I recently taught a small group of impassioned students who were on their way to becoming remarkable yoga teachers.
One of the assignments I gave them asked them to evaluate the classes they had previously attended.
Did the class fulfill its intention?
Did the teacher’s words help them to inhabit their bodies?
More than one of the students commented on how relieving it was when a teacher walked into the room without a typical “yoga body.” It made them feel like they could have the body they were born with and still be an excellent teacher.
I ruminated for days on what it means to have a yoga body.
I remember feeling like there was no way that I had one, even though I was a yoga teacher. My hamstrings were always tight because of walking and running and spinning and dancing. I have fallen out of balance in poses in front of classes. The truth is I would rather my yoga practice come from a pure place than an impressive place.
My body is not what makes my yoga.
And your body is not what makes yours.
I am a slim woman. I know there is an assumption that yoga makes me slim, but I feel it is a combination of everything else and my mother’s genes. At different points of my life, I have been twenty pounds heavier and I have been twenty pounds lighter. Being at either end is just perfect because yoga’s bare bones help us to feel a sense of comfort with ourselves, no matter what size we happen to be.
Kathryn Budig has called the body the “meat suit” and it is exactly that. Your body carries you around. It allows you to do things and it is wise enough to hold you back from others when your ego is trying to write cheques you can’t cash. Your body slows down when it wants rest and emits energy when it is raring to go. Your body is a beautiful thing.
A yoga body can be hundreds of pounds or it can be 90 years old. It really doesn’t matter, as long as we can see our own light more clearly through our practice. If we sift through the noise that is even embedded within the yoga community, we can get closer to recognizing that the more we see our own spark, the more others will be inspired by it. Most people notice a warm smile more than they notice a six-pack. A practice that comes from an honest place has absolutely nothing to do with what you look like now and what you looked like before.
I have had students declare in their first yoga class, “I used to be a dancer” or “I used to be a gymnast,” even though twenty years may have passed since that has been their truth. Once you start doing yoga, which can be as simple as bringing awareness to what you are now, you don’t have to worry about what you used to be. You might have had a different body, but we all have. It is always changing. I was recently told that every time we access a memory, it changes. Even your memory of your once perfect body may not be completely inaccurate.
It doesn’t even matter what our memory recollects. What yoga teaches us is how much the now-ness of life is important. Right now, at this very moment your meat suit, your body, is working with you to do your yoga.
Guess who has a yoga body? You. An amazing, powerful, intuitive vessel that kicks some serious asana.