I’ve recently started doing a little yoga, both to get something different into my exercise routine, and also hoping that it will help with stress reduction. I’ve been using videos for this, since I can get them from Netflix (or even better, stream some!), and also because it gives me much more flexibility as to when I do it.
And speaking of flexibility, I always thought that being physically flexible was all I’d need to do yoga. My mom thought so, too, which is why she invited me to a free yoga class with her at the Cancer Community Center (wonderful resource, by the way) over ten years ago. She started going while she was undergoing chemo, to try to keep some of her strength up, and I agreed to join her.
I only attended one session, though. Partly that was due to time constraints (I was on Christmas break so headed back to Boston shortly after), but an embarrassment factor also crept in. Here I was, still very flexible, but I literally could not put my body in some of the positions asked because of the size of my body parts. Primarily my legs – they had so much bulk that I could only do so much with them. The embarrassment was enough of a deterrent that I didn’t try yoga again until the past year.
I was reminded of this recently in using a “Long and Lean” yoga video by a man named Baron Baptiste. It seems like a good video, but I was a little annoyed by his introduction. He said that the two women modeling the poses for him – both very lean, long, and sculpted – had “yoga bodies”, meaning that they had gotten to that place only by doing yoga.
That may be the case, but I do think there’s some inherent pre-disposition to having those sorts of bodies. For instance, I will never be lean, unless I go on a starvation diet. My legs are still the primary source of this, being far too thick. Additionally, I will never be long; if anything, I will become less long as I grow older. Finally, I’m not quite proportionate. I have a short torso, and so when I’m asked to do things like go from downward dog to a lunge by jumping lightly (hah!) or stepping between my arms, I simply can’t. There’s not enough room between my chest and the floor to easily move into that position.
My point is simply this. When doing any exercise, we all need to be aware of our particular body type and capabilities, and not get so embarrassed by what we think we should be able to do but can’t that we don’t do the exercise at all anymore. For myself, even though I can’t perform some of the actions the way they’re modeled, and I know I’ll never have a body like the pretty people on my screen, no matter how much yoga I do, I won’t let that stop me. I’m going to keep up with the parts I can do and not worry about the rest. After all, I’d say that anyone who does yoga has a “yoga body” – it just so happens that they’re not all the same.