Dear Nearly-Naked & Awkward Middle-Aged Man in Yoga Class… ~ Jamie Morgan

Via elephant journal
on Jun 10, 2012
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Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski

I applaud you.

I applaud your ability to strip down for the masses in a less-than-chiseled form, baring all to see without shame or defeat.

You move between poses with a sense of determination, blocking out any and all distractions in the room, the passing glances and shocked expressions of those unfamiliar with your presence.

I applaud your unwavering dedication to the practice.

You are not a quitter. You struggle each and every day, but you never retreat.

With the amount of sweat your left foot drips upon the front of my mat in half moon pose, I can only assume that you are working twice as hard as anyone here, including myself.

You are a constant reminder of where I am and where I should be.

And I applaud your intention.

At your age and stature, I can only once again assume that you are here for the purity of the practice, seeking the calm within the storm and the tranquility of connecting with your body and mind.

You are curious about yourself and about the changes that are taking place within you every time you step off the mat.

It’s safe to say you aren’t here because you want an a** built for yoga pants or because Gisele Bündchen claims it is the best way to start your day.

(But if so, no judgment here, who wouldn’t want to be like her…and have that a**?)

Needless to say, you are a distraction.

Your tiny speedo and bulging features make for an interesting point of reference in the mirror, shaking as you fall in and out of sequence.

Your soaked and sweaty figure crowded close to my face is unlike any of that in the near proximity.

But I am not embarrassed of you, ashamed of you.

I am inspired by you.

You stepped into class and stepped out of your comfort zone, something most of us never find the courage to do.

You remind me that in any situation I may feel like the wild card, the odd man out. That doesn’t mean I should shy away from it. I should embrace it.

Your role is powerful among the 20-something girls in midriff-baring tops and eight packs. (Literally, I’ve seen those…and all I can say is wow.)

You force us to evaluate our purpose in the practice. You force us to look in the mirror and judge our motivation, not our thighs.

We compare ourselves to your perseverance; realize our potential to do the same in any new pursuit of something more.

And so I thank you, nearly-naked and awkward middle-aged man in yoga class—for you may not be expected, but you are certainly appreciated.

An aspiring journalist, fashion enthusiast and lover of all things yoga, dance and green, Jamie packed up her life nine months ago and made the big move to Madrid, Spain from little old Ohio. Spending her days as an English teacher and soul-searcher, she is completely fascinated by international languages and cultures and won’t be satisfied until she’s seen it all. And so it begins.

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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26 Responses to “Dear Nearly-Naked & Awkward Middle-Aged Man in Yoga Class… ~ Jamie Morgan”

  1. Sam says:

    you're welcome 🙂

  2. abracada says:

    What a sweet post.
    I'd say we are consumed by our sweat level quite a bit, really fucks with the drishti.
    Not sure about the speedo wearer's, do you want us to tell those guys to dress more demurely, I think we could help you all there. I don't want to see that either. I would start with some kind of mild social shaming like 'why do you dress like Borat?'. 🙂
    Of course we like you women being there because you are all pretty graceful and yet a bit hardcore, which impels us to try and get there ourselves, a very high bar…
    Enjoy Espagna

  3. Frankie says:

    Nice one Jamie, great article!

  4. Hollie says:

    It could be true that he's not out of his comfort zone at all. He may appear that way to those observing, but one can't know what's in the mind or heart of another, especially when an assumption is based on physical appearance.

  5. cathy says:

    first I wish to point out "akard" in you rlast sentence.. likely is "awkward" but that spelling error stands well with an undertone of judgment and " oh you are different and huge and old and big" thinking- narrow-minded, immature and horribly judgmental.

    You do not know that this person is curious abot himself. You just made that up!
    You may label him as akard but that adjective in itself creates a dynamic of not good enough poses versus your pretty 20 year old suple body who used to take ballet body poses. Shame on you. While you purport to say that this different person, this student who has as many rights to be in a yoga class as you and your perfect ponytails and lululemon sorority pants; you tell us that you haven't gotten any of the real yoga messages. You are not embarrassed or ashamed of him! WTF WTF are you? The one size is only the right yoga size police!

    I must stop before I say something not nice.

  6. Thaddeus1 says:

    Are you insane?

    You've completely misread this piece. I'm truly sorry that you've so horribly missed the point.

    Jamie, this post is not only intelligently and creatively written, but it completely undermines one's expectations. You read the title and you think, "okay, what am I in for" and by the first line you've completed shifted the reader's perspective (not withstanding Cathy here) and forced him/her to look into the very nature of his/her own yoga practice. Bravo!

  7. yogasamurai says:

    Superb, LOVED THE PIECE. Pasa buen viaje!

  8. __MikeG__ says:

    I wish to point out "rlast" in your first sentence.

    I fucking love irony.

  9. Jamie says:

    All editing mistakes aside, I'm sorry that you misread the intended message of the piece, which was the exact opposite of judgment. The fact of the matter is that in this particular class, this man WAS different among the other participants and stood out to me, simple fact, and that unlike others who seemed uncomfortable with him, I was not. If one size fits all was the case, I too wouldn't be a member of this "yoga police" as you say, and just for the record, I am not a member of a sorority nor do I own anything lululemon, and good luck finding me with anything but an untamed afro 🙂

  10. simms says:

    I already told you how I felt but I still think it's a great piece. I didn't catch the editing mistake when I read it.

