December 22, 2011

My body doesn’t bend right for yoga. ~ Nadine Fawell

 Originally published by our elephriends over at Recovering Yogi on December 16, 2011. 

My body doesn’t bend right for yoga.

By Nadine Fawell

I’ve just got back from leading a yoga retreat in Ubud. On my last day there, I went to a yoga class. Taught by someone else! Yessss! I wasn’t going to have to think. Someone else would tell me what to do. That could only be a good thing, right?

Well. It might have been, if I hadn’t forgotten that I have The Wrong Body for Yoga. My ass is too big; my hips don’t bend like they should. Basically, I am a loser who should just slink away and try aerobics or something. I can’t believe I managed to forget about that, and what’s more, be cheeky enough to become a teacher. But that’s okay: our teacher for the morning, a gumby-like man I’ll call Ananda, set me straight.

It all started with Triangle Pose.

Which I was doing, as is my wont, with my top hip pointing a bit towards the ground. It’s how my pelvis bends. If I try to get both hips facing forwards, like in the pictures of Mr. Iyengar, I pop a sacro-iliac joint.


Ananda told me I was collapsing, and that I needed to get my hips straight. I told him he was fighting bone. I think we might have had a language problem, because he stopped the class, and got me up against a wall to illustrate what needed to be happening in my triangle pose. He wanted my feet, bum and shoulders all to be against the wall.

Great idea, except….

Exhibit A:

My bootylicious ass (and somewhat swayed back). It’s humanly impossible for me to get feet, hips and shoulders against a wall without falling over or doing Banana Back (which I kind of do anyway). I got the giggles, people. Two of my students were also in the class and they were smothering their own uncomfortable laughter: we spend a lot of time in class talking about how every body is different, with different limitations, often using mine as an example. They KNEW it wasn’t going to happen. I just don’t think any of us expected Ananda to expend so much energy trying to fix me.

“You don’t practice enough,” he told me. “You just need to practice more.” Daily is apparently insufficient.

And then we did Triangle on the other side. With the whole class looking at me, since we were now facing my corner. And… I did it wrong.

Exhibit B:

Hips pointing the wrong way. Clearly a collapsed Triangle. Ananda came to fix me. And, funnily enough, my sacro-iliac joint popped. Hello, pain. Haven’t seen you for a while. Can’t say I missed you.

Why, you ask, did I let him do all this? Well, I didn’t want to disrupt the class more than I already had, and I didn’t want to be disrespectful by trying to give him an anatomy lesson in the middle of his class.

It was a great reminder though, that my body is not made for regular yoga, and most especially not for cookie-cutter yoga. The humiliation, I can deal with — in my early yoga days, I got a lot of it. That’s why I am the kind of teacher I am: I always ask people what’s going on for them before I offer adjustments, and I am very mindful with my language.

Wouldn’t want anyone feeling like a reject yogi, now would we?

Or maybe I have it wrong, and yoga really is only for the super bendy, those whose butts don’t get in the way, and whose legs rotate a full 360 degrees in their hip sockets.

 About Nadine Fawell

Nadine Fawell’s edit button doesn’t work: if there is something inappropriate to be said, she will say it. Often in yoga class. She drinks coffee and swears and sometimes she thinks deeply about life. You can find her at www.yogawithnadine.com.

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