There are some pretty strong beliefs (maybe myths is a better term) about who can or should do yoga, and what kind of body is a yoga body. All too often we assume a yoga body looks young, super bendy, super fit, female and all too often white. Those are the images we see most often on the covers of magazines or social media. Thankfully that's starting to change because really, every body is a yoga body. Let's start with debunking most common myth.
Myth: A yoga body is a bendy, super flexible body.
Yup, I totally fell for this one for a long time, too. Especially when I was younger, being able to get into certain poses was like a holy grail for me. I worked at it, I probably pushed a bit too hard at times, and definitely could have hurt myself forcing my body to fit a yoga pose it just wasn't quite ready for, or perhaps never would be ready for.
It's really easy to go to a yoga class and start comparing ourselves to others. This comparison, and our assumptions, are a few of the things that hold so many people back from even trying yoga in the first place! Let's dive into these a bit deeper.
1. We assume that someone who can touch their toes without bending their knees has always been able to do that from day one. Not so my friend. Think of yoga like anything you try for the first time: riding a bike, making a new recipe, starting a new job. All of these new ventures take time, take mistakes, take repeated effort to learn and then to master. It's the same with yoga. See that picture up there? I've been doing yoga for 15+ years. I still can't touch my toes without bending my knees, especially in the morning when I feel the most stiff. Maybe, on a good day, when I've been on my mat for 45+ minutes consistently each day for few days in a row, then MAYBE I might be able to do it, but usually no. Repetition, effort, persistence, showing up. That's what will help you become more flexible.
What your body can DO when you step on a yoga mat is not as important as how you FEEL after you step off the mat.
2. We assume that everyone should be able to do every pose the same way. You don't need to make your body fit a yoga pose. You want to make the pose work for your body, in a way that feels good. There is no one right way to do a certain pose. There is only what works for your body, today. Each time you come to your yoga mat you might feel different, your body might move (or not) differently than the time before. Embrace this as an opportunity to get to know yourself better, to be fully present to the moment you're in and be open to what comes, to lean in to sensation, to explore variations of a pose that work better for your body, to play with yoga props. Make any yoga practice your own.
Make a pose work for YOUR body, in a way that FEELS good.
3. We compare ourselves to others in the room. There is a lot of mind chatter that can happen in a yoga class. Our brain can all too easily start to compare our body, our clothes, our abilities to anyone else in the room. In our society we focus a lot on competition in all areas of life from an early age. We rank our kids test scores and sports teams, we check out who has what, equate certain brands with achievement in life, and as women are more often taught that our bodies have certain worth based on what they look like, and based on what others think of them. It's no wonder that we are constantly comparing ourselves!
Yoga can actually help us break that cycle by providing a space and guidance to start to observe those comparison thoughts and begin to question them, which eventually allows us to change them.
If you've fallen prey to these assumptions or comparison at some point, you're in good company. We all have. The great thing is we can shine a light on it, start to really question whether it's helpful, whether we want to keep thinking it, and whether we want to limit ourselves because of it or not.
1. Take some time to consider your own assumptions about what a yoga body looks like or the comparisons you have made at a yoga class. Leave a comment to share your experience
2. Stay tuned for Part 2 next week as we delve into what a yoga body looks like at any age.
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In love & light,
I'm Tonia, a Midwesterner transplanted to Colorado. I'm a mom of two lovely littles, a yoga instructor, DIY-er, teacher, stay at home mom, and a doTERRA Wellness Advocate. I blog about a little bit of all of these and everything in between!
Are you looking for natural health options, but don't know where to start? Book a 1-on-1 appointment with me! We'll spend about 30 minutes getting to know your health goals and concerns, learn a bit about doTERRA, and go over the most commonly used oils that meet your needs. You don't have to buy anything, but if you see something you like, of course I can help you!