  11. dave h says:

    Wow. One hardly knows what to say. I am working on my ahimsa so please do not take any offence – I have a way to go with that still. I take this in the spirit that I think it was meant. Having said that, one can also see how this might be interpreted by this real or imagined yogi student, or by the reader for that matter, as perhaps a little demeaning and yet at the same time as encouraging. Let's just say – imagine that the subject is not an awkward, nearly naked , middle aged man. What if it was addressed to "Dear Awkward Black man" or perhaps "lesbian woman" or maybe … Well you get the drift – would it still read the same. I am an "old guy" and a late comer to yoga and still very much a newbie – i wish I had found it sooner. So far I have found that there is room for us all – gay, white, black, young, old, etc – in this wonderful experience that is Yoga. Jamie I believe that you are tackling one of the last (one can only hope) areas of discrimination. Thanks for a thought provoking article. BTW you won't catch me on the mat with a speedo on – but then each to their own. Namaste.

  12. cathy says:

    thanks for answering. You still used many laoaded labeling words. you do NOT know if he is interested in anything. You made that up.
    I ask beg and implore you to not project onto others in class. or write," You seem.." or " I thought you were..".

  13. cathy says:

    thank you dave.

  14. cathy says:

    and someone fixed the 'akard"

  15. MatBoy says:

    I'm one of those older guys who lost his more perfect physical form during the years of raising a family and trying to prepare for retirement. I got that done and feel no regret for what I had to give up for it nor am I troubled by the extra weight on my frame.
    I began doing yoga so I could share something new with my wife who began practicing 5 years before me. Yoga has opened up many doors for us individually and given us a new dimension from which to relate to life and the larger community.

    When I step onto my mat I enter into a sacred space. I feel sorry for the young, lost souls in the room who cannot relate to this experience of connection and contentment. I dress conservatively because I am more comfortable that way. I sometimes notice the sweat pooling on my mat and feel self-conscious when my breathing becomes labored when I'm struggling with a pose; but, I can handle those feelings and they rarely become so distracting that they overshadow the focus of my practice. I even feel sorry for the teacher who are using yoga to get ahead financially in life: I know it will be a long and arduous struggle for them as they face the financial demands of living in an advance economy. I certainly struggled for many decades to get where I am now.

    As for the young, beautiful and fit practitioners in the room who seeming effortlessly slip in and out of perfect postures? If they are aware enough to look at me in the eyes and realize that I am truly happy with my life and willing to share this sense of abundance to uplift and inspire others, usually, smiles spontaneously appear as we acknowledge the connection and feelings of joy that yoga allows us to share. Many, sadly, seem stuck in themselves and cannot come out or let the feelings flow outward.

    Yoga is for everyone at every stage of life. I do not seek nor envy anyone else's practice. Maybe the younger, beautiful crowd could benefit from understanding why us older folks are in the room and why we keep coming back.

  16. dave h says:

    Sorry I should have mentioned that there are articles that describe what "Ahimsa" is. For example see the article
    ' Yama Consciousness During Summer Solstice. ~ Melanie Dawn '
    on this site (search on Melanie Dawn or go to… ).
    "Namaste", as explained to me, is a salutation which carries with it the expression of the divine element in the speaker recognizing the divine element in the recipient.

  17. dave h says:

    well said

  18. cathy says:

    right on!
    You sound so centered you don't even attend to being called"akard" or care that the author knows what you are thinking. Right on again. From the over 60 athletic forever slightly paunchy older woman whose poses sometimes wiggle a little and whose knees don't bend so much, grey hair sticking out in her half off Fred Meyer pants, with wrinkles, hippie earrings and a chartarunga and wheel which some youngies emulate, giving tips to instructors, with jiggling upper arms, and a higher chair and solid crow in the corner.

  19. itsubi mishbus says:

    Do yoga at home to avoid these jugelmental akard proses er poses.

  20. @p2BKK says:

    I can identify and what others think of me is none of my business. Age 51.

  21. daniel says:

    Read my favorite short funny piece on yoga by Elizabeth Gilbert:

  22. m*rk says:

    Expressing a thought using language is awkward and I think Jamie's sense of learning/caring/understanding is her way of giving encouragement to others as well as herself. I enjoyed reading her post and being a man of a certain age, it made me smile.

  23. m*ark says:

    That was a hysterical read! Tough to be non-judgemental y'all. Thanks, I think we could all use a chill pill(pose?) and be at least open to laughing at ourselves.

  24. cathywaveyoga says:

    thank you, the author thinks she is in her right to project, label and judge. It does get comments, though.

  25. stevexcraig says:

    I read this as "Something about you is wrong, but I will accept you anyway." How lame and arrogant. Yoga should be a safe place where anyone can practice, even if you don't think they fit in.

  26. chuck says:

    I so did not wear a speedo.