The bombardment of images in the media of celebrities and models doing asanas on the beaches of Bali creates a very dubious impression of yoga to the average person. Usually, people assume that regular yoga practice will yield a slim, toned body that is neither bulky with the bulging muscles of a bodybuilder, nor is it too skinny and in need of more protein. While it’s definitely the kind of body that is attainable through regular practice and good diet, the reality is, every body is a yoga body.
A key principle of yogic practice is to be comfortable with our bodies and listen to them. To subscribe to the silly idea that one who does yoga must have a slim, toned body like a model automatically betrays that very principle by telling us that our bodies are not perfect until we have that perfect yoga body.
You Are Perfectly Unique
Every body has its unique proportions and biology that make it harder or easier for some people to change it, and yes, there are both older and portly people who practice yoga with just as much love and dedication as the young and thin students, often in the same place. Just as some people may be more flexible with their legs but may not have the same level of balance that others do, we all come in with different advantages and challenges to work with in our bodies. Nobody is a “natural” at yoga or anything for that matter; it all comes down to how much you dedicate yourself to your discipline.
So if anyone ever comes up to you and asks about your yoga body, tell them you do have a yoga body: the one you were born with, which is just like the one he or she has as well. Don’t mind anyone else and what they say or think—when you practice yoga, it’s you and your body, and they must deal with their bodies and egos that give them insecurity and doubt. Don’t try to enlighten them or change them—it’s their journey for them to take, and you have your own path to walk.
Be nice to yourself by being nice to your body. Eat the right foods and practice yoga regularly and routinely, and listen to the right voices and messages that are both positive and encouraging. If this means turning off your television, do what’s best for you to help you listen to your body better. There is more wisdom in your own body than anything anyone can tell you about good health: if your body says rest, take a nap. If your body is hungry, eat something then! By following this, you will treat your body the way it’s meant to be treated: with love and respect, which is no coincidence a part of the teachings of yoga.
Yogasync Me! If you are having trouble accepting your body the way it is, then try this general Acceptance Meditation, that can be applied to the way you feel about your own physical form.
The best way to acceptance is just keep doing yoga, at whatever level you’re at, and let the subtle effects take place. With an attitude of trust in yoga, and a steady persistence for Yoga, you will soon be guided to a place of stillness and acceptance. You may not notice it happening day to day, but there always comes a day when it dawns on you that your thinking is different, that you feel calmer, that you can get into that pose! And then again you keep progressing, keep evolving, keep understanding in new ways. The only way to know if this is true, is to try it for yourself. ENJOY!