What is that clumsy, fat guy doing in my yoga class?
June 25, 2008 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Wanted: Boston area beginner's yoga class. Difficulty: Male, heavier and a novice. Where?

I've begun exercising more regularly, but I am as stiff as a cinder block and have less balance than a two legged stool. It seems like yoga would help with these things. I'm sort of intimidated by/loathe the idea of being the only clumsy, "fat", guy in the room.

I'm not that fat, but I am stocky/bulky when contrasted to the lithe, mainly female figures I see coming out of yoga classes.

By Boston Area I really mean Cambridge/Somerville/Arlington/Medford.

I'm not really interested in the "religious" aspect, but that's not an automatic disqualifier.
posted by Any Moose In a Storm to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Judy Scribner-Moore is in Medford. She's very good, not new agey, and used to accommodating people with injuries or other limitations.

There are definitely other guys in her beginner class (sometimes I'm one of them), and people of all ages and fitness levels, from svelte to fat, young and old. Feel free to MefiMail me if you have more questions.
posted by canine epigram at 9:25 AM on June 25, 2008

Response by poster: If it helps, no need for potential responders to be fundamentalist about sticking to the boundaries of the towns listed above.
posted by Any Moose In a Storm at 10:27 AM on June 25, 2008

Don't let it bother you. In fifteen years of off-and-on yoga I can't think of a single class where the women didn't outnumber the men by at least 5 to 1. Consequently nobody notices. The only thing that I have ever seen get people's notice in a yoga class is being excessively loud. Refrain from grunting at the top of your lungs and nobody is going to pay the slightest bit of attention to you, paired chromosomes or not.
posted by phearlez at 10:46 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't have specific tips for Boston but:
Don't let self-consciousness keep you from doing yoga.

More or less any true beginner's class will have plenty of old ladies, fat ladies, clumsy and self-conscious ladies, and usually a couple of dudes. The dudes I've done yoga with range in age from probably 15-65, all levels of fitness.

I would say don't go for "hot yoga" (Bikram is one version of this) yet. I would look for a beginner's Ashtanga class. Most places have websites that describe the courses, and they may even offer several beginner's courses. You can call and ask if any of the instructors go especially slow, or specialize in people who are really super-beginners. This is a common, common question for them - lots of non-fitness-type people start up yoga every session. (I say this as a previously intimidated, non-fitness-type person)

Don't worry about being flexible when you go in. For one thing, most people aren't, and for another thing, honestly truly nobody will be judging/looking at you. For another, the point of yoga isn't to be able to do each pose perfectly at the beginning. It's to do whatever version of the pose you can comfortably do at the time, and over months you work toward being able to do a fuller version of the pose. A good instructor will say "here's the full pose we'll work toward, probably nobody can do this today. Here are some modifications -- if you can't touch your toes, then put your hands on your thighs; if x isn't comfortable for you, try y" etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:37 AM on June 25, 2008

I do have a specific recommendation for the Boston area that should be perfect for you.

I originally learned yoga from Billie Jo Joy, who is a fabulous teacher and wonderful person. She teaches and practices Iyengar yoga, which focuses on developing and perfecting yoga poses, rather than stringing them all together in sun salutations. It also encourages the use of props (belts, blocks, and so forth) to help in developing the poses, so you won't feel singled out if you can't do some of them unassisted.

Billie Jo is a fabulous teacher for beginners, because (unlike many other yoga teachers in the U.S.) she takes a great deal of time to help in figuring out how to do the poses. I can't imagine a better teacher, and miss her classes a great deal. Apparently, in the years since I left the area, she has opened a studio in Cambridge, Art and Soul Yoga. Although I haven't taken any of their classes, I encourage you to try one of hers out (perhaps her Thursday evening "Gentle Yoga" session). Good luck!
posted by googly at 12:19 PM on June 25, 2008

The Back Bay Yoga studio offers a 2 week trial for beginners, for only $25. I guess you can go to as many classes as you like during the two weeks. I've never been but a bunch of my friends go to that studio and love it, and the intro program is appealing for novices because you can try a whole bunch of different styles and different instructors to see which ones you end up liking best.
posted by emd3737 at 12:33 PM on June 25, 2008

I think all of these have beginners/all levels classes
- The Arlington Center in Arlington. I've taken classes there off and on over the years and found them consistent.
- In Cambridge check out Soni Yoga and Karma Yoga. Soni is new but the two classes I've taken there have been higher quality than I was expecting from a place just starting out. Karma has expanded significantly since I last took classes there but it looks like the founder is still there.
- O2 Yoga in Somerville gets good marks from friends.
posted by cocoagirl at 12:35 PM on June 25, 2008

I would say don't go for "hot yoga" (Bikram is one version of this) yet.

I respectfully disagree. Bikram is great for beginners. You'll get a fantastic cardiovascular workout, its the least granola or religious form I've found (though it is still YOGA), chattiness is strongly discouraged, and focus on the self is paramount.

/sarcastic machismo/
Dude, get over yourself, suck it up, and do it!
\sarcastic machismo\
posted by GPF at 1:42 PM on June 25, 2008

Not specific to your region, but I'd recommend looking to see if your local YMCA or community college (look for "extension" or "extended learning") offers a beginner's yoga class. I did a yoga class at the CC where I used to work. I started while I was still recovering from a knee injury, and the teacher was great about either avoiding or adjusting poses that I couldn't do.

The class was also a nice mix of retired ladies from the neighborhood and my fellow staff members; mostly women, yes, but of various sizes & states of well-being. Something about being not a yoga studio helps, although I don't know why.

I'm of mixed minds about whether hot/bikram yoga would be good at your stage. That's what I'm doing now, and while I love it, it can be intimidating to start. We have the class at the place where I work now, and several of my co-workers got discouraged, if unnecessarily IMHO. If you can focus on your own progress, then you should be fine, no matter where you start.

As somebody who's also always had "the balance of a two-legged stool" (ha!) I'm pleasantly surprised at how far I've gotten with my yoga.

Wherever you end up, go for it, and have fun!
posted by epersonae at 1:03 PM on June 26, 2008

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