Yoga For Every Body
What is the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word Yoga?
Is it someone sitting quietly with their eyes closed and hands in jnana mudra? Is it someone in skimpy spandex on instagram doing a handstand? Is it a perfectly positioned person in brightly colored leggings selling yoga classes or apparel?
What is and what isn’t yoga? How long am I supposed to practice? How often? What poses should I do? Which ones should I avoid? The answers to these questions depend entirely on the person asking them.
There are many schools & lineages of yoga that perpetuate many different ideas about the practice, which has honestly been a bit confusing and overwhelming for me, even as a yoga teacher that has accumulated hundreds of hours of teaching and training.
I’ve never really gravitated towards more rigid traditions that claim there is only one correct position per posture or a single, superior sequence that should be repeated to perfection. Perfection is not a goal, it is an illusion.
I’ve long suspected that every body is different so it makes sense to me that every body is going to experience and express yoga postures a bit differently. This was confirmed for me during an advanced yoga and anatomy training that I completed recently at Asheville Yoga Center with Libby Hinsley, an IAYT (International Association of Yoga Therapists) certified yoga therapist, a Physical Therapist and yoga teacher since 2005.
All bodies are meant to move but not in the exact same way. Yoga makes us more aware of what has happened and what is currently happening in our bodies (as well as our minds) and helps us feel and function better overall.
I confess I was drawn to yoga because I was already pretty flexible. Turns out, there is such a thing as being too flexible, and it’s called joint hypermobility, which is hereditary and can also be referred to as “double-jointed” or having “loose joints.” So no matter how long you practice you may not achieve those “impressive” poses unless you were just born with the ability to do them. Looking at you, splits / hanumanasana!
Contrary to how it is marketed in the West, Yoga was not developed as an exercise. It was designed to prepare the body for hours upon hours of stillness and meditation.
But we shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying these physical benefits. Movement through yoga is good for our bones, brains, muscles, joints, fascia, nervous system, circulation, and posture in addition to our mental and emotional states.
Of course you can get injured while doing anything including yoga but yoga also tends to develop your intuition and mindfulness and lessen the ego, which makes you less prone to both acute and chronic injuries.
Yoga isn’t just about physical balance, it’s also about balancing strength and flexibility. And this balance is different for every body. Your practice is about you, not about the poses.
Be curious. Do some research online regarding your own concerns and injuries, ask your yoga teacher(s) questions, try different classes, go to workshops or retreats and above all else, explore your own practice without judgement.
The great thing about your yoga practice is that it can change along with your body and your stages of life. I know many teachers who started out with a powerful, physical Ashtanga or Vinyasa practice and who have transitioned over the years towards a gentler Restorative or Yin practice. Or if you’re new to yoga, you can start out with gentler classes and work your way up to more physical classes and postures. I recommend a bit of both along with hiking/walking and weightlifting.
Can you do yoga while pregnant? Yes.
Can you do yoga with chronic pain or injuries? Yes.
Can you do yoga with back issues like scoliosis, bulging or degenerative discs or sciatica? Yes.
Can you do yoga with neck or shoulder pain? Yes.
Can you do yoga if you feel overweight or out of shape? Yes.
Can you do yoga with arthritis? Yes.
Can you do yoga if you’re 100 years old? Yes.
Say Yes to Yoga wherever you are, but if you’re ever near Asheville, North Carolina, we’d love for you to join us for a unique yoga, hiking & meditation experience in and around the waterfalls and mountains of Western North Carolina. We welcome everyone regardless of their yoga experience because yoga is for every body.
Namaste & Have A Great Day!