Instagram, TV, and advertising sometimes show images of advanced yoga practitioners in difficult poses. Lithe, bendy people, smiling in the sun, backs arched gracefully, wearing white unitards. The common representation of yoga is that anyone who practices or is successful at practice has a ballerina build. It is unfortunate, because it gives the general population the impression that you have to be in peak physical shape with 6% body fat to do yoga. This is SO not the case.
Example: This morning’s class was mixed level, leaning to advanced. We worked up to camel and then up to this:
(Beautiful photo of Pigeon pose from page 119 of Hatha Yoga Illustrated, by Martin Kirk, Brooke Boon, and Daniel DiTuro. Photos by Daniel DiTuro).
But here’s the thing.
There might have been twenty students in that class. We all had our own variation of Pigeon going on. And THAT is yoga.
You start where you are at the time you are practicing. You breathe and make shapes with your body. I have never before thought of Pigeon as a triangle before looking it up in this book, but now that I am more interested in the building of a pose more than before, I see it. We were all working towards this beautiful triangle. Not to be confused with actual Triangle pose! That is a post for another day.
Anyhow. A fellow student asked, “is this a pose that you would be unable to do if you have a large body?” (I am paraphrasing. What she said also covered people who might generally be considered overweight).
Our teacher affirmed that there are different bodies but we all have ways to get there, and it is more individual body mechanics than anything to do with the size of body.
In all honesty, had I been shown the picture above, I don’t think I would have thought I could come close to Pigeon as pictured. However, with the right guidance, being led into it, I’m proud of how far I made it. (NOT pictured – hahaha).
So here I am, working to let go of assumptions and expectations. Thinking about triangles. And cooking dinner all at the same time. Gotta get everything ready so I can attend tonight’s YTT class!