The women’s only yoga class offered by the Fit Centre is a basic-level class for women looking to work on their strength and flexibility in a positive and supportive atmosphere that welcomes women and non-binary folks.
The class is held every Friday from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m., and the instructor leads the group through a range of basic but tall and sturdy poses that are selected to make participants feel empowered and confident. This class is a great way to wind down and de-stress after a busy week at school and ease into the upcoming weekend feeling self-possessed.
While there are a number of valid reasons for hosting women’s only variants of classes, this class in particular started several years ago, when a group of female Muslim students advocated for a separate session. This is also why the class is held in the Physical Activity Complex dance studio, as it is the only room which provides enough privacy for the participants from other gym-goers.
It is not stated specifically in the registration for the class, but this session is also inclusive of non-binary people who wish to participate in yoga in a more private session.
A base knowledge of yoga movements will help you in this class, and while it might feel a bit discouraging to get lost as a beginner, the instructor encourages participants to follow their breath and go at their own pace. For me, the poses were not too physically demanding on my body. They mostly involved lunges, plank and mountain pose — which let me use my low centre of gravity for balance.
The instructor took us into an extended side angle, and after that, we challenged ourselves with half-moon pose, where we were offered variations for increased or decreased difficulty. While my stability is not very good, I felt confident enough in the fitness class to attempt some of the poses that are outside of my comfort zone.
Even though I knew I could not hold the poses for long, I felt comfortable, because the instructor was encouraging and everyone seemed so focused on their own movements that they did not notice anyone else falling out of poses.
I have attended some yoga classes that emphasize the meditative aspects of yoga above all else, but this class focuses on identifying your body’s strength through the movements. We were even able to ask questions of the instructor during the session, and she would also make jokes or comments throughout, which made the class feel more laid-back.
Before the class started, I did not think that it would make much of a difference to take a gender-segregated yoga class, as I have typically always been comfortable in co-ed fitness spaces. Yet, during the class, I felt like I was in a supportive space where I did not need to compare my abilities to those around me as I normally would.
The women’s only yoga class had an uplifting atmosphere, overall. I noticed that I was not as concerned about constantly readjusting my clothing to avoid baring more skin than necessary as I typically would be in a non-segregated class. Instead of spending time worrying about how I looked, I was able to focus on my breathing and sink deeper into the poses.
At the end of the class, we winded down with stretches, and I left the class feeling recharged and like I had agency over my body. As a white, cis, able-bodied woman, I do not believe that I need a class that is exclusively female to practice yoga. But, I also recognize that, because of my privilege, it is quite rare that I feel out of place, whether I am in a yoga class or in the weight-lifting section of the gym.
After finally participating in a women’s only fitness session, I can understand the benefits of having these spaces. Studio sessions are fun workout environments in general, and women’s only yoga is certainly no different.
Nykole King / News Editor
Graphic: Katie Castellarin