Last Saturday I tried a new yoga class described as "All levels".
I was apprehensive when I saw the other attendees, gym whippets carrying 0-2% body fat. The teacher arrived, spoke a brief phrase and I could just tell: yoga martinet.
For the next hour, time stood still. I shot bullets of sweat in a 30-foot radius, trying to haul my ample, 61 year old body through an extremely active practice. The teacher came to my mat at the end to ask "How are you?" and I managed to say, Fine. I wanted to say, Please say goodbye to my family for me.
(If you wonder why I didn't leave, walking out of a yoga class is tantamount to disrobing and retching simultaneously. I did pray to pass out.)
I thought longingly of my usual teacher, Sheila, who encourages middle-aged bodies toward strength and flexibility. There's considerable challenge, but no competition or judgment.
I limped out of Saturday's class filled with recrimination for not being able to do it. It's ironic that the winter Olympics (Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger) were playing in the club's lobby; I lack the drive and discipline any one of these athletes has in her baby toe.
When asked to perform over my physical capabilities and I can't keep up, I'm disappointed, sometimes frustrated, but not ashamed. I'm not in the right class.
I hope more teachers (of any physical discipline) make space for women like me in their classes: no longer able to push as hard, but as interested as ever in staying active.
Those are the ones I'll return to for years.