literally everywhere. I had some say, “You inspired me to do yoga, and I am going to sign up next week at a studio here.” I had others try to join along in headstands, and I even got paid $10 in a back alley way to do a back bend in front of a married couple kissing on their wedding day because they wanted a “cool yogi photo.” I was walking the streets in Melbourne and would have person after person say, “Do that again, I want a photo.” One time this guy totally fell on his face attempting a pose and started laughing like it was the funniest thing, so the rest of his family did the same thing and I joined in and we all keep just falling over and laughing.

It was beginning to be the most fun part of my day, just talking with strangers and teaching “cool” poses to them. When I had long weekends to travel further and stay in cheap, hippy, last-minute hostels, I met some incredible friends who later told me they had started their own practice after loving the time we had done yoga together at bus stations, airports, and parks.

Its been such an amazing experience to break through my barrier and just bust out poses when I feel with no shame of pissing those “better than thou” yoga friends off for purposely practicing in public. To have others tell me they came to yoga because of what seemed so small to me, gave me a whole different perspective.

When I left Australia, my host mom told me the little three-year-old saw a yoga photo of me and said “Look, its Brooke doing her dance!” in a very excited, up-beat voice. So I guess you could say that we all have a box we put around ourselves, but its not our space to enclose. We need to break out and share our gift with the world. My public practice really had nothing to do with me “showing off” and everything to do with those people who needed some fun inspiration.

Over to you, yogis: Do you take your practice out in public too?

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4 Comments

  1. Megan Reddix

    Megan Reddix

    May 30, 2016 at 9:42 am

    I love this! I have never been a “showy” person and was afraid to do yoga anywhere outside of my own 4 walls. Eventually when I got married my husband encouraged me to get out there with my yoga, to practice a studios and parks and at the beach. It truely is wonderful when people feel open enough to approach you and ask if they can practice along side you of take a photo <3

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    Hannah

    May 30, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    This is great. I still feel a bit self-conscious practicing in public but yoga-ing outside is such a lovely experience I’m slowly overcoming it. Funnily enough if I have my yoga mat then I feel a lot more relaxed, somehow it feels like I’m clearly there for my practice (however long that may be), whereas when I want to take a quick pic for Instagram or similar I feel really embarrassed, like I’m making a spectacle of myself, whereas I actually would rather no-one was looking!

  3. Amanda Sides

    Amanda Sides

    May 30, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    This is great! I never thought of the potential public yoga might have. I don’t necessarily consider it “showing off” but I always kind of questioned how you can focus on what you’re doing when you know others are watching for the sake of watching. I have no problem doing yoga in a class setting, or even in a public place when I’m with at least one other person doing yoga, but I’m not one to settle into my practice in public alone. But I love these stories of your experience….and it inspires me to spread a little light in the same way. 🙂 We’ll see!

  4. Pála Margrét

    Pála Margrét

    June 5, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Thank you for a beautiful post! This is so true and openin the discussion on this is very important! I´m the same, I´ve done yoga in the middle of the room with all my extended family walking past and talking, and the children joining in. Today I did yoga while a puppy was biting my hair. When I first starting doing yoga poses in public I felt very scared and still today I think it´s extremely personal to ask people to take a yoga picture of me, I can´t just ask whoever to do it. My most amazing handstand photo was taking in Amsterdam, where a guy came running with a beer in his hand, offering to help me with my handstand. So that is what we did – together! I got great photos, he had fun – and that is all, we will never see each other again, but it was a great moment of yoga fun 😀

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