With the weather as nice as it is, I’ve spent most of my free time practicing yoga outdoors. It can feel so freeing to move and breathe in the face of a sun setting. But it can also be intimidating to practice something so intimate in full sight of others.
Tonight, a group of guys walked by me as I practiced at Edgewater Park, overlooking Lake Erie at dawn. Though I never saw any of them, I heard them snicker in my direction: “What is this?” I heard one ask. “GAAAY!” Another responded. They erupted in laughter.
As they cackled, I happened into eka pada koundinyasana (pictured), the part of my flow I’d be working up to with various hip openers and core strengtheners. I balanced there for a while, deeply inhaling and exhaling. By my third breath, their laughter fell completely silent.
“Oh, shit,” one guy said. “Damn,” replied another with a tone of incredulity.
I jumped back to a vinyasa, and by the time I’d finished my flow and had the chance to look around, they’d already walked away.
I used to feel embarrassed by my yoga practice, often the only man in the studio at any given time. Tonight, I felt no shame, only strength and freedom. And, maybe, just maybe, doing my own thing–no matter the noise–helped those guys feel a little freer to be themselves, too.