LV Yoga, Fareham
We’ve all heard the old cliché that yoga is for everybody. It’s a cliché for a reason folks! But now let’s add a space within that word ‘everybody’ – “Yoga is for every body”. See what a difference it makes? You may have already noticed this on my branding, and it’s because I truly believe it. And I’m on a mission to get others to believe this too. Because the more people we get doing yoga, the more chance we have of truly making this world a more peaceful and loving place.
Yoga isn’t just a gym class for middle-aged women or something cultish or religious. (Yet, rather oddly, it is also both of these things at the same time!) Yoga is a philosophy and a lifestyle, and you can take from it as much or as little as you wish. So if you want it purely for the physical practice, then great. If I’m honest, that’s how I found yoga. And if you want to shave your head and wander around in an orange robe, fully dedicating your life to it, then also great. And right there is the beauty of it. Yoga can offer you as much or as little as you’re willing to open your heart and mind to. There are no rules that alienate people who simply want to dip their toes in the water, it’s meant to be a personal experience, in whatever way, shape or form that works for you.
Now I fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. There are many parts of the philosophy that I take into my every day life and my mindset, and there are many that I don’t (yet!). It’s a true journey spanning multiple lifetimes, so I’m not putting any pressure on myself to adopt everything in one hit. And for most people in Western society, I imagine that their first steps, like mine, will begin with the physical practice. So let’s focus a little more on that aspect…
You will have just seen a picture of 21 beautiful yogis demonstrating Vrkasana, tree pose. Now here’s a list of the top three reasons I hear from people as to why they don’t believe yoga is for them:
- “I can’t touch my toes”
- “I’m too fat”
- “Yoga is for women”
And here’s what I have to say in response:
- Neither could I! In fact, it took me ten years of regular practice before I could touch mine. It wasn’t until after I qualified as a teacher that I learned how. In the words of Jigar Gor – “Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s what you learn on the way down”
- Ppppffff….nonsense! You only need to Google Jessamyn Stanley to know that’s not true. Some of the ‘best’ yogis (although it’s not a competition!) in this world are plus sized. Also, in the East, where yoga originated, people with big bellies are considered the happiest, healthiest and wealthiest. Look at Buddha!
- Yoga was invented by men, for men. Women were not traditionally allowed to practice it. It made its way to the West through the military, as Northern European militaries adopted it to train their men. I have no idea how it’s magically become associated with women now?! It’s a practice for all genders!
Now take another good look at that picture, what you will see are people of all ages, shapes, sizes, abilities, ethnicities, genders and so on. Each of these yogis is demonstrating Vrkasana in their own unique expression. Yoga isn’t fixed or rigid, it’s fluid and flexible. Every body has its own set of abilities and limitations, yet every body is able to do something that represents a personal variation of tree pose. And this is the truth of the way I choose teach yoga. Yoga truly can be for every body.
It often takes time to settle into a yoga practice. There are so many basics to learn before you find yourself truly benefiting from a class. First we must learn to breathe, which sounds easy, but is surprisingly difficult when you feel tied up in a pose that you never knew your body was capable of! Then we must learn to listen to our body, not our ego, letting go of that “If everyone else can do it, I should be able to do it too” mentality. Only then can we start to understand how the asanas (postures) really work for us.
If the physical practice doesn’t float your boat, then there’s plenty left to discover. Asanas are only one part of the eight limbs of yoga. You will find that most Western teachers will also include some form of pranayama (breathing), prayahara (sense control), dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation) within their classes. Not necessarily in great detail, but they may touch on them and incorporate them with their asana practice. There’s only so much you can fit into a 60-90 minute class!
Don’t get me wrong, there are those who have come to my classes and have felt worse afterwards, and those who simply decided it’s not for them. That doesn’t mean it can’t be for them, it just means that it’s not part of their journey right now, and that’s perfectly okay. Sometimes our bodies and our minds just aren’t ready yet. So whenever, wherever and from whoever you undertake your yoga journey with, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you’ve taken a step!
So there you have it, yoga really can be for everybody and every body. And in case you were wondering, I’ve named this picture and this blog ‘An Orchard of Yogis’ in hope that their trees will grow fruit, and that fruit will be shared and enjoyed, and the seeds of that fruit will be planted to grow more beautiful yogi trees.
If you’re curious to learn more about the eight limbs of yoga then here’s a link: https://liforme.com/blogs/blog/8-limbs-yoga-explained