“So, where do you work?” I ask a new acquaintance.
“Oh I work in Kitsilano,” she replies with an unimpressed tone.
“Oh yeah, I work around there too and used to live there. I love Kits, such a nice area,” I respond cheerfully.
“Yeah, it’s ok. It’s very Vancouver and all yoga-ee,” she states, accentuating the ee.
“Yes, I know,” and to her surprise I add, “I’m actually all yoga–ee myself.”
Vancouver yoga people. Just a bunch of clones wearing Lululemon spandex suits, headbands, and legwarmers with yoga mats on our backs, shopping for organic produce in Capers or Whole Foods. We prefer Naturopaths to Doctors, tea to coffee, and vegetables to meat. We believe that because we practice yoga, we are better than the general public. We feel better, act better, and look better in tight clothing.
I used to be convinced of this stereotype, allowing it to create negative feelings towards practicing yoga. Then, a few years later, I went to my first class.
Rather than being surrounded by the image-conscious people I expected, I was surrounded by all sorts of focused, non judgmental yogis enjoying their practice and supporting mine. Lululemon? Yes of course it was worn – and good thing since most spandex pants reveal bum crack during every Downward Facing Dog. Matching outfits? I couldn’t tell you since my attention was drawn inward rather than towards analyzing classmates’ clothing choice. I even had the option of sipping a free cup of tea before class.
There is an instant sense of comfort when you begin class and recite om for the first time. We’re all there for our own reasons and it has nothing to do with personality type or fashion sense or where we choose to buy our produce. I wasn’t being looked at or stereotyped, so how could I speak of these yogis with negative connotation?
There is no denying that Vancouver is full of practicing yogis who do fit the stereotype to a certain extent. I’m a vegetarian, Lululemon wearing, tea drinking yogi. Yet this doesn’t determine who I am. There is such a wide range of people who practice yoga in this city and we are much more diverse than any stereotype’s classification.
I used to think yoga was for wealthy yuppies in need of an indoor activity during winter. Until I tried it and was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps this new friend of mine should just try it, too.