What is the perfect yoga body?
My instagram is awash with yoga babes, all rocking the perfect asana, and some with videos of yoga practice in their underwear. I can’t compete with that, no one needs to see me do yoga in my underwear and frankly it would border on the obscene. As it is I’m generally working a sports bra, crop top and a tank to keep the girls under wraps and not because I’m Amish but because I’ve yet to find a retailer thats created the perfect pretty yoga bralette for the larger bust (if you have please let me know!).
The pressure is certainly on to compete, but before taking my place at the starting line, I have to ask, do I want to? My yoga practice is not measured in inches. Weight loss goals were not the motivator to get me on my mat, rather I was looking for a way to find a balance in a very demanding and stressful working life. And to a larger or lesser extent, I’ve achieved that. Admittedly, yoga isn’t touted as the go to exercise for weight loss, but with so many svelte yoga bodies throughout social media you would be forgiven for thinking that it is. A regular yoga practice can result in weight loss but its tied to the frequency and intensity of your practice in addition to adopting a healthy lifestyle and making dietary changes. It is also possible to practice yoga without losing any weight at all and have a full and enriched practice.
Find Balance, In More Ways Than One
As I find balance in my mind through daily yoga practice (you don’t need to practice daily, I just like to), I find that I am more accepting of my body and its many imperfections. I no longer define my body by its silhouette but love it now for its strength and flexibility. The marks streaking across my stomach are reminders of my children, and my boobs, with which I’ve always had a hate/hate relationship and are getting far better acquainted with gravity than I would like them to, are not the burden to me that they used to be (though I would love it if I could take them off whilst I practiced yoga!).
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can... don't be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it's greatest instrument you'll ever own - Baz Luhrman.
Be Kind To Yourself
When considering the full practice of yoga, we need to take ourselves away from the mat and think about yoga’s ethical and moral codes – called the yamas and the niyamas. I wont go into them all in detail here, but a fundamental principal of yoga is that of non violence or compassion (referred to in Sanskrit as Ahimsa). Ahimsa denotes a respect for all living things in addition to the avoidance of violence towards others. Ahimsa’s precept of ’cause no injury’ includes one’s deeds, words, and thoughts and can be expanded upon to include the concept of non violence towards the self. It is true that we partake of a kind of self harm when we judge ourselves in relation to other people’s successes, either physical or emotional. Yet its a trap we all fall into, in our pursuit of physical perfection. Consider every beauty magazine you’ve ever read. The idea of the perfect yoga body is no different to that of a bikini body. Take your body, put it in a bikini, now you have a bikini ready body. So take your body, use it to practice yoga, now you have a yoga body.
Media conditioning would have us constantly critique our bodies because that’s what sells products. But in truth, the perfect yoga body is a body that is loved and provides a home for a mind and heart that never ceases to learn and grow.
So in answer to the question of what is the perfect yoga body? The answer is very simple: Yours.
With that in mind, the depiction of the perfect body on social media need not be classified as simply as size 6. It can instead be broadened to include every body type, size 22, size 10, size 14 and yes, size 6! We don’t need to look to change our bodies to conform with an idea of beauty, instead we can change our idea of beauty to ensure that it includes our own bodies.