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How to avoid being the Jen Caron in your yoga class, learn yoga background

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Jen Polachek (aka Jen Caron) has gotten black women yogis in an uproar after her xoJane op/ed piece "It Happened To Me: There Are No Black People In My Yoga Classes And I'm Suddenly Feeling Uncomfortable With It."

The Cliffnotes version of the blog is Jen Caron was uncomfortable seeing a "young, fairly heavy black woman" in a yoga class otherwise dominated by slim, white women. Jen Caron convinced herself that while the black woman in the class was confused about how to hit some yoga poses, she must also be concerning herself with the appearance of other people in the class. Not just how well they strike their yoga poses but that Jen believed this black woman must be concerned about not having the other students' same build.

Getting past the idea that the black woman in this class obviously came to a yoga class to improve her own fitness and flexibility level, the naivete of the blogger to think this woman must be paying as much attention to her as she is to this sista makes people want Kanye West to interrupt the class to say, "Jen, this black woman doesn't care about you."

Not only was Jen staring at the black woman try to do the downward dog, but Jen continued to stare at her at least once per minute and believed that this woman "was still staring directly at me. Over the course of the next hour, I watched as her despair turned into resentment and then contempt. I felt it all directed toward me and my body."

Could it be possible that maybe this black woman was glancing at Jen because Jen continued to look at her? What's that saying about "feeling someone looking at you"?

Jen Caron even admitted, "I found it impossible to stop thinking about this woman" as if her being heavyset and black in a yoga class was like watching a museum exhibit. The fact that she went home and cried because of her yoga experience with this black woman is even wackier.

And while op/eds are flying about in response to Jen, such as Clutch's "Yes, Jen, Black Women Practice Yoga Too" the photo gallery above is focused on other health tips for yoga newbies and yoga regulars. Avoid being the gawker Jen Caron in your yoga class. Know more about yoga other than having a "skinny white girl" figure. And yes, all photos included in the photo gallery have black people doing yoga and stretching because the world of yoga is bigger than just Jen Caron's class.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all her latest Chicago nutrition and fitness entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Diet and Exercise channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her @BlackHealthNews.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all her latest Chicago vegetarian entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Vegetarian channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her "Diet & Exercise" and "Vegetarian World" Pinterest boards.

What kind of yoga should I do?
What kind of yoga should I do? (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

What kind of yoga should I do?

There are various different forms of yoga: Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Kashmir Shaivism to name a few. But the most common form of yoga in America is Hatha Yoga.

Is the menstrual cycle yoga issue a myth?
Is the menstrual cycle yoga issue a myth? (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Glamour)

Is the menstrual cycle yoga issue a myth?

The American Yoga Association discourages yoga for "women during menstruation, for pregnant women, or for nursing mothers." If the idea of not doing yoga while on your period sounds odd, Yoga Journal explains both sides of the risks of "vascular congestion" in the uterus and endometriosis.

Do men do yoga, too?
Do men do yoga, too? (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Do men do yoga, too?

Have you checked out the cover of John Capouya's "Real Men Do Yoga: 21 Star Athletes Reveal Their Secrets for Strength, Flexibility and Peak Performance"? Rodney Yee is also another male instructor who is all over the place in the fitness section of any retail store. Artists are getting in o the fun and fitness, too. Maroon 5 fans have probably seen all of the yoga poses of People's Sexiest Man Alive: Adam Levine. Men's Fitness provides yoga tips for men.

How can men avoid injury from yoga?
How can men avoid injury from yoga? (China Photos/Getty Images)

How can men avoid injury from yoga?

Yoga isn't just for women, although it may really boggle the mind of Jen Caron to see a black man in class. Where will his genitals go? He definitely doesn't have her figure. On a serious note, Men's Health magazine suggests "10 Best Poses for Men" in yoga class.

Can you lose weight practicing yoga?
Can you lose weight practicing yoga? (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Can you lose weight practicing yoga?

FitDay talks about the perks of yoga, including increased flexibility; increased lubrication of joints, ligaments and tendons; massaging the body's internal organs; detoxifying the body; and toning the muscles. However, yoga is usually a low-impact workout so to use yoga as a form of fitness, try ashtanga yoga, power yoga or hot yoga.

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