How have we come to believe that there is such a thing?
How could we not, given the images we are bombarded with. Everywhere we look are images of yoga that may serve to push people away rather than invite them to try it. Young, thin, attractive yogis are pictured performing the most extreme version of poses that, (a.) are unattainable for most people; and (b.) not healthy for many bodies anyway. The message that comes across is that yoga is not for everyone just for those who are bendy, athletic, and reed thin.
Many times, in various yoga teacher trainings I have struggled with body image, despite my knowledge that yoga is for everybody. The message would be loud and clear that yoga is really for the few because inevitably it would be the ‘bendy’ yogis who were asked to demonstrate poses in class. I remember feeling overjoyed one day when a more “normal” sized student was asked to show Trikonasana (triangle pose) in front of the whole class!
You see, I do not have the ‘typical’ yoga body. I have curves and bumps just like most women. And I would venture to guess that even those with a “yoga body” are still critical and not at peace with their body. It’s ingrained in all of us from a very young age.
I started yoga several years ago initially at the suggestion of my dentist to reduce stress. At first it was just something to do on a Sunday to enhance my other exercise, preserve flexibility in my aging body, and hopefully show me new ways to cope with stress. I was drawn to its non-competitive nature and how it gently urged my body into shapes it had long forgotten (or had never known) how to do. And while it did facilitate some weight loss for me it was never the focus of my practice. I learned that yoga is so much more than poses as they are just a small part of it.
It saddens me to see how Western culture has turned yoga into a more gymnastic endeavor. Yoga was originally intended to make it easier to sit in meditation by keeping our hips and joints supple and open. It was usually done in loose clothing that allowed for movement. It has 8 limbs that encompass most things we do in our everyday lives, but you would not know that by the images we see of skimpy clothing and thin bodies in mostly unattainable poses.
Stephanie and I bonded over our love of yoga, staying healthy and accepting our uniquely different body types. We both experienced its healing power and knew it could help our patients, so we created Therapeutic Yoga. You see, we have been there. We are dealing with the struggle of body acceptance every day. We know that actions speak louder than words so if we can demonstrate that yoga is for EVERYBODY and not just give lip service to that message then we are fulfilling part of our mission, to facilitate connection of body/mind/spirit in a healing format that’s accessible to all.
Come help us explore this timely issue in a workshop format. To register click here: http://www.stephanielevylicsw.com/therapeutic-yoga-workshops/