Do You Have A Yoga Body?
I recently took a yoga workshop with yoga instructor, Nicole Zornitzer. The workshop was wonderful, and while I could spend hours telling you all that I learned (ask me!), the point of this post is not about the actually instruction of the class.
Nicole said something that really struck a chord with me. She spoke about the posts she is (and we are) seeing all over Instagram, of yogis in handstands, and how it frustrates her that they post these, because it can put people off to the practice. (I am paraphrasing here, forgive me, Nicole, if I am not entirely on point.) This idea rang so true to me that I needed to bring this up here. Often times, I may be inspired to do a pose in front of an old building or something, but then I see the photo and critique myself for not being deep enough into the pose. I feel like I am competing with the other photos posted on social media, or that I will look like I’m not good enough, like a fool (darn shadow work!). Instagram is such a market for all this stuff, that when we feel we don’t match up to what we see, it’s a real hit to the ego.
I once read from someone, I cannot remember who, “Stop following people who make you feel bad about yourself.” How often do we do this? We follow someone who appears to be perfect (perfect appearance, body, home, travel, etc.) and then look at ourselves or at our lives and think, “Well, shit…” That is the exact moment is the sign that we need to UNFOLLOW.
We are bombarded with photos of beautiful, young, fit yoga people doing difficult poses. It makes us believe that we have to have a certain body type to do, or to teach, yoga. I believed it, and it was such a huge block. The idea of my body, or lack-of-lean-yoga-body, literally kept me from stepping onto my mat for years. I still struggle with it, to this day, even though I know that a yoga body doesn’t exist. Every body is yoga ready. That’s the truth.
Yoga isn’t a competition, and the point of yoga is really to connect to your breath and to your mind, and bring all that to the body and it’s movements. Synch it up. It’s about connecting to yourself, and choosing to do what you need to do for your body when you step onto the mat.
Seeing people in scorpion pose, or a head/handstand, or God knows what else, will either inspire us, or make us feel that the practice is unattainable. It makes us believe that the goal is the pose. That’s not the case, and it makes a yoga practice feel unrealistic. I can tell you right now that I don’t have a handstand or a headstand in my practice, and it’s not something that I aspire to do (there was a time, recently, that I wanted to do one, but just so I could post the photos on my Insta). In reality, I can do legs up the wall or supported bridge, for an inversion, and never miss a thing. We have to find what is right for us, breathe into it, and honor it.
Yoga has so many benefits. Maybe if we weren’t faced with photos of lean, teeny bodies in advanced poses so much, maybe we would feel less afraid to try. Alas, we cannot change what others are doing. We can only change our own actions. If what I’ve written here rings true for you, do yourself a favor. Unfollow the accounts that make you second guess yourself, put your phone down, and drop into a yoga class.