If you have any thoughts or conceptions on what your yoga, or yoga in general should look like- hear me out.
Be familiar with this word:
M O D I F Y
Your body is unlike anyone else’s. Your limbs are a certain length, you have a certain natural range of motion, certain naturally better developed muscles. This is also true on any given day, if you’re comparing yourself to yourself. You’ve run all week, maybe you were sitting all day, maybe you haven’t practiced for a while. Or conversely, maybe your body is warm and you find yourself more open than usual.
The point is that you MIGHT NOT, although we have a natural tendency to, look at someone ELSE’S body in a yoga pose and be able to “do it.” You just might not be able to.
For example, it will take me a very, very long time if ever to come into the gorgeous Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (one-legged King Pigeon, my “variation” pictured) for a number of reasons. —-I have short limbs. This makes it so my torso and upper limbs have to be the primary moving part to reach my foot. To make things harder, my thigh bone is much longer than my shin bone, and my shin bone is just short in itself. This means that my foot is placed at an even greater distance from my torso.
However, all of that might not stop someone with similar body measurements as myself from coming into this pose. What stops me further is my tight body.
Let me shout this from a rooftop:
I AM A YOGA TEACHER AND I HAVE A VERY, VERY TIGHT BODY
and I have to do everything within my power to make it not so. I do not have a naturally limber body by any means, nor does it stay limber without consistent practice.
—I have tight hips, hamstrings that take tons and tons of wiggling to loosen, and calf muscles and tendons in my ankle that practically hug for dear life in their rigid state. Also, this past week and a half I haven’t been practicing any yoga and have just been running. This is just my lower body.
—My thoracic spine (between shoulder blades) loves to stay where it is and not comply with a flowing arc of a backbend. My lumbar spine (lower back) on the other hand is super duper duper flexy, and to prevent injury I have to be wary of not letting my body take what we yoga teachers like to call “the path of least resistance” and bend completely from there.
—My shoulders have always been tight. I have large shoulder muscles as well, which just puts more “beef” in the way on top of that.
This is my body. This is my body in one-legged King Pigeon. I have my body every day, every practice, every pose, every breath. I work with my body, not against it. I assess it constantly to make sure I’m giving it what it needs and not trying to push it towards something I know works on someone else’s body.
If you follow me, understand that this is what you will get. You’re getting my body doing my yoga on film. My yoga isn’t any of the other beautiful yogi’s on tumblr, just as theirs isn’t mine.
Be okay with your body and your yoga being YOURS. And don’t be afraid to modify what you see, hear, and feel to fit YOU.