It seems to me that, according to my beloved yoga magazines, that you need to be hot, skinny, decked out in designer yoga pants and uber flexible in order to practice yoga. Or, maybe the intent is to get you to believe that if you do practice yoga, you will turn into all of the above – especially if you wear designer yoga pants that cost $80. Since when did One Legged King Pigeon Pose with a full backbend and the back leg bent with your head touching the foot become the standard for all yogis? I swear about 50% of yoga magazine covers feature a hot chick in full on Pigeon.
Do you have to be skinny or even flexible to practice yoga? I will emphatically say NO YOU DO NOT. Yoga is for everybody: young, old, super bendy, super tight, men, women, kids, grumpy people, shiny happy people, and people who can not afford $80 yoga pants (or those who think that it is silly to spend that much money on a pair of pants that you are going to sweat in). As a teacher I often hear “I can’t do yoga because I am not flexible” but this is not true, you gain flexibility by practicing yoga. You really need to practice yoga if you are not flexible! I also wonder if all of the advertising for yoga gear and the beautiful pictures on the cover of magazines has scared people away as well. I know that advertisers need to think about what is going to sell a product, but I think a reality check is in order for the general public. Since I don’t have a magazine – I will just shout out from my lil’ ol’ blog. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE BEAUTIFUL OR FLEXIBLE TO PRACTICE YOGA AND ENJOY IT. Do I do my best to look decent? Yes. Do I buy expensive yoga gear? No, unless you count my amazing yoga mat. Am I trying to get to a healthier weight? Yes I am. Am I trying to inspire others to do the same? Yes I am. Can I do a one legged king pigeon including the back bend & grabbing my back foot with both hands without feeling like my shoulder is going to pop out? No. Do I teach others to do this pose? If they are ready.
My point is that there is nothing wrong with being beautiful, crazy hard yoga poses, taking time to look good or pretty pictures on the cover of magazines. I just think that the heart of yoga is getting lost. The heart of yoga is to unite your mind, body and soul so your spirit can sing. The heart of yoga asana is getting to a place where you can sit in meditation for a long period of time. The point of meditation is bliss. I don’t think that a naked chick selling yoga socks is getting me closer to bliss. These images take me away from my bliss because I feel inferior.
I hope that in class I teach others to reach for their highest and best self, whatever that may look like today. Tomorrow it may look different. In a year, I guarantee it will look different. So – honor yourself and love yourself in this space, right now. If you want to practice yoga but think that you need to live up to some unrealistic standard, then drop that idea and get your butt to a yoga class. I promise (if it is a good yoga class) that you will fell better when you leave than when you got to class.