So, in no way do I fit the modern western ideal of a yogi, let alone a yoga teacher. I know I have less than no hope of teaching for the studio which I go to as a student.
- I am not a woman
- I am not a young woman
- I am not a lithe, long legged young woman
- I am not an unusually beautiful lithe, long legged young woman
You know the ideal I am talking about. She is on the cover of even well meaning yoga magazines, ideologically sound clothing companies’ catalogues and yoga studio ads.
Even family members ask me things such as, “You’re a big boy to be doing yoga aren’t you?”
It can be difficult to stay focussed on the clear aim of yoga: the acceptance and integration of the body into the self, the Union of physical, mental and spiritual being into an undivided awareness of the divine already dwelling within.
Here are some thoughts of other yoginis on the subject:
Just google “yoga body” and you’ll find your screen flooded with young, white, beautiful women whose lithe bodies are either executing some advanced posture requiring the strength and bendiness of an Olympic Gymnast or are sitting in Lotus, hands in prayer, eyes closed, their enraptured faces evoking beatific female saints who denied the flesh in search of transcendence.
Danielle Prohom Olsen
YJ.com: People often talk about the “yoga body.” What does that mean to you?
SM: The yoga practice as we know it was designed in the East by and for men with short bodies and long limbs. It’s been carried on in the West by women with short bodies and long limbs. Those are the bodies we see in the magazines and Pinterest pictures doing all the cool, pretzel-shaped poses and making them look easy and accessible.
We need to change that ideal. A yoga body, in fact, is any body doing yoga. Can you breathe and be aware of it? Congratulations, you have a yoga body.
We all need to let go and just truly accept ourselves for who we are.
When our time comes and our physical bodies die, do we want to look back and realize we lived our lives trying to change to please others? Or do we come to a point and realize that we are perfect now, we will never be here again and in that moment, we are more beautiful and no one…let me say that again, no one, can steal or snuff out our light.
Maybe instead of the mirror, the magazine and the selfie, we should simply close our eyes and focus within. This is what the real yoga body does; this is what it is for; this, and not its outward appearance, defines it.