Friday, July 01, 2011

Being a novice

In June the Asia Yoga Conference was held in Hong Kong. I saw an ad about it and immediately thought I should go. (At the time I was in Hong Kong - so it was close and easy).

Many of the yoga sessions were free and there would be vendors to check out as well.

But there was a problem in my mind. I have taken yoga classes and sometimes practice at home. My practice is irregular and I am not in anyway advanced. The conference, I thought, would be filled with yoga teachers and people with far more time on a mat than me.

I began to think that I wouldn't belong there and that maybe I shouldn't go. I mean, really, I've never even been to a yoga conference or retreat.

I decided to go to one session, which is what I could make time for over the weekend. I went Saturday night and as I got closer to the conference hall I could see all the yoga people with their mats, lithe bodies and yoga clothing. I felt so clunky in my sneakers and regular workout pants and, frankly, my out-of-shape body.

After walking around the vendor area I saw lots of cute and cool gear. A little high-priced for me, considering I'd also have to fit it in luggage. And most of the yoga clothes were too small.

Then, as I stood outside the room where the yoga and dance session was scheduled, one of the conference volunteers asked if I was coming in. I said I didn't have a mat, so I wasn't sure. He said that was fine and I did see folks with no mat.

A few minutes later I found some sort of clearance vendor booth with yoga pants for a mere HK$100 and in a size I could wear. Pants purchased, I changed and went to the session.

It was set up as a yoga session with a DJ, which was why I wanted to do it. As we went through poses I reminded myself to just do what I could and not worry about being out of place. And to have fun.

After a series of poses the instructor had us begin dancing and that's when I really let go of my worry of being a novice among experts. It was so much fun to free dance around the room, even as I was careful about the ankle I sprained late in 2010. There are really so few opportunities for grown ups (okay maybe I should say middle aged folks) to dance and play anyway.

As I left I was tired and figured I'd be sore the next day. And I was so happy I'd gone to the session.

It reminds me that even though it feels like, at 40+, I shouldn't be a beginner, in many areas I am. Instead of avoiding new things because I am a novice, I really need to seek out the beginner experience.

Doing that means I need to become more comfortable with failing, being the old kid in the class and even ready to counter if people think I'm too far along in my career or life to try something new.

It's tempting to decide that at this point in my life, my career, to only do the things that I have done before and do well. And there is such value in using your strengths. I have been limiting myself, though by leaning too much on the sure things and not being willing to fail.

I will probably look foolish sometimes when I dance or try yoga or anything else. But failure and foibles happen anyway, even when I'm avoiding them - I may as well enjoy the experience.


Christi said...

I love this! I want to do this too. I agree it's easy to get trapped in the idea of wanting to do things well or not at all, but I think I'm ready to just let that go.

Firah said...

I agree with you when you say that we shouldn't limit ourselfs and be afraid of failure. We should be confident and try new things, sometimes it turns out not be as diffucult or embarassing as we thought it would be. One part of life is certainly about exploring new things and abilities, this way we can be there, do it, feel it and then move on. We shouldn't be afraid and be more open for new experiences. We should also be aware of our weaknesses, approve them and be ready to improve. Have a nice day!