by Jess Spritzer
It’s me, your friendly neighbourhood Jess. Here to clarify some things about the inclusivity of the yoga community.
What is a Yoga Body?
Have you heard the term “Yoga Body”? Have you pondered to yourself about what exactly that means. Maybe you didn’t have to think too hard, because your perceptions are swayed by oversaturated images in the media.
Yoga bodies are strong, agile, fit, and slim… Right?
Conveniently, this image of what a yoga body is fits right in with modern social standards of aesthetics.
Here is an oversimplified deductive statement to clarify how we came to associate yoga bodies with slimness:
Yoga = trendy form of fitness.
Fitness = healthy = slim.
Yoga = strength and agility = Fitness = slim
Therefore: Yoga bodies are slim!
In case you need further clarification – this deductive statement is incorrect.
And! Here’s the thing: Even if you didn’t consciously come to this conclusion on your own, there’s a good chance that you thought it at some point anyways! Such is the nature of the inundation of the media. I don’t blame you – it’s powerful stuff.
Now we can talk about what a yoga body actually is?? A body that practices yoga.
Mind-blowing, I know.
The Definition of Yoga
In the truest sense of the word, yoga means to yoke or unite – mostly commonly used to refer to the union of mind and body – or in other words a mindfulness practice.
So here’s another definition of a yoga body – a body that’s connected to a mind.
Yoga is a lot more than the physical practice (Asana). In fact, asana only makes up 1/8th of the limbs of yoga. The other seven are metaphysical, pertaining to meditation, concentration and generally turning the gaze inwards. These aspects of yoga, in may ways can be less accessible than asana, which may or may not be a reason why asana is the one limb most commonly associated with a yoga practice. I get it. Mindfulness and meditation is hard work. I myself haven’t exactly transcended the time-space continuum.
Fortunately, asana helps to prepare our bodies so that they can function in a more mindful manner, together with the breath. This in turn makes us more actively conscious participants in our lives.
Who Can Practice Yoga?
Do you have a body? Good news! Then you can practice yoga!
The first time I asked my mother to come to one of my classes, she exclaimed: “But I’m not flexible!” – That’s just a reason why you should go to yoga, I reasoned with her.
A skilled yoga instructor is able to adapt yoga teachings to suit students’ varying abilities or disabilities accordingly.
You do not have to have a certain body type in order to attend a yoga class. Yoga can teach you how to become agile, or strong, or how to build your stamina – just within the one limb of the physical practice are a bazillion types of Asana. There is quite literally a yoga class for everyone; various types of hot yoga, sleeping yoga (yoga nidra), restorative yoga, power flow yoga, aerial yoga, yoga with goats (Google it. It’s a thing), beer tasting yoga, etc.
To conclude: if you are looking to get a yoga body (re: a body that’s connected to a mind), then get your body to a yoga class.