I stumbled across Elephant Journal recently, I think from a link on Facebook. I checked it out and found some really cool articles, including this one, What does a yoga body look like? (warning: the link opens to an article, but the picture at the top involves nudity)
This article really struck a chord with me. Remember when I said I was envious of “those yoga girls?” I thought “yoga girls” all had “perfect” bodies. Perfect in the sense of lean, lithe, no fat. It was part of my intimidation with yoga. I didn’t feel like I was “perfect” enough, or that I could ever look like “one of those yoga girls.”
I have always struggled with body image, always felt like I was in some competition – am I thin enough? That girl has a better stomach than me. That girl has nicer legs than me. It’s exhausting.
I’ve been a runner for a long time, and as much as I love running for how it makes me feel, when I am running heavily, those thoughts are even louder. “I want to look like a runner.” “I want to have six-pack abs like she does.” It’s stupid. I know that.
I know these thoughts, these loud thoughts, aren’t healthy. And it is something I always struggle not to pay attention to. I am always working on having a healthier body image, on being proud of what I can DO, not what I look like. But trust me, it requires constant work, and it doesn’t take much at all for my body insecurities to come raging to the surface.
But none of my efforts at developing a healthier body image have had an impact like stepping into a yoga studio did.
Because there are people of all body types and ages sweating right alongside me. Bigger, smaller, older, younger, curvy and no curves at all. And you know what? When you can see that the man who is almost 70 and a little soft around the middle is keeping up pose for pose with the young “perfect” girl on the next mat, you can see that all of that internal competition, all of that internal dialogue, all of that stupid internal chatter about being perfect is nothing but bullshit and lies.
So, what is a yoga body? I have a new view of that now. A healthier view. And a better view. Because trust me, when you are trying to hold a tough pose (a tough pose for you), you aren’t thinking, man if only I had more toned legs, this would be so much easier.
A yoga body is any body. There is no one perfect body. It doesn’t matter if you have well-defined abs or chiseled arms. Do you do yoga? Can you do the poses? Do you try your best? Do you want to push yourself to find out what you can DO? Do you want to keep going and keep working at making yourself better…not to compete with someone else, but to go deeper in yourself? Do you want to keep learning? Do you want to push yourself until you can get past all the noise in your head and just find YOU? Then you have a yoga body.