You can save your mansplaining

So, this thing happened this week. I’ve been doing lots of yoga, because statistically yogis have shorter, easier labors, and I’m really trying to keep both of us happy and healthy.

One day in class, with a teacher I’d never taken from before, things were going along just swimmingly. I staked out a place by the wall so I could invert with backup, I kept my twists open, and I alternated shallow chaturangas with camel poses for my vinyasa.

We did some core work, all of which, for the record, I participated in, because it felt fine. Then, as we stood back up for the next pose, the instructor walked toward me, patted his lower abdomen a couple times, and said,

“Now THAT’s what you need to work on.”

I was so confused by his statement I just kind of stared at him. I hadn’t told him I was pregnant before class, so I wasn’t sure if he was referring to my baby bump, or if he was making a criticism about a supposed beer belly.

After class, during the put away your props and find your shoes shuffle, he said to me, “How’s that working out for you?”

“How’s WHAT working out?” I asked, and I think I saw him flinch.

“Movement. Yoga. You know, fitness,” was his copout response.

“Great.” I said. “I’m pregnant, so I modify, but overall I feel great.”

He then proceed to mansplain to me why yoga was so important during pregnancy and what muscles I should focus on to make birth easier.

Needless to say, I got out of there as fast as I could. I’m still not sure if he was aware that I was preggo when he made that first comment about my stomach, but either way, so inappropriate!!

It took me a couple days to process. I kept doubting myself and my reaction to that comment in class.

Did that really happen? Maybe I misheard? Surely it wasn’t done with any kind of ill intent, so I should just let it go. 

At the end of the day, it’s really NOT a big deal. Yes, it’s wholly inappropriate, and potentially super offensive, but a remark like that shouldn’t have preyed on my thought patterns for a matter of days. What is a big deal is the mental gymnastics I went through trying to decide if my own experience deserved trusting. I can’t believe I didn’t believe my own ears, or that I went through the motions of making apologies for what was probably just a foot-in-the-mouth dumbass slip of a comment.

Isn’t the whole point of yoga trusting your body, your experience, and your intuition?

Here’s what I’ve come down to, after a couple of days of ruminating:

  1. I’m never going back to that class.
  2. Giving birth is pretty much the last thing I’d like to get mansplained about.

Wait, there's more!

5 Replies to “You can save your mansplaining”

  1. OMG no he didn’t! So many ways he could have meant that, yes. But you’re right, SO inappropriate! He could have said, “core work is so important to continue to practice during pregnancy.” If that’s what he meant. But what a rude way to phrase it, or to try to imply you’ve been drinking too much beer. If it’s the latter, that’s so not yoga! Yoga is inclusive to all, or should be. Ooooo, I can’t believe this!

  2. Oh man, I can’t believe he said that. You’d think as a yoga teacher he’d be more in tune with differences in bodies and whatnot, but apparently that’s not the case. I could see him offering that advice if he’d gone through prenatal yoga training, but my guess is that he hasn’t. As a yoga teacher myself, I can’t believe he had the cajones to say that. Wow. Hope you can find a better teacher!

  3. Oh my goodness! You are so sweet, I would have probably lost my cool. I am one of those that chews on a insult for days, trying to decide if I was off or the person meant it as a slap in the face. I just never understand why people feel the need to say ANYTHING! I am so glad you came to a good conclusion. Last thing anyone needs is a slightly rude yoga teacher, totally not Zen!

  4. IDK, as a guy your response makes me a bit uncomfortable. I mean you did pay him to be your instructor right? And he was instructing you, right? Its not like it was just some random guy on the street. Maybe he made an error and thought you were new to yoga and he was trying to encourage you stick with it through your pregnancy. That would be good. Like you had never seen him he had never seen you so that’s plausible. I could see an entirely different narrative if he had ignored you: ” I went to yoga class, the instructor saw I was pregnant and he totally ignored me. Like my baby bump grossed him out or something. It was as if I didn’t even belong there. I am never going back, I want to go to a place where people are interested in the entire me and my baby bump. What an insensitive uncaring jerk”

    1. Thanks for your comment, Fred. It’s not so much his reaction to my pregnancy that bothered me – it’s that whether or not he knew I was pregnant when he made the comment about my stomach, I think it was unprofessional and rude.

      Imagining myself as a not-pregnant person, having an instructor call out publicly in class that your gut is what you need to work on, would be humiliating, and would definitely keep me from going back or feeling comfortable. There are way more professional ways to help a client or student—and especially when it’s the first time you’ve met them, and have no idea what’s happening with their body.

      And yes, it could be that he was trying to help, albeit in a pretty insensitive, paternalistic way. That doubt is exactly why I just left, rather than getting into it with him.

